|FILE - This Oct. 17, 2010, file photo shows Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre being interviewed after an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, in Minneapolis. Favre has a fracture in his left ankle that could end the 41-year-old's NFL-record consecutive games streak. Vikings coach Brad Childress said Monday, Oct. 25, 2010, an MRI on Favre's ankle revealed the injury after Minnesota's loss at Green Bay. (AP Photo/Andy King, File)|
Time for Favre to finally say goodbye for good
There was always the possibility it could all turn sour, though Brett Favre could never have imagined this when his teammates and the promise of more glory lured him off his Mississippi farm for what was supposed to be one last magical season.
Six games into that season, his body has taken a beating. So has his reputation, for reasons that go further than the three interceptions he threw in the second half Sunday night against the Packers.
His team may not even make the playoffs, much less the Super Bowl. And the coach who personally chauffeured him to training camp when he signed with the Minnesota Vikings seems to be as tired of his act as his former fans in Green Bay.
With all of that going on, the discovery of a stress fracture in his ankle Monday couldn't have come at a better time. Because now Brett Favre can finally retire.
Yes, retire. Only this time, don't waste our time waffling about it.
Get on a plane and get out of town before your 291-game consecutive streak -- 315 if you count the playoffs -- can be snapped. Go back to your wife on the farm before the NFL's investigation into your frat boy antics goes any further.
Get out now because it can only get worse.
Tough love, sure. Especially tough for a guy who just can't seem to understand that 41-year-old grandfathers shouldn't be playing in a league filled with fast and fearsome 20-somethings.
But if there ever was a good time to walk away from it all, it's now. Not next week or next month, but now.
Granted, the brutal loss to the Packers isn't the way Favre wants to end his remarkable career. In a perfect world, he would end it walking off the field at Cowboys Stadium next Feb. 6 and announcing to everyone that he was going to
But circumstances have moved beyond Favre's ability to control them. He's no longer totally in charge of his future, and his heartwarming story of playing way beyond his years isn't so endearing anymore in the wake of allegations he sent lewd pictures to a woman who worked for the New York Jets and left suggestive messages on her phone.
There's no denying he still gives us great drama. The television ratings for Sunday night's game were huge, and the sight of Favre after the game stopping every few feet to exchange hugs with guys who minutes earlier were trying to plant him face first into the turf at Lambeau Field was as touching as you'll ever get on a football field.
But the NBC camera crew that followed Favre into the locker room also showed us an old gunslinger who now just looks old. The statistics show the same thing, with interceptions and fumbles occurring with alarming regularity and Favre's quarterback rating sinking to the lowest of his career.
Things got so bad Sunday night that coach Brad Childress was one series away from taking Favre out of the game in the third quarter. The legend would have been benched in prime-time for all to see, something that would have been just as humiliating to Favre as the pictures he allegedly took that are posted on the Internet.
Childress would follow that after the game by chastising Favre for throwing balls he had no business throwing. He also made it clear that he would be the one deciding whether Favre's ankle is healed enough to play Sunday against New England, streak or no streak.
"We have to do what is right for the Minnesota Vikings," Childress said. "That's what I get charged with at the end of the day. I'm not worried about someone getting one more start or one more yard to equal 300."
Favre can save Childress from having to make that call. In the time it takes the Vikings to implement a few routes Randy Moss can actually run, he can have his agent negotiate a settlement of however many millions are left on his contract, clean out his locker and head home.
It won't be the storybook ending that both Favre and his fans might want. But it beats the ending Favre will have if he insists on carrying it through to the bitter end.
His body is not going to miraculously heal under the pounding he gets every time he steps on the field. His play is not going to get miraculously better, either, even if the occasional touchdown pass rekindles memories of the Favre magic of old.
At some point Childress will almost surely have to bench him. At some point there could be an angry confrontation between player and coach.
And at some point the NFL could also deliver a very embarrassing suspension if it finds Favre was more camera happy than anyone would have ever thought.
Favre may have been the master of miracle rallies on the field, but there will be no miracle rally for his career. He's a tired, old quarterback with issues both on the field and off.
They will only go away when he does.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org