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The Long, Long Road to Retirement

This article is more than 11 years old.

It’s official. Brett Favre is a member of the New York Jets. Because Bill Littlefield was on vacation last week, he’s scrambling now to catch up with the fast-moving world of sports. One of the more bizarre aspects of that world has been the on-going soap opera starring Favre, formerly retired, who now is preparing to play quarterback again.   

I wish I’d been on the job when once and perhaps future quarterback Brett Favre turned down a deal that I’d say was beyond imagining if I hadn’t been assured of its authenticity by reliable sources. But so what if I wasn’t at my desk last week? I’m jumping on the Favre story late, because this is a train I’m unwilling to miss. Having tearfully retired and then, with dry eyes, announced that he was coming back to play in the NFL, Favre showed up at Green Bay’s camp. That happened early this week. But before it happened, the Packers had offered Favre twenty million dollars over ten years to stay retired. That’s the magnificently weird circumstance to which I feel compelled to return. The offer did not stipulate the ex-quarterback would have gotten the money for nothing. For two million dollars per annum over the next decade, he would have had to agree not to be smashed to the frozen ground by monstrous lads who could earn bonuses for disabling him. If he accepted the money, under no circumstances could he spend most of August in the company of half a hundred men in a state
of arrested adolescence, some of whom would be trying to light his shoes on fire or tie his underwear in knots, while others grumbled behind his back that he was a selfish, deluded ass.  When Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk heard about the deal Farve had been offered, he said, “You could hand me a billion dollars, and I’m still going to be on the field.” Full disclosure: You could hand me a billion dollars, and I’m still going to be off an N.F.L. field, unless it’s about two a.m. and I get to lock the gate behind me and carry a serious weapon in case somebody who’s been left behind tries to tear my shoulder from its socket or jam his fingers in my eye. But I digress. Mr. Hawk’s comments suggest that Mr. Favre and whoever offered him twenty million dollars to not play are not the only crazy people ever to be associated with the Packers. Before August, 2008, some skeptics might still have entertained doubts about the relationship between pro football and brain damage. Recent doings in and around Green Bay would seem to have settled that issue.    

This program aired on August 7, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.

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