“You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
- The Dark Knight (2008)
This whole season I kept coming back to this quote when thinking of Brett Favre. The night his streak ends I find it fitting to put this all into context…one…last…time.
We have exhausted ourselves over the past two seasons on this site expressing how we feel about #4, so I am not going to shed light on anything new, but rather finally add closure to this whole saga. When you think about it, Monday night delivered the perfect closure for Favre. A “home” game in Detroit because the Metrodome collapsed to due a snowstorm disaster, just as the 2010 season has been a complete disaster for him and the Vikings. It was also fitting that the team that ended Favre’s career in Green Bay was the Vikings’ opponent on Monday night.
Last year, Favre could do no wrong in Minnesota. He was their savior, their white knight. He led the Vikings closer to a championship than they had been in over a decade. He then hesitated to come back in 2010, like only Favre knows how. If he actually did hang it up, no one would have blamed him. Granted Vikings fans desperately wanted him back to take care of “unfinished business,” but even they couldn’t fault a 40-year-old future Hall of Famer if he decided to stay in Mississippi shooting Wrangler commercials.
But he came back, just like we knew he always would and it was only a matter of time before all of his hero tokens ran out. The thing about cheering for a guy like Favre on your team is that when he is good, you love him. When he is not good, you are pulling your hair out. Everyone who followed him close enough over the course of his career knew that 2010 was going to end in only one of two ways: he was going to play hero again and lead the Vikings to another deep championship run; or he was going to go down in flames and be the central cause to the Vikings’ demise. As well as Favre has played hero over the years, he plays one damn good villain too.
Would it surprise anyone if Favre gets on a plane to Mississippi this week and just ends his time in Minnesota three weeks early? It shouldn’t because there is nothing left for him in Minnesota besides five feet of snow and sub-zero temperatures. Being a closet conspiracy theorist it also wouldn’t surprise me if there is a suspension looming with Sterger-gate and the NFL told him he could end his streak with dignity this week or in shame the following the week. Even if that is the case, how much dignity does he have with how his streak ended? He has played through worse and it is actually kind of a let down how the streak ended. It always seemed like the streak would end with a serious, career-threatening injury or retirement.
So the streak ends at 297, three games short of 300, a number we all know Favre wanted to reach. Of all the records he owns, it is no secret the streak mattered the most to him. It is also his most self-absorbing record since it is the one where his teammates are involved the least. Favre is the most egotistical athlete in my lifetime and to have this streak, and most likely his career end in this fashion is too fitting. He had chances to go out as a hero at both the end of 2007 and 2009, unexpectedly delivering two teams one game shy of the Super Bowl.
However, he stuck around too long and tore the emotions of two rival fan bases. Who would have predicted three years ago that all of this would have transpired?
But it did. And now Favre is stuck knowing that he is forced to leave the game not the way he wanted, not as a hero. But rather, just the opposite.