From the Sidelines: Still no sunset yet for Favre

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 4, 2008

Gunslingers were tempermental and impulsive. In many cases the traits signify brilliance and, frequently, instability. Often, they are as much the reason for succes as they are for failure.

When living legend Brett Favre told the world he was done only months ago, he set into motion a series of events that do little but reinforce the oft unflattering gunslinger persona with whi ch the Green Bay Packer quarterback has been saddled for the majority of his career.

His apparent departure from the field drew speculation and scrutiny from the moment it was announced, dividing the NFL community into two schools of thought.

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The first group accepted Favre&8217;s farewell address at face value, subsequently preparing for life after No. 4 and the new-found right to reminisce about his accolades and achievements in the same manner old men talk about Johnny Unitas. It is

a day everyone knew would come eventually, and Favre&8217;s tearful goodbye seemed as good a time as any to finally begin that process.

The second school of thought is equally as reflective on Favre&8217;s career. It takes into consideration the times he made the improbable seem routine. It makes note of the manner in which he won and the unsatisfied grace with which he lost.

But as much as the second school of thought considers Favre&8217;s career on the field, it also pulls strong evidence from his demeanor away from the field when it concludes that he is not done with the game.

Favre&8217;s reported announcement earlier this week that he still has that &8220;itch,&8221; not only took big strides in verifying the latter train of thought, it served as yet another indicator that football&8217;s &8220;Great One&8221; merits the gunslinger mantra. He wears it like a finely-tailored suit. The personality not only suits Favre, it defines him on and off the field.

The brilliance and instability contained in the character are responsible for his Super Bowl runs, his numerous NFL records, the 29 interceptions he tossed two seasons ago and the Packers&8217; failure to reach the sport&8217;s grandest stage in what many thought to be Favre&8217;s final season.

Now, that same temperment is marring the proposed end of Favre&8217;s career, tarnishing his legacy while simultaneously validating it. The man who played every down with the flare, passion and purity of a child in a backyard football game is now suffering from the same childish nature in his efforts to permanently hang up his cleats.

But this is no less than most attentive Favre fans expected. The supposed last pass of his career was an interception during a critical moment of the NFC title game against the Giants. It was an ill-advised throw that put the final nail in the coffin of Favre&8217;s dream sequence.

See, winning that game against the G-men would have set Favre up for a storybook as magical and awe-inspiring as the rest of his career. It would have left him in position to lead his team to victory over the undefeated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, allowing him to gun down another legacy as he put the perfect shine on his. The victory would have brought his career full circle as the Patriots would have played the role of the defeated in Favre&8217;s final Super Bowl much the way they did in his first. Brett then would have been able to ride off into the sunset with no bitter taste in his mouth, no regrets, no looking back.

Unfortunately, it appears Brett didn&8217;t get the memo that his last throw would haunt him through the offseason. He missed the part of the script that left his ego bruised.

Gunslingers don&8217;t ride off into the sunset until after that last glorious battle. If they never get it, they keep fighting until time passes them by.

It appears such will be the case with Brett Favre. He&8217;s going to fight and claw and scratch at that itch until it goes away or somebody else tells him that its over.

Even if he never sets foot in an NFL locker room again, Brett Favre will ride the same emotional rollercoaster, debating a triumphant return and contemplating what could be until he knows that he can&8217;t hack it anymore. Then and only then will he hang up his guns.

Jeremy D. Smith is the sports editor of The Times. You can reach him at 334-289-4017.