Senator John McCain weighed in on the retirement of Brett Favre this morning. On his campaign plane in San Antonio, Texas, I told McCain about Favre.
“Did you hear the big news?” I said, deliberately obtuse. Then I broke the news.
Several other people in the front of the plane expressed shock upon hearing the news. “Brett Favre retired?” McCain, who might be expected to identify with Favre on age issues, thought about it a moment and then said he agreed with Favre’s decision.
“Actually, I’m glad he retired. I was worried he was going to get hurt.”
In his final season, at the age of 38, Favre was statistically a top-five quarterback. Favre, a three-time NFL MVP, is one of the most durable professional athletes of all time. He leaves in the middle of a streak of 253 consecutive starts, a stunning accomplishment made even more remarkable by the fact that he plays quarterback. He is a sure-thing first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback and will be remembered as perhaps the best quarterback in NFL history. He holds most of the individual records for quarterbacks, including: 160 wins as starter, 61,655 passing yards, 5377 completions, 8758 attempts, and 442 passing touchdowns, 22 more than his closest competitor (Dan Marino). Favre also passed for more than 20 touchdowns in 13 of his 17 seasons.
“Physically, I feel okay.” “I know I can still play. I’m just tired mentally.”
As the 2007 season neared an end, Favre indicated that he was likely to play in 2008 and perhaps beyond that. And after the Packers were upset at home by the New York Giants in the NFC Championship game, Favre promised that he would have a decision on retirement quickly. As days and then weeks passed with no word from Favre, many of those close to him began to assume that he would retire.
Favre called the Packers to inform them of his decision within the last 24 hours. It came at the same time that the New England Patriots announced that they had reached a three-year deal with wide receiver Randy Moss. The two announcements were related.
Favre talked to Randy Moss late last week. Chris Mortensen, who seems to have talked to Randy Moss about it, says that Favre committed to playing more if Moss would have signed with the Packers. Mortensen says that in a three-minute voicemail Favre left for him, Favre tried to downplay speculation that the Moss situation was decisive.
Mortensen doesn’t buy it. “If Randy Moss were a Packer today, Brett Favre would be playing football and I guess playing football beyond 2008,” said Chris Mortensen in an appearance on ESPN News this morning.
Still, given how has struggled publicly with his decision over the course of several years, there are some observers who believe he could change his mind.
“I think there’s a chance that he comes back,” said former Denver Broncos offensive lineman Mark Schlereth. “Yes, he said he’s retired but it is March. But July comes around, August comes around and he could come back…I played a guy by the name of Gary Zimmerman who retired every March and came back every July.”