Heroes in unfamiliar uniforms

Favre

I want to remember Brett Favre scrambling around in the snow, looking downfield, spotting a receiver in the end zone, threading a pass between the outstretched arms of a winded deep safety for the winning touchdown, jumping into the arms of a big lineman and riding off the field into history as the greatest quarterback to play the game.

That's what I want to remember.

I want to remember Brett Favre trotting out to the huddle, a two-day beard showing beneath his chin strap, a playful look in his little-boy eyes, knowing the game is on the line, showing no fear, knowing he's the best athlete on the field and proving it for almost two decades in the NFL.

I want to remember the gunslinger who takes on all comers, stands his ground, plays every game like it could be his last, believes in magic and fairytales and dreams that come true.

I want this football hero, this amazing athlete, this impish icon, to make a graceful exit into history, and stay there.

I want to remember Brett Favre as a Green Bay Packer. Period.

Forever young

There's something very wrong about seeing our heroes in unfamiliar uniforms.

Like Babe Ruth as a Boston Brave. Joe Montana as a Kansas City Chief. Emmitt Smith as an Arizona Cardinal. Michael Jordan as a Washington Wizard. Johnny Unitas as a San Diego Charger.

You know what I mean.

It just ain't right.

At 38 years old, Favre might come back and play for another team and somehow be even better than he ever was during those 16 years on the Frozen Tundra in Wisconsin.

But probably not.

I just don't want Favre's career to end on a downer, like that famous photo of Giants quarterback Y.A. Tittle, on his knees, bloodied, battered, defeated.

Heroes have an unspoken responsibility to those who idolize them. They should remain etched in our mental scrapbook, exactly the way we remember them, always smiling, with the sun on their face and the wind at their backs, forever young.

Cue the violins

What bothers me most about Favre's situation is how he's painted the Packers into a corner.

Favre's swan song after last season's glorious run to the playoffs was perfectly scripted. He played, he won, he cried, he rode off into the sunset. The Packers named the field in his honor. They even erected a statue. Cue the violins. Fade to black.

For him to suddenly change his mind is not fair to his former team or his former teammates. They had already moved on, planning for life without Favre. And rightly so.

I suppose we shouldn't be surprised when athletes or coaches find retirement isn't much fun. They've lived a life in front of cheering crowds and can't stand the silence when the applause fades away.

But timing is everything in life.

And sports is no different.

I had already put Brett Favre on a crowded shelf with other superheroes who had their day and knew when to quit. Bobby Richardson, Arnold Palmer, Hank Aaron, Muhammad Ali, Wilt Chamberlain, Roger Staubach.

And there they will stay, where they should be, frozen in time.

Reach Ken Burger at 937-5598 or kburger@postandcourier.com.