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Monday, January 17, 2011
Brett Favre: A walking contradiction

By Jemele Hill
ESPN.com

Now that Brett Favre has officially filed his retirement paperwork with the NFL, the natural question is this: How will we remember Favre?

But maybe a better question is this: How could we possibly forget him?

In the history of sports, there's never been anyone like Favre. Not as a quarterback. Not as a sports figure.

Favre
Brett Favre threw more touchdown passes than anyone in the history of the game, most of them for the Packers.

Of course, I feel obligated to mention that we don't know for certain that Favre is finished with professional football, since he possesses that nasty habit of changing his mind.

But let's assume that this retirement is indeed real.

How will we forget Brett Favre?

He isn't a villain.

He isn't a saint.

He is loved.

He is loathed.

He is compelling.

He is insincere.

He has an ego.

He was passionate.

He was embarrassing.

He is engaging.

He was selfish.

He was thrilling.

He was overrated.

He was underrated.

No quarterback has thrown more touchdowns than Favre.

And none has thrown more interceptions.

He finished his career his way.

It always must be Favre's way. Just ask Brad Childress and Ted Thompson.

No NFL player has started more consecutive games than Favre.

Brett Favre
Favre's time with the Jets was relatively brief, and not altogether successful.

And few players have ended games like Favre, especially when it comes to interceptions.

His wife survived cancer.

His wife survived his indiscretions.

He is a grandfather.

He lost his own father.

He knew how to command the big stage, especially on Monday nights.

He knew how to command the small stage, especially in the offseason.

In 2009, Favre had one of his best seasons, throwing 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions as the Vikings came within one game of reaching the Super Bowl.

In 2010, he had one of his worst. He was fined $50,000 for not cooperating with an investigation into whether he sent inappropriate text messages to former Jets employee Jenn Sterger. He also suffered a busted chin, a concussion and a broken ankle.

Favre played the game with a joyous recklessness.

For a time, he took painkillers with the same recklessness; and in 1996, he went to rehab.

He led the Green Bay Packers to their first Super Bowl title in 29 years.

And when he left the Green Bay Packers, it was one of the ugliest divorces we've ever seen in sports.

He gave us incredible memories.

Memories we can buy on his website for as much as $700.

He played 20 years.

What's he going to do for the next 20 years?

If I had a son, I would want him to play football like Favre.

If I had a daughter, I wouldn't want her near Favre.

Last season, he played like he was 21 even though he was 40.

Brett Favre
You can say this: Favre never quit. (Sometimes, he didn't quit even after he'd retired.)

This season, he played like he was 41 because, well, he is 41.

He was a warrior.

But he wasn't always a winner.

He loved his fans.

He loved himself.

He played for four teams.

He retired three times.

He holds the record for passing yards.

And unofficially, he holds the record for free passes.

He never quit.

He didn't know when to quit.

How can we ever forget Brett Favre?

Jemele Hill can be reached at jemeleespn@gmail.com.

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