The simple truth
Strain of being an icon won out over love of the game
Posted: Tuesday March 4, 2008 9:41PM; Updated: Wednesday March 5, 2008 1:13AM
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- As it turns out, it's not about Randy Moss, it's not about being hurt, it's not about any dissatisfaction with something the Packers did or did not do.
"I'm tired,'' Brett Favre said from his home in Mississippi today, and he repeated it four times in a voice mail he left me, explaining why he decided to retire, at 38, after one of the best seasons of his NFL career.
"I'm just tired. I wish I had some, you know, big, dramatic, exotic reason why. But I don't. I know I can still play, but I'm just tired. Mentally I'm just drained.''
Favre has had several conversations with the Packers in recent days, including a lengthy one with coach Mike McCarthy last Thursday. In that conversation, he broached retirement for the first time ever with McCarthy, and McCarthy told him to be absolutely sure before he made the decision final. Favre discussed the decision with wife Deanna over the weekend, then phoned the coach Monday with his decision to retire. He spoke again with McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson on Tuesday, and he didn't have any deep, dark secrets about why he was walking away from the game.
There's little doubt that the strain of being an NFL icon has drained Favre over the years. He has long loved the quiet lifestyle of his 465-acre home in Hattiesburg, Miss., and it's become increasingly hard for him every July to get on the airplane north to training camp in Green Bay. Particularly with the way Green Bay played last year in an NFC North-winning season, Favre felt anything less than winning a Super Bowl this year would be a failed season. He wasn't willing to sign on for another season of that kind of pressure. So the intense five-month grind of being the face of the Packers ended up being the prime reason why he is walking away.
You could hear it in his voice today: The strain of being Favre won over the love of the game.
"I don't know if I could get myself ready again," he said. "I probably could. I was talking to Ted and Mike this morning and I said I probably could get myself ready again. But honestly, I don't know if I want to. It's the stress of preparing and all that stuff. I don't know ... I don't know."
Favre said he wanted to clear up misconceptions that have surfaced in recent days about why he might retire, including one rumor that if the Packers stepped up and signed Moss, he'd return. Moss, in truth, was never close to signing a contract with Green Bay this week before re-upping with the Patriots for three years and $27 million. "They're saying it's because of Moss," Favre said, "but it's definitely not."
Then he paused.
"I don't know any other way to say it," he said. "I'm just tired."