Shakespearean tragedy in Green Bay

You know how in “King Lear,” he walks out at the end holding the body of his daughter, and we’re at the “no worst, there is none” moment, and just at the saddest point, Lear, mad with grief, thinks that he sees her breathing after all, and how that injection of false hope right then just makes it EVEN WORSE, breaking Lear’s heart and making him die? So goes this column by Michael Wilbon, who writes a noble elegy for Bret Favre upon his retirement, only to inject at the very end the possibility that he might be back!

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    He cried a bit too much. Here in Vikingland, the radio discussions are really flying about the press conference. I guess I never really “got” Bret Favre; it was a Packer thing. Also, if it’s not about the records (as Favre said), why did he retire now…after he obtained more records? Just sayin…

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    He cried a bit too much. Here in Vikingland, the radio discussions are really flying about the press conference. I guess I never really “got” Bret Favre; it was a Packer thing. Also, if it’s not about the records (as Favre said), why did he retire now…after he obtained more records? Just sayin…

  • Joe

    You should watch the press conference. If you do, it will be absolutely impossible to think it was about the records.

    But how do you not “get” Brett Favre? I’ll break it down for you. Brett is like that exciting friend you had back in high school. He was funny, cool, everyone wanted to be like him or with him, but he was humble. And every once in a while he would talk you into doing something you really shouldn’t do but you’d have a ball and most of the time it would work out in the end.

  • Joe

    You should watch the press conference. If you do, it will be absolutely impossible to think it was about the records.

    But how do you not “get” Brett Favre? I’ll break it down for you. Brett is like that exciting friend you had back in high school. He was funny, cool, everyone wanted to be like him or with him, but he was humble. And every once in a while he would talk you into doing something you really shouldn’t do but you’d have a ball and most of the time it would work out in the end.

  • Bruce

    After seeing Brett’s agony during that press conference, I think he would do just about anything to not have to go through that again. He stays retired.

    As for my affection for Brett Favre: It is somehow much stronger having suffered through his spectacular failures as well as gloried in his successes. The failures made him accessible to us dumb fishin’-through-the-ice Wisconsinites. It was sort of a “Ayup. I coulda done that” sort of relationship.

  • Bruce

    After seeing Brett’s agony during that press conference, I think he would do just about anything to not have to go through that again. He stays retired.

    As for my affection for Brett Favre: It is somehow much stronger having suffered through his spectacular failures as well as gloried in his successes. The failures made him accessible to us dumb fishin’-through-the-ice Wisconsinites. It was sort of a “Ayup. I coulda done that” sort of relationship.

  • PeteS

    Theresa K. said:
    “He cried a bit too much… Also, if it’s not about the records (as Favre said), why did he retire now…after he obtained more records?”

    You sound like my wife’s aunt. If it’s not about hating the Packers, why do you bring up the negative about Favre? Or maybe it is about hating the Packers. No problem, that’s fine, it’s a part of sports in our country. But something tells me that if Favre had spent 17 years as the Viking quarterback, you’d have a different opinion, and I’d be the one saying he cried too much and looked like he was all about the records. :)

    And since I don’t want to drop dead like dear Lear, I also believe he’s staying retired.

  • PeteS

    Theresa K. said:
    “He cried a bit too much… Also, if it’s not about the records (as Favre said), why did he retire now…after he obtained more records?”

    You sound like my wife’s aunt. If it’s not about hating the Packers, why do you bring up the negative about Favre? Or maybe it is about hating the Packers. No problem, that’s fine, it’s a part of sports in our country. But something tells me that if Favre had spent 17 years as the Viking quarterback, you’d have a different opinion, and I’d be the one saying he cried too much and looked like he was all about the records. :)

    And since I don’t want to drop dead like dear Lear, I also believe he’s staying retired.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/22933148@N07/2314025642/ Cindy

    Theresa – with Joe, let me help you try to “get” Brett Favre. We love him so much because he’s our kid. You have a son, right? For Packer fans, watching Brett play was like watching your own kid playing a game and having the time of his life. The “kid” thing is important, because Favre had a care-free, fun-loving style that he never lost, at least on the field. Isn’t the childlike joy he showed when playing something we all wish we could regain in our own lives? The “our” is important too, because Favre really was ours. Not that we own him – we don’t – but we loved him as part of our family, our community. He wasn’t a player who stopped off here for a few years. He gave us 16 years, essentially his entire career. He’s Green Bay’s, even Wisconsin’s, favorite son. He’s everybody’s kid. When he was on the field, he was my kid, even though he’s older than me.

    I watched the entire press conference, and I respect him more than ever. He was impressively honest, heartfelt, humble, grateful, and grounded. He’ll be all right.

    He didn’t cry too much. He just showed how much he cared, how much he loved what he got to do for so long. He’d play forever if the human body would let him. But look at the poor guy – the physical toll of the game and the stress and pressure of the expectations he carried were aging him like a sitting president. He was a tough guy, and he wouldn’t admit he was struggling and worry his team while he still had a job to do. But now that he’s told us what the last season was like for him, it’s impossible to question his judgment that this was the time to go. He did his job as well as it could be done, far longer than anyone else could do it, and now it’s time for him to rest.

    And Bruce is right – it’s so hard for Favre to say goodbye, there’s no way he’ll return and have to retire all over again.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/22933148@N07/2314025642/ Cindy

    Theresa – with Joe, let me help you try to “get” Brett Favre. We love him so much because he’s our kid. You have a son, right? For Packer fans, watching Brett play was like watching your own kid playing a game and having the time of his life. The “kid” thing is important, because Favre had a care-free, fun-loving style that he never lost, at least on the field. Isn’t the childlike joy he showed when playing something we all wish we could regain in our own lives? The “our” is important too, because Favre really was ours. Not that we own him – we don’t – but we loved him as part of our family, our community. He wasn’t a player who stopped off here for a few years. He gave us 16 years, essentially his entire career. He’s Green Bay’s, even Wisconsin’s, favorite son. He’s everybody’s kid. When he was on the field, he was my kid, even though he’s older than me.

    I watched the entire press conference, and I respect him more than ever. He was impressively honest, heartfelt, humble, grateful, and grounded. He’ll be all right.

    He didn’t cry too much. He just showed how much he cared, how much he loved what he got to do for so long. He’d play forever if the human body would let him. But look at the poor guy – the physical toll of the game and the stress and pressure of the expectations he carried were aging him like a sitting president. He was a tough guy, and he wouldn’t admit he was struggling and worry his team while he still had a job to do. But now that he’s told us what the last season was like for him, it’s impossible to question his judgment that this was the time to go. He did his job as well as it could be done, far longer than anyone else could do it, and now it’s time for him to rest.

    And Bruce is right – it’s so hard for Favre to say goodbye, there’s no way he’ll return and have to retire all over again.

  • S Bauer

    Bart Simpson: “This is the worst day of my life.”
    Homer: “The worst day of your life, so far.

  • S Bauer

    Bart Simpson: “This is the worst day of my life.”
    Homer: “The worst day of your life, so far.

  • Norman Teigen

    Every football fan respects Brett Favre for the great champion that he was. There is, of course, no end to the mawkish sentimentality that emanates from Green Bay and the sycophants on ESPN. Get over it, people.

  • Norman Teigen

    Every football fan respects Brett Favre for the great champion that he was. There is, of course, no end to the mawkish sentimentality that emanates from Green Bay and the sycophants on ESPN. Get over it, people.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    I guess its a Norwegian (Minnesota) thing…people shouldn’t bawl at press conferences. The Germans (in Wisconsin) must feel more free to let it all out.

    You know, I tried really hard to think of a Viking player that Minnesotans hold close to their hearts…couldn’t think of a soul unless I went back to the 60′s (there are many from that era). Twins, yes: Vikings, no.

    I’m glad Brett Favre has such great and loyal fans in Wisconsin; he is very blessed! I don’t need to understand to respect that.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    I guess its a Norwegian (Minnesota) thing…people shouldn’t bawl at press conferences. The Germans (in Wisconsin) must feel more free to let it all out.

    You know, I tried really hard to think of a Viking player that Minnesotans hold close to their hearts…couldn’t think of a soul unless I went back to the 60′s (there are many from that era). Twins, yes: Vikings, no.

    I’m glad Brett Favre has such great and loyal fans in Wisconsin; he is very blessed! I don’t need to understand to respect that.


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