Tuesday, August 18, 2009
rett Favre was responsible for shaping my identity.
This isn't about idolatry or man-love - I never knew the guy, never spoke to him, never resurrected a shrine in his name and never really viewed him as a childhood hero - but it is about how rock-solid affiliations can guide and strengthen a persona.
Throughout my 18 years in Minnesota, from birth to high school graduation, I was a lot of things - a pianist, a soccer player, a runner, a golfer, a cool kid, a nerd, a valedictorian, a leader and a follower - but above all else, I was a Packers fan.
After all, adolescence is largely about trying to define everyone else so you don't have to define yourself. The problem with physical appearance, personality and co-curricular involvement is that these things all change. Team loyalties, however, perservere.
And when you're the biggest Packers fan all your suburban Minnesota friends know, it's an easy thing to latch on to.
So there I was. The marked Packers fan. And this is where Favre came into play.
To me, to all Packers fans, and to most sports types out there, Favre was The Touchdown King. He was the guy you couldn't hate, no matter how many times he beat you.
To Vikings fans, however, he was The Interception King. Giving Favre credit for anything was almost as difficult as showing up to the Metrodome when the Vikings weren't undefeated.
Thus, I lived my young life adding arguments, facts and stats to my arsenal of Favre (and Packers) defenses. If No. 4 threw one too many picks or if the Pack took an ugly loss, I had to mentally prepare myself for the Monday onslaught.
"Ha! Favre sucks!"
"Pete, I gotta thank you, man. Having Favre on my opponent's fantasy team has given me a newfound respect for the guy."
"Hey Simones, what was the score of the Packers game yesterday? I had to mow my lawn."
"Favre - what a bitch!"
...It was only 8 a.m.
But I took it. I dished it back. I grew to love it.
And because of it, I always had a consistent identity - the guy on the wrong side of the NFL fence that was up for any challenge thrown his way.
The Interception King moniker became something I spun as a positive. "Hey, if a guy has been allowed to throw that many interceptions," I'd say, "then he must have done a helluva lot of things right."
To this day, it's how many old friends remember me.
"It's been about 5 years since we've last spoken," said one such friend on my Facebook wall Monday, "but it only seems appropriate to say hello on this glorious day."
If it weren't for Favre, I might not be a Packers fan. Admittedly, when you're young, you want to root for a team that wins, and Green Bay did a lot of that in the nineties.
And if it weren't for Favre, I might not have grasped at the early age I did how rewarding it can be to walk your own path.
So it's only fitting, I suppose, that Favre has chosen to end his story by blazing a trail that almost no one has ventured down before.
Sure, Joe Montana played for the Chiefs, but he certainly didn't play for the Cowboys or Packers. Emmitt Smith didn't play for the Redskins. Reggie White didn't play for the Vikings or Bears.
As a Packers fan, naturally I'm a little perturbed. I can only imagine what the dude with the bright green and yellow painted house is doing in Prescott (a border town) right now.
But as a Minnesotan, I'm a little humored. If nothing else, this does prove that Vikings fans drive the biggest bandwagon in all of sports.
It's ironic that I spoke with Aaron Rodgers at length just 1 month ago at the ESPY's pre-party in Los Angeles - an event Favre would surely never show up to.
Rodgers told me candidly that he'd never really gotten over the "Favre thing" last season - the media made it impossible for him to forget.
Based on recent events, Rodgers has at least another year to go before getting that Favre thing off his back.
But beat Favre twice, Aaron, and you won't mind looking back on the early years of your career and acknowledging that Favre shaped your identity, too.