I watched Brett Favre play college football and couldn’t wait to see him in Atlanta, which was where I lived when he was drafted into the NFL. Well, we know what happened there. But it led to something better for this Packers fan. Soon he was wearing the down-home green and gold and for years, everything was right with the world. He played in a couple of Super Bowls and won one of them. Of course he had his critics. People said he was too reckless on the field. I called him fun. You could never count him out.
That’s why when Favre retired from Green Bay, I was bummed. There had been rumblings he wasn’t happy. Then the Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers. I thought to myself, “this isn’t going to end well.”
I won’t revisit every detail of Favre’s remaining years in Green Bay, but as disappointed as I was, I respected his decision. I didn’t always like them going forward (the Vikings? Come ONNNN …) but he didn’t break laws, only hearts. He was doing what he thought at the time was right for him. We’re entitled to that, you know.
That brings me to Andrew Luck. The top NFL draft pick by the Indianapolis Colts in 2012, a four-time Pro Bowler with four playoff appearances, Luck announced his sudden retirement this weekend. Almost instantly some fans defied the all-embracing Colts community. As word spread during a preseason game, he was reportedly booed off the field. Respect for a consensus No. 1 that nearly literally gave you his every gut? What did you do for ME lately, they ask?
Respect seems to be difficult to come by these days, and it was missing in some fans’ takes on Luck’s “sudden” retirement (he hadn’t practiced, an ankle injury was rumored to be more serious than reported …). Many call him “soft” or “cowardly.” I don’t know, but for a guy who suffered a laundry list of injuries throughout his professional football career, I wouldn’t call him soft. I’d call to ask him if he was able to stand this morning.
As fans, we don’t have to like what our favorite players do. And let’s be honest, there are some that deserve our wrath x 10. Luck is not one of them.
It’s a team game, you say. What about the teammates Luck let down? Well, you’ve seen the quarterback they’ve worked with during training camp and in preseason, and it hasn’t been Luck. His return was a best-guess scenario.
A 29-year-old man who got drilled on the field time and again worked his way back more than once and played with injuries that would debilitate the toughest of us, left the game before it dumped him. Fans may not like the timing or that they won’t see Luck brilliantly work his way back to put Ws on the ledger. But let’s be real — the same people that booed him would have called for his jersey had he started the season 0-3 and played like he says he feels.
Luck left the game at a time when he can still walk. Too many former football players can’t without assistance. And I know the argument about how people who fight for our country and our communities get hurt and go back to their jobs. But how much is too much physically and emotionally? That’s for individuals and their families to decide, not fans or media.
So let’s respect a man who threw a helluva pass for our entertainment. He has his life in front of him and I, for one, respect that he gets to decide what he’ll do next.
©Gail Sideman, gpublicity 2019