With the national spotlight directly hitting him in the chest, Brett Favre was exposed for what he really is - a gifted quarterback with plenty of class and charm ... oh, and a little talent too.
On Monday night, Favre reminded the world of all that when he connected with three different receivers to propel the Packers to another convincing victory, this one a 37-0 victory over the Washington Redskins. With the football world buzzing about the Mannings and McNabbs in the quarterback galaxy, perhaps Favre's performance was a declaration to everybody watching, as if to say "Yo, I'm still here, and I'm still good."
In a time where regular people with regular jobs such as firefighters and policemen are becoming heroes in their own right, here is somebody who comes off - plain and simple - as an ordinary guy who does extraordinary things. Favre has traveled the same paths a lot of Americans journey, and he's still the same, smiling Brett. We've seen him develop into an exceptional football player, and he has the same modesty and demeanor as every person working at Ground Zero - proud to help out, but not doing it with any other agenda other than 'it's the right thing to do.'
You sort of have to hope young, upstart players starting to come into their own in the league end up like Favre. In an era of bad boys, punks, thugs and the like, Favre's the good ol' boy. The kid who would mow your lawn for five bucks so he could put it towards a video game rather than have his parents give it to him. Not that Favre has to mow lawns anymore. Now, he drives down them, particularly the one at 1265 Lombardi Avenue.
Favre also has plenty of moxie, and he's not afraid to gamble on a play. Exhibit A: Favre was picked off in the end zone by rookie Fred Smoot, and once he realized he got picked, followed by a hard shot by Redskin David Terrell, he sat on the ground like a kid who realized he was three minutes too late for the ice cream truck. Realizing he made a foolish mistake, Favre got up and shook his head. It looked like a good idea at the time. There went seven points - not that he needed them on this night, but you could almost taste Favre's disappointment and the subsequent Lambeau faithful's forgiveness.
Therein lies the secret power of Favre. If spinach is Popeye's instant source of strength, Favre's fanatics give Brett his power to achieve, though having an arm as accurate as his isn't bad either. Neither are his guts, and he's got them. He has played with sprained thumbs, bad wheels, and he's gone toe-to-toe with Tampa jawjacker Warren Sapp. During Monday's game, Dennis Miller wondered aloud why Favre was still playing in the fourth quarter even though the Pack had a nice lead, and Dan Fouts summed it up nicely: "You'll have to get a team of wild horses to get him out of there." The next play, Favre slid head-first for a first down to keep the clock rolling. Guts.
Like the blue-collared Americans tearing away at the rubble and steel in New York City and at the Pentagon, Favre is a role model too. He was not one of these blue-chip No. 1 overall draft choices. Heck, Dan McGwire and Todd Marinovich, two highly-touted quarterbacks back in the day, were drafted before Atlanta took Favre. He did not receive a zillion-dollar contract before taking his first NFL snap. He even has not recorded his own album, although given the chance, he'd probably give it a good shot.
Favre is not just an example, he is THE example. He's overcome being looked over, picked on, and criticized to go on and win a Super Bowl, and still play as well as he did on that Sunday in New Orleans in 1997. He had it then, and he still has it today, and he's done it admirably.
We should all be so lucky that our kids end up being as goodhearted as Brett Favre. Let's just hope the kids don't get involved in a chat with Warren Sapp following a sack anytime soon.