Friday, March 7, 2008

This one’s for Robert...The End of an Era

My nephew Robert is 10 y/o and he lives in Wisconsin and he mourns with that entire state, the retirement of Brett Favre.

When I was 10 my favorite quarterback was also a Green Bay Packer – Bart Starr. He, Sonny Jurgenson, and Johnny Unitas were arguably the best quarterbacks of that generation, certainly in my mind the two best quarterbacks of my early youth – a time long since passed.

In my teens it would be Roger Staubach, John Brodie, Len Dawson, Bob Griese and Terry Bradshaw who’d take those spots.

In my early young adulthood it would be Joe Montana, John Elway, Dan Marino

By the mid-1990s when I approached my forties, Troy Aikman, Steve Young and Brett Favre had taken that mantle.

With the new millennium, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning seem poised to eclipse most if not all of Favre’s records and surpass him in both winning percentage and Super Bowl rings.

One thing that Favre won’t soon be surpassed in is his durability (253 consecutive starts, 275 including the playoffs) and his childlike joy of playing a kids game on the biggest of stages.

If I were out in Wisconsin now, I’d tell Robert that it’s natural to grieve the passing of such figures, as their passing’s ultimately measure the passing of our own lives in eras. There’ll be sports figures that stand out from your early youth, your teens, and throughout your adulthood, measuring era by era, the passing of the times of your life.

From Bart Starr to Brett Favre to Aaron Rogers in Green Bay, from Roger Staubach to Troy Aikman to Tony Romo in Dallas, that’s how time is measured in “sports years.”

“It happens to us all,” is what they say, and that’s true enough, and that’s all natural and we should feel it...we SHOULD grieve the passing of time. So long as you love this life, it’s good, every once in awhile to be reminded of its inexorable passing.

So, when people mourn the passing of such icons, they’re really mourning the passing of a part of their own lives. For a fleeting moment we are each made painfully aware of our own mortality by accepting that each era, whether in sports or in life, is destined to pass.

Robert, you’ll have many more eras as you grow. Here’s hoping that each one is more enjoyable than the last.


Uncle Joe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Uncle Joe said...

Favre was a lot of fun to watch. He brought back the dread other teams had for the frozen tundra.

JMK said...

He sure did!

His greatest liability (that he was "too much of a gun-slinger") was also what made him so beloved.

He not only had a childlike enthusiams for the game and kid's LOVE for it, he also had a kid's supreme confidence.

He was never afraid to take chances...or the hits that came with that!

Mick Brady said...

hey Joe, I realize this will put me in an older age bracket, but since you brought up the subject of childhood football heroes, I can't let this pass without a mention of two more greats: Otto Graham and Y.A. Tittle.

I still have vivid memories of the miracles they performed on the field back in the 50s and 60s, providing some of the greatest thrills of my boyhood football fan-aticism.

JMK said...

You're probably not all that much older than I am....I remember hearing about Y. A. Title, Frank Gifford and Sam Huff, but don't remember ever seeing them play.

As a real little kid I remember one game between the Eagles and Redskins, probably shortly after Snead and Jurgensen traded teams...I was too young to really appreciate tat game, but I do recall it as one game I saw televised.

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