September 27, 1992.
I was a senior in high school, eagerly awaiting my acceptance letter from Carnegie Mellon University. Between us, I firmly believe the extra 250 points the SATs give you for spelling your name correctly put me over the top. “Wayne’s World” kept me sane by repeatedly asking, “Are you mental?” Kriss Kross promised to make me Jump! Jump!
And for the first time in 25 years, the Pittsburgh Steelers had a new coach roaming the sideline. Emperor Chuck Noll had stepped aside and his successor was a fiery, spit-spewing, thirty-five year old former KC assistant with a lantern jaw that would make Jay Leno jealous. It was Bill Cowher’s first season as head coach and this native son of Pittsburgh made us all proud by getting the Steelers off to a 2-0 start.
In week three, we played the Green Bay Packers. The city, the team, and even I were on a roll and none of us were ready for the ride to end. We had every reason to think it would continue as the Majik Man, quarterback Don Majkowski, was injured the previous week, forcing the sorry Pack to turn to some nobody making his first career NFL start.
That guy’s name was Brett Favre. And not only did he start, he won. He threw for over 200 yards and two touchdown passes, handing the Steelers a crushing 17-3 defeat. Brett started the next week. Then the next. In fact, he went on to start 253 games in a row. Along the way he picked up three MVP awards, reached two Super Bowls (winning one), set a whole slew of quarterbacking records, and left us all with a number of memorable performances.
Yes, I’ve been critical of Favre from time to time. I do happen to feel this retirement should’ve taken place 2-3 years ago. Granted, he had a pretty damn good year last season but the last couple prior to that were so bad that nobody, other than the most ardent of Favre supporters (which apparently includes 98% of the media), saw them as anything more than him hanging around just to break a few records.
That said, he has had an incredible career, and those few bad years won’t diminish his prior accomplishments. He’s easily a top-10 all-time QB and a first-ballot Hall of Famer. While I’ve never been his biggest fan, or even a big fan, he has my respect. And I’m sure when September 2008 rolls around, we’ll all find it a little bit weird and a little bit sad to have an NFL season without #4 playing for the Packers.
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