His personal decsions (unretiring repeatedly, Crocgate, etc) will forever be questioned and criticized, but his professional legacy will go unchallenged- Brett Favre is one of the greatest to ever play the game, and he is now walking away for good.
As Bears fans, we watched him torch our team year after year, and cursed his name whenever possible. We loathed the colors he wore, and taught our children to do the same. He was the ultimate enemy.
But for a moment, let's remove all personal biases, and look at some of the records he owns or shares:
Consecutive starts: 297 (321 including playoffs)
Regular season victories by a QB: 186
Career passing TDs: 508
Career passing yards: 71,838
Consecutive wins by a QB in one stadium: 29 (Lambeau 1995-1998)
And the list goes on and on... there is even a Wiki page just for his accomplishments.
Brett Favre, regardless of our personal opinions of him, was one of the greatest to ever step on the field. The NFL was better because of Favre, and seeing someone hang up the cleats after 20 years in the league is bittersweet.
John Madden, long-time Favre supporter, once talked about Favre's indecision after unretiring for the second or third time. He explained it this way: Going all the way back to high school (and maybe before), Brett Favre had a very similar routine and schedule when it came to football. Play in the Fall, rest in the Winter, and start back training in the Spring. He did that for most of his life.
So, when Favre would step in front of the microphone after the season was over, and would say that his mind just wasn't in it anymore, and that he had accomplished everything that he could have possibly wanted, he meant it. When he said he was retiring, he really meant it. His brain and his heart were probably not in it anymore.
But the thing is, it wasn't his brain or heart that would make him antsy come Spring... it was his body. His entire life, he started getting his body back in football shape after the winter was over. It was his schedule for most of his life. So, even when he retired, his body started telling him to get up and go come Spring.
We would hear of him starting to throw with the local high school kids, just for fun of course, and the next thing we knew, he was calling Bus Cook telling him that he wanted to play. His body was telling him he had to play. And that's an urge that was too strong for him to overcome.
It was Brett's body that kept him coming back, and his body that finally broke down to the point that made him step away. I'm sure this Spring, he'll get the itch again, but his body will change its mind.
Regardless of whether his personal legacy will be tainted, his professional one will remain a thing of legend.
Farewell Brett Favre.