When Brett Favre decided to return to football last summer, it created something he'd never experienced before in Green Bay. Beloved from his very first game in green and gold, Favre became a pariah who many despised for his unwillingness to cede the spotlight to Aaron Rodgers and for his rips of a Packer organization that had done everything in the world to make him comfortable. He wouldn't return the favor and, worse, acted like the Packers treated him badly.
In New York, he got a hero's welcome, but he never actually became a hero. Whatever happened in Green Bay, stayed in Green Bay, especially once it became clear that the old gunslinger was more prone to throwing interceptions than touchdowns down the stretch. Fans of other teams, tired of the outsize attention paid to Favre by Peter King, John Madden and others in the football media, were gleeful as Favre limped to the finish and the Jets missed the playoffs.
When he made it clear that he wasn't going to guarantee anything about 2009, the groans came from all three factions. Favre, long praised for being a tough guy and wonderful teammate, had become a selfish character who only cared about keeping the spotlight on himself. Another protracted saga about his future threatened to further diminish the sparkling numbers and memorable memories of his Hall of Fame career.
It appears that won't be the case, although it's probably wise to place bets on other things. Favre's decision to walk away now will make the year with the Jets to a blip on his career, akin to Johnny Unitas suiting up for the Chargers, instead of a moment that redefines people's memories of him. It didn't end well with the Jets, but there weren't any guarantees and no one with the Jets can get too upset about the way things played out.
It won't take long for Favre's better points to regain their prominence in the minds of the average football fan. It will take longer for Packers fans, but it won't be forever. He still won a Super Bowl and a lot of other games for a franchise that is now as identified with Favre as any of the stars of the 60's. Assuming he's really retired, it won't be more than a couple of years before Favre is feted at Lambeau Field and all is forgiven.