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I just love football

Jay Fitzpatrick | Thursday, September 11, 2008

When I began actively watching football, there was no NFL team in Baltimore. I was stuck in the interregnum between the Colts leaving in 1984 and the Ravens showing up in 1996.

This left me with a gaping hole in my fandom. Sure, I had the Orioles for baseball and the Terps for basketball, but what was I to do on Sundays? Who would be my team?

And then, I remember this gun-slinging country boy who just loves football. Brett Favre.

No, this is not meant to be sarcastic, nor is it my own personal take on the Frank Caliendo-John Madden bit. Brett Favre just loved the game, and that made him and the Packers fun to watch.

And so my hopes and dreams rose and fell with the fate of the Green Bay Packers. I can remember how great I felt when Favre led his team to Super Bowl glory against the Patriots, and how down I was when he fell to the Broncos the next year.

Even after the Ravens moved to town, I still held a special place in my sporting heart for Favre, who was thankfully in the other conference. To me, he was the unparalleled best football player in the league, and I did nothing but support everything he did.

Fast forward to 2008, when Brett Favre retires in winter.

A part of me is sad that one of my last childhood icons is moving on, going the way of Cal Ripken, Jr. But the guy had just broken every major career passing record and was a sure-thing Hall of Famer. EA Sports announced that Favre would grace the cover of Madden 09 – the first retired player to do so.

But then, over the summer, as you all assuredly know if you watched, listened to or read anything sports-related during a three-month span, Favre came back in a kind of sleazy way. Most of his former fans (except a few diehards in Wisconsin) turned their back on him. The conversations changed from where he ranks among all-time greatest quarterbacks to a more South Parkian question of whether he is a giant douche or a turd sandwich.

And yes, even I turned my back on him.

But then, during my fantasy football draft, as I scrolled through the QB rankings searching for a backup quarterback, I saw “Favre, B. NYJ.” Debating between him and the Broncos’ Jay Cutler, I took nearly my full 90 seconds. And then I caved. In a rebirth of my childhood passion for the Packers, I took Favre.

And then last Sunday, when the NFL made its long awaited return, I watched the Jets game – likely the only time I have watched a Jets-Dolphins game with such vigor and enthusiasm, to watch Favre do his thing. And he did not disappoint. Watching the Jets last Sunday, I saw the same Brett Favre that made me a Packers fan in my youth.

The city has changed. The shade of green has changed. But the Favre remains the same. He is still the gun-slinging country boy he always was.

So lay off Brett Favre. He just loves football.