Brett Favre is one of the most beloved players in NFL history, and his retirement last week inspired heartfelt tributes from many of his most devoted followers. Naturally, some of those who loved Favre reacted to my suggestion that he ended his career at an opportune time by sharing their unbridled passion.
Hack … stupid, complete moron … sad excuse for a human being … loser … egotistical … idiot … putz … retard … sick … selfish … worst sportswriter ever … Throw in some unprintable insults and the obligatory butchering of the English language, and you pretty much get the idea.
It could have been worse. Imagine if I hadn't written of Favre, "I adore the guy as both a person and a player."
Realistically, I expected this kind of reaction. What caught me off guard was the equal and opposite response the same column provoked from the same fan base, including one reader (Mike from Brookfield, Wis.) who compared my "simply beautiful" piece to "the perfect eulogy to a funeral" and said that his "heart is at peace" because of it.
Whoa. Even I don't give myself that kind of love.
Based on a relatively large sample size, I believe I could walk into any bar in Wisconsin tonight and get free beers – while having others dumped unceremoniously on my head.
But enough about me … what do you think of me:
TRIPPIN' ON E(MAIL)
"Excellent article on Brett Favre. You did catch the moment and the feelings us Packer fans feel for Brett. I grew up during the Lombardi years and Bart Starr, but nothing compared to the delight in following Favre. He will be missed, but I am happy for him and his family."
Lake Geneva, Wis.
Thanks. If only you spoke for all Packers fans …
"Your analysis was that of a fan for another team. Jealous to the end and a disgrace to write regarding Favre. You can get your 15 seconds of recognition amongst the Favre haters. It has to kill a guy like you how much Favre was loved and respected. Long live Brett Lorenzo Favre."
No, what kills me is how you dropped the middle name into the end of your email. If I close my eyes, I can hear the late John Facenda intoning it now.
"Simply awesome. I love Brett more than words could ever express. I grew up with Brett, as has many other 20-somethings in this world, and to me, it doesn't get any better. Mr. Silver, I can tell you get it. You get being a Favre fan. Thank you for a great article. Go Pack, and thank you Brett. We miss you already!"
I love that you love Brett more than words could ever express. That's devotion.
"think the Packers will be better without Favre? Were you in the special class as a kid? He was the best, and still is one of them. 2nd in MVP voting. i dont think Rodgeres will be. Do you? How do you bash an icon like Brett Favre?"
I was in the class in which they taught punctuation, capitalization and spelling. Sorry you missed that one.
"Thank you for the extremely sincere and classy article on Brett Favre. On the day where there is a mixture of sadness, respect, and appreciation for what we have experienced, you should be proud of the way you shared your thoughts. I don't think anybody could have said it better. Thank you!"
I'm glad you caught the sincerity.
"How far up your ass is your head? Brett didn't do the Packers a favor at all by retiring. He did himself a favor. He played long and hard, and put his whole heart into the organization as well as football itself. For you to say he did the Packers a favor is really a stupid act on your part. I think the best thing to happen now, would be for you to retire!"
I would, but I suspect you'd be kind of bored without me.
"That was a beautiful article on Brett Favre! An applause to you. I am from Green Bay and have a certain cosmic connection with Favre; so when I heard the news (last week), the day was ruined. The way you summed up the experience on that blustery, snowy day was exquisite."
Thanks. Cosmic connections are awesome.
"What a real idiot you are. How insensitive. … You profess to say you love Farve and are a huge fan yet instead of just writing about him retiring and glossing about his achievements, you take the danger turn and focus on, in your rotten opinion, the necessity for him to retire now … Perhaps it is time … but I doubt that Rogers or any other QB could have taken the Packers to the conference title game. Instead of giving glory to a great career, you take it upon yourself to say how good he was but he needed to retire and now. What a putz you are … what a selfish, self centered, egotistical idiot you are. … No fan worth his salt would even consider what you pulled. They want to hear what Farve gave to the game … but no … you want the spotlight and take from the game. … No wonder you are disliked more than any other writer, sports or otherwise. …You are sick and selfish and oh so idiotic..."
Tarpon Springs, Fla.
I feel like there's cosmic connection between us. But I could be misreading things.
"(Re: Brett) Thank you! You brought tears to my eyes. I was there for both."
Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
"The nerve I cannot believe you couldnt find a single better thing to write about this superstar than this. I honestly believe you are just a tard that likes to get people fired up so theyll read this garbage. Did you take into effect that everytime Rodgers has played hes been hurt. Brett didnt get hurt he was there every game. Get some class Michael Silver. Embrace a hero leaving the game. And please let us embrace you leaving soon if only reporters had short careers like football players."
Not to get too nitpicky about spelling and grammar, but if tard is a shortened form of retard, shouldn't there be an apostrophe at the beginning?
" 'Favre does Pack favor by ending Streak' Great piece, best article I've read on Favre's retirement. As a life long Packers fan, I found it odd that he would not come back for one more in 2008, but your story reveals some of the thinking that may have gone on in his decision-making. Enjoyed reading your story."
Thanks. It was obviously a complex decision, and I think he got it right.
"(Expletive) You Mike! I remember you from last year! You're just a Favre hater like you've always been. He was the only color in a QB field that is decidedly vanilla. Even Tom Brady for all his 'brilliance' and Peyton Manning for all his 'greatness' don't, can't and won't ever come close to playing with the joy, passion, or grit that Brett brought to the game. It's been said many times but he truly did play it like a 12-year-old on the playground, and it is after all a game. Notice I didn't say it was 'just' a game, because for a true Packer Backer like me, there ain't no such thing!"
Terre Haute, Ind.
You had me at "(Expletive) You Mike" …
"A wonderful and heartwarming story about Farve. He has always been nothing less than a gentleman in a game of big brutes and bigger egos and he always approached the game with an intensity that was astounding. It is with gratitude that I read your story and the positive light you shined not only on Brett but on the gentlemen of sports as a whole. And you have placed yourself as one of the gentlemen of sports writers. Thank you."
No, thank you. You've got me all fired up. The next thing you know, I'm going to start opening doors for athletes and taking off my hat in their presence.
"Mike, I told you to not talk out your ass one time. I can't even remember what for and I really feel like an idiot. After an article like this, I'll never think that again. This article on Favre's retirement was great. Thanks. Keep up the good work."
All good, brother. My friends tell me that all the time.
"Great article. I feel the same way, sad as that sounds. I'm 29, and even though I've heard of Don Majkowski, I haven't the faintest idea what he was like as a footballer. It's like that one-word association game … you say 'Packers,' I say 'Favre' (I'm sure this'd work with the roles reversed, as well). It will be interesting to see what Rodgers (doesn't quite roll off the tongue yet) can do full time. But if he's half the player Favre is/was, the Pack should be in good hands. Thanks again for a great article. I don't always agree with what you're saying, but you're pretty damn funny, so even the 'bad' stuff is tolerable. I, for one, am glad you left that sinking ship known as SI and came to Yahoo!"
Three Rivers, Mich.
Thanks, man, though I'm a little concerned about the final line of the email. The last time someone mentioned me, my former employer and "sinking ship" in the same sentence, my archives abruptly disappeared from the website. (Thankfully it was just a temporary misunderstanding. SI and I are like the lovers who split up but stay good friends.)
"Did Brett Favre retire because he is my favorite QB?"
No. But I'm sure it played a significant role in his decision-making process.
"Read your column this Saturday on the six worst super bowls. I have no problem with your opinion. Everybody has one on any subject. The thing that most impresses me is you can recall the highlights from Super Bowl II when you were two years old. Now that's impressive! Now that's a column worth writing about."
In retrospect, I remember being so excited during the first quarter that I peed my pants.
"Just have to ask: How in the heck did the Ravens-Giants snooze-worthy punt-fest not make the Top 3 of the worst Super Bowls? Ugly, dreary, boring, painful-to-watch game …"
That's a good question. I guess I've just got a thing for Trent Dilfer to Brandon Stokley. No, seriously, I give big points to dominant, all-time-great teams in their primes (i.e. the '89 and '94 49ers and the '92 and '93 Cowboys). The Ravens qualify on the defensive side. (In writing this, I realize the '85 Bears would also qualify, but I can't get past that Fridge-instead-of-Payton touchdown after all these years.).
"Your just a Steeler hater you looser. Your favorite team is most likely the flavor of the week like the cheating pats."
My favorite team is the California Golden Bears, who have not been to a Rose Bowl since 1959. That said, all of us who had the pleasure of attending the world's greatest university are familiar with the proper use of you're vs. your … and we definitely know how to spell loser.
"One of your most recent articles is complete (expletive). I guess you must be either a Browns or Seattle fan becuase theres really no reason for 2 of the Steelers Super Bowl wins to be on your worst games of all time list. So why dont you take a look at the history of the game and relaize that you are retarded and you might want to look into a new job."
"Retarded" people can't be sports columnists? Since when?