Favre is retiring from football. But is he retiring from retiring? Is he willing to do what the riffraff do, and actually watch football? Or does he have a private plane at the ready, in case the Minnesota Vikings need him or his ankle feels better or he just misses the taste of his own blood?
Please, please, let this be it. What is the old saying? Fool us into thinking you retired once, shame on you. Fool us into thinking you retired twice, shame on us. Fool us into thinking you retired three times, please shoot me.
The most disturbing part of Favre's latest retirement is that it feels exactly like his second retirement. Last year, Favre tried to rehab his injured shoulder, decided it hadn't healed properly and retired. Then -- miraculously! -- it felt okie-dokie and he came back.
This year, he tried to rehab his injured ankle and has apparently decided it hasn't healed properly. I'm not saying the ankle will feel better in a week. I'm saying I would feel much more confident about this whole thing if he'd moved to Tibet to become a monk.
In the meantime: Will somebody please offer this man a job? Come on, I'm sure one of you loyal SI.com readers owns a television network or beer distributorship or -- ideally -- a fishing boat on another planet. We need to give Brett something to do.
This is not just about the effect on the Minnesota Vikings, Brad Childress' beard, or the 47 people who cover Favre, and only Favre, for ESPN. It is about this question:
Can we like this guy again?
Is it safe?
This is hard to believe now, but when Favre retired the first time -- an act that we can now refer to as a "dry run" -- he was arguably the most beloved athlete in the country. He played our most popular sport. He played for one team for almost his whole career -- the storied, middle-of-nowhere Packers. He never, ever missed a game. He had such a love for football that he played every game like it was his first -- the man actually laughed when he got drilled by a defensive end. We were willing to overlook his foolish interceptions and announcers' ridiculous justifications for his foolish interceptions, because he was so damn fun to watch. You could root for him without reservations.
And since that moment, he has been the opposite of everything we saw in him. He bounces from team to team. He seems to skip entire offseasons because he feels like it. He toys with franchises, his fans, everybody, and he seems to be up to his elbows in self-indulgence. Maybe this isn't all fair, but it's the picture we have of him.
Since the end of the 2007 season: Favre has more retirements (three) than the Detroit Lions have wins (two). We can try to justify them: the first time, he thought he was ready to walk away, and he wasn't. The second time, he didn't think he was healthy enough to play, but he was.
But this time? Well, if he comes back now, he'll just seem like a self-absorbed jerk. If he stays retired, though, there is still hope for his reputation. There is still a chance that, in a few years, people will remember him as a Packer instead of a waffler.
All he has to do is stay retired. Then he can give an interview in which he says "Hey, I didn't handle that whole retirement thing well, it's my fault, and I'm sorry." I hope he says that someday, and I hope he does it at a good time, and the eve of one of this year's Packers-Vikings games is definitely NOT a good time.
From the time he became a starter, Favre never missed a game. For years, we looked forward to watching him play. I hope he realizes, right now, how much we want to watch him sit.