Wednesday, January 27, 2010

War Horse

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 24:  Brett Favre #4 of  ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
Fall seven times, stand up eight.  ~Japanese Proverb

There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth in Minnesota this week (and to be truthful, in my own home as well)... a lot of arm-chair quarterbacking and "what-if's?"... after our Minnesota Vikings lost the NFC Championship game to the New Orleans Saints in overtime on Sunday. 

I am not an expert in regard to the game of football.  My experience consists of performing on the field at halftime with the rest of my high school marching band, of watching my future husband play football for his own small-town high school team (waaaay back in the day), and of following the Minnesota Vikings and the NDSU Bison with varied levels of interest and passion over the years.  And of course, we watch the Super Bowl.

My husband and I have watched every Super Bowl game together for the past 22 years.  We've watched from every home we've ever lived in... from college dorms, from restaurants, from an ocean-side tiki bar on Maui.  We've watched while rocking babies and while in the midst of home renovations and... well, you get the point.  And every single year, we've said, "Wouldn't it be great to someday see the Vikings in the Super Bowl?"

This year, we thought just maybe that long-held hope would manifest.  When Brett Favre signed with the Vikings in August we rejoiced, knowing that even if our team didn't get to the big game, it would be a helluva season to watch.

And oh, was it ever!  I watched much more football this season than in recent years, and enjoyed it immensely... it's great to be rooting for a winning team, after all.  When our Vikes scored a touchdown or forced a turnover, we would knuckle-bump, whoop and holler and high-five and dance around, scaring our children and causing the dogs to bark in alarm.

It was... FUN.  Great entertainment.  Something to look forward to every week.  Something to talk about at the dinner table and the in the grocery line.  It was really great while it lasted.

And Sunday's game will stick with me for a long time. Not the loss... while disappointing, it is still a game... but rather the images I took away from it.  Brett Favre, in my opinion, is a hero regardless of the final score.  To watch such a consummate professional at work, so passionate about and skilled in the game, was pure joy all season long.  Particularly so on Sunday, however.  What I will remember about that game, and about Brett Favre, is not the final score nor the mistakes that led to it.  What will stick with me always was the manner in which he just kept fighting.

Forgive the analogy, but that battle-hardened war-horse just kept getting up, no matter how hard he was hit, nor now many times.  He would limp off the field, get patched up, and then head back into battle, tougher and more determined than most players half his age.  The sight of it, as well as the camera shots of his wife sitting in the stands with concern written all over her face, nearly tore my heart out.  But it reminded me of the value of tenacity, of honor, of passion and determination.  I wish I could play a montage of those hits and Favre getting back up again after each and every one, for every school-age kid in America.  I wish I could tell them, "Brett Favre didn't get to be a legend, a hero, a record breaker and a multi-millionaire just because he's got some talent and had a lucky break or two.  He got there because he believed in himself, and picked his butt up off the turf, time and time again.  He got there because he prepared and he practiced... at times throwing the football thousands of times a day. He got there because he worked harder than anyone else, and dreamed bigger than anyone else, and took risks few others were willing to take, sometimes in the face of ridicule.  He got there because of his determination and the content of his character."

It still has not been announced whether or not Favre will play another year with the Vikings, but I truly hope he rests, heals and does make the decision to come back.  In any case, Favre's time spent with Minnesota was a gift to those of us who watched this season, and one I will remember fondly.

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