Steamboat Springs On a recent Saturday night, I found myself cheering for the New York Giants in the hopes that they would defeat the reigning champion New England Patriots and end their quest for a 16-0 season. Afterward, I had to ask myself why I was hoping for a Patriots loss. After all, they are possible Super Bowl winners this year and are a very impressive team.
Other than the fact that I like to cheer for underdogs, I realized that a football team has a spirit and a soul. And the quarterback is the one that sets the tone for the image that a winning team projects.
My 6- and 8-year-old grandsons Ryan and Patrick have role models. They often look up to star athletes. They like nothing better than to watch Sunday afternoon games together, footballs tucked under their arms. Naturally, since they live in Wisconsin, they are Green Bay Packers fans, complete with green and gold No. 4 jerseys. But they do have other heroes, and despite his fame, I have never heard them mention Tom Brady.
As their grandmother, I too am a proud Cheesehead. We put our faith in a man who has led our team to two Super Bowls, is the only three-time MVP in the NFL, and who just happens to be the star quarterback of the team: Brett Favre. His young teammates put their trust in him, too. They want to live up to Brett's expectations for them individually and for the team as well. His receivers often say that when one of his bullet passes come their way, they feel obligated to catch it no matter what!
The word that comes to mind when I think about Brett is humility. He has not changed from the scrappy young kid who played football with his brothers and father, Irvin, in the "back 40" of his rural home in Kiln, Miss. He wasn't coddled or pampered when he hurt himself. But more important, he was raised with an ethic that would stay with him throughout his life: Play hard, be part of the team, have fun.
Today, he embodies all of these values and more. His life has not been without hardship. He lost his beloved father to a heart attack, and he has fought and conquered an addiction to pain killers. Many of us would struggle with modesty if we had won as many awards as Brett has during his exciting career. A nine-time Pro Bowl attendee, Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year in 2007, the player having the most passing touchdowns of all time, and the player having the most consecutive starts in the NFL, to name a few.
But he takes his fame in stride and he remains, at heart, a family man. Married to Deanna, he has two young daughters to whom he is devoted. And when Deanna was diagnosed with cancer, he was there at her side during the whole ordeal. He even shaved his head when she lost her hair. Ultimately, he planned to end his career if she needed him. Lucky for all of us fans, he didn't have to do that. And fortunately, Deanna is now cancer free and, in keeping with the Favre family tradition of helping others, she is an avid spokesperson for cancer prevention.
One wonders what the legendary Packer coach Vince Lombardi would have had to say about an East Coast QB who leaves his longtime pregnant girlfriend for a Hollywood model. Lombardi was a deeply devout man who made his players go to Mass before games. And what would he think of Brett Favre today? I can see that famous grin on his face right now.
Mary K. Allen lives in Steamboat Springs and Mequon, Wis. She is a long-time conservative activist and enjoys working in the campaigns of conservative candidates and attending functions by the Leadership Program of the Rockies. Mary is a director of the Conservative Leadership Council of Northwest Colorado.