A woman young enough to be carded was sitting in Applebee's down the street from Green Bay's Lambeau Field, where the Packers had just beaten Seattle 42-20 in an NFC divisional playoff game Saturday.
Three TVs near the bar were carrying highlights of the game. Everyone wore a big smile, except maybe the employee who was sequestered in the kitchen for telling a group of giddy patrons the Packers would lose to his beloved Cowboys in Dallas the following week. (Ouch.)
Suddenly, the TV screens shifted to a tight shot of Brett Favre in his postgame news conference. The face was still red from the late afternoon game/snowball fight. But the sideburns and most of the whiskers were gray, gray, gray.
"Geez," the young woman said. "He looks like he's 58."
Actually, Brett Favre acts like he's 8, throws like he's 18, plays like he's 28 and understands football like he's 68. But in reality, he was born Oct. 10, 1969, which makes him too young for those who feel the need to help him across the street or lay a blanket across his lap.
Favre is 38, just a few months younger than John Elway when he became the oldest starting quarterback in Super Bowl history. Elway was 38 years, 7 months and 4 days when he won Super Bowl XXXIII MVP honors on Jan. 31, 1999. Favre would be the second oldest at 38 years, 3 months, 25 days if the Packers beat the Giants in Sunday's NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field and advance to Super Bowl XLII on Feb. 3.
Elway walked away from the game after Super Bowl XXXIII, capping a 16-year career with back-to-back titles. Here's hoping Favre doesn't do the same, regardless of what happens on Sunday or Feb. 3.
"I haven't decided what I'll do next year," Favre said Saturday when asked about a report in his hometown paper, the Biloxi (Miss.) Sun Herald, that he was leaning toward coming back for an 18th season. "If you read the article, I don't think there was anything in there that said, 'Hey, I'm going to come back.' What I said was I wanted to continue this playoff run and not just be content with this game."
Favre is at least partly to blame for the never-ending speculation about his future. For starters, when people ask him questions, he answers them. He doesn't snap, dodge or pass out clichés.
Secondly, Favre doesn't fit the mold of anyone who has ever come before him. The great ones just aren't supposed to be this good this long.
Joe Namath's knees were long shot and retired by now. Joe Montana had suffered multiple injuries by the time he walked away at 38. And let's all try to forget how weak Johnny U looked wearing a Chargers uniform at the end of his career.
Favre not only has started 274 consecutive games, including playoffs, he has failed to finish only six games because of injury. So he's healthy, he's a Pro Bowl player coming off one of his finest seasons, and, oh yeah, he's still having fun making plays that no one else makes.
One of them came with about a minute left in the first half against Seattle. With the Packers leading 21-17 and facing third-and-8 at the Seahawks 14, Favre appeared to be trapped in the backfield by rookie defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, who briefly had Favre by the jersey.
But Favre spun away to his right and was stumbling awkwardly as he tried to regain his balance.
"Oh, man, that looked bad," Favre said. "I'm sure watching, it looked slow and unathletic. I'm not quite as nimble as I once was."
Favre was being chased by another Seahawks defensive tackle, Craig Terrill, when he finally had enough balance to look up and see Green Bay tight end Donald Lee break open. Terrill was in the way of any traditional throw, so Favre simply flipped an underhanded spiral past him.
"I gave him the old usual underhand toss, which we practice all the time," Favre joked. "Boy, when those plays work, there's no one more excited in the building than me."
Lee gained 11 yards, setting up a touchdown and a 28-17 lead.
"Boy, what a backbreaker," Favre said. "If I'm Seattle, I'm looking at that and going, 'Gosh, what do we have to do?'"
How many of those classic moments does Favre have left? Who knows? But for at least one to three more weeks, let's just enjoy the show while trying not to guess when the great graybeard will leave us forever.