There have been times the past three years when a lesser player would have and seemingly should have quit. And that was my recommendation.
Your Packers were rebuilding and logic dictated that they groom a replacement, perhaps former first-round pick Aaron Rodgers, who should at least theoretically be the quarterback of the future.
This logic, though, violated an aphorism that should be inscribed in every Hat O' Cheddar: Don't rush the great ones out the door, because you might never see their kind again.
Remember when the Orioles moved Cal Ripken from short to third to make way for their hot young shortstop prospect? Remember the guy's name? You shouldn't. Ripken moved in favor of the immortal Manny Alexander. (Think Jason Bartlett, without his bat, glove and hustle.)
Remember who replaced Troy Aikman? Quincy Carter. Fran Tarkenton? Tommy Kramer. Dan Marino? Jay Fiedler. John Elway? Bubby Brister.
In 2005, your Packers finished 4-12. Samkon Gado was your top rusher. You guys finished 22nd in the NFL in points scored. Brett, you threw for 20 touchdowns and an incredible 29 interceptions. It was obviously time to retire.
You stuck around, though, and new coach Mike McCarthy set about improving your "efficiency." That was the coach's way of saying he didn't want to see his Hall of Fame quarterback making desperate, stupid plays.
Through 12 games last year, your Packers were 4-8. You had just lost 35-0 to the Patriots, 34-24 to the Seahawks and 38-10 to the Jets. In those three games, Brett, you threw two touchdown passes and five interceptions.
Obviously, you were done. I thought it was time to stick a utensil -- in deference to the cheeseheads, make it a fondue fork -- into the toughest, most daring and most error-prone great quarterback in league history.
And I was as wrongheaded as the phrase "Gopher Rose Bowl."
Your Packers have now won seven in a row. Sunday, in a victory over San Diego, you led your 38th fourth-quarter comeback victory, reached 150 victories as a starting quarterback and threw your 420th touchdown pass, tying Marino atop the all-time list.
This Sunday, you will make your 241st consecutive start, the most ever by a quarterback, and you will pass former Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff for second on the all-time list at all positions.
If you had retired when there seemed little hope for the Packers, little hope to end your career gallantly, we would have missed out on one of the most riveting players in league history setting records and keeping the quaintest franchise in the NFL relevant.
We would have missed out on you bringing all that drama and history to the Metrodome on Sunday, in the one game on the Vikings' schedule that matters regardless of record.
As records fall, your reputation rises, Brett, if that's possible. NFL analysts suddenly are listing you among the top five quarterbacks in NFL history.
What is more relevant this week is this: Nearing your 38th birthday, two years after almost playing yourself out of the league, you are once again the best quarterback in the division, once again the best reason to watch the NFL in the heartland.
Sincerely, Jim Souhan
Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon on AM-1500 KSTP. firstname.lastname@example.org
|Kansas City - LP: B. Chen||1||FINAL|
|Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber||5|
|Cincinnati - WP: T. Cingrani||2||FINAL|
|Pittsburgh - LP: B. Cumpton||1|
|Chicago WSox - LP: J. Quintana||4||FINAL|
|Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer||7|
|St. Louis - LP: L. Lynn||1||FINAL|
|NY Mets - WP: B. Colon||4|
|Minnesota - WP: R. Nolasco||9||FINAL|
|Tampa Bay - LP: E. Bedard||7|
|Arizona - WP: M. Bolsinger||5||FINAL|
|Chicago Cubs - LP: E. Jackson||2|
|San Diego - WP: A. Torres||4||FINAL|
|Washington - LP: C. Stammen||3|
|Baltimore - WP: B. Norris||11||FINAL|
|Toronto - LP: B. Cecil||4|
|NY Yankees - WP: C. Sabathia||14||FINAL|
|Boston - LP: F. Doubront||5|
|Oakland - WP: S. Kazmir||10||FINAL|
|Houston - LP: B. Oberholtzer||1|
|Philadelphia - WP: M. Adams||7||FINAL|
|Los Angeles - LP: B. Wilson||3|