Author: Chad

Saving No Country For The Band of Brothers

I just noticed this:

They all have basically the same design. I love all three of these films so I don’t really care, but I just thought it was curious.

Great Scott And Last ‘Lost’

Somehow I’m not surprised by this bit of news. At least McClellan is willing to admit he was wrong about something.

In other, happier news: Lost finale tomorrow! I have high hopes for another mind-blower. Don’t let me down, writers. The finale of The Office was uninspiring, so give me something to love on TV again.

Also, I went to see Barbara Walters tonight. She is promoting her new book. It was awesome.

The Things They Carried

“A true war story is never moral,” writes Tim O’Brien in his book The Things They Carried. Indeed, if there ever was a hard lesson learned by the United States, its citizens and, most importantly, the soldiers during the Vietnam War, it was that war was without morals, no matter how Hollywood depicted it. The stories that came out of the war, therefore, could teach no uplifting lesson nor create heroes without being a complete farce.

O’Brien’s collection of short stories about his war experience that became The Things They Carried has no unifying purpose, no gallant protagonist, and no respect for the fall-back traits of a ‘war novel’; he simply tells his story as he knew it. Whether his stories of war and its aftermath are factual realities makes no difference. But when thinking about what effects the Vietnam War had on its veterans after they returned home, one must first understand how it affected them even before they arrived in the dense, sweaty jungles of Vietnam.

To the millions of young American men in the late 1960s, a draft notice seemed imminent. Some readily accepted their conscription as a patriotic duty; others vocally and violently protested it. But all of them—the doves and hawks alike—feared it in some way. The teenage Tim O’Brien was no different. However, in his youth and naïveté, believed that “if the stakes ever became high enough… [he] would simply tap a secret reservoir of courage that had been accumulating inside [him] over the years…in preparation for that day when the [courage] account must be drawn down.” It is a common belief among young men, which for O’Brien, sadly, did not hold up.

In the chapter “On the Rainy River,” O’Brien describes in fascinating detail the deepest and darkest secret he had kept completely to himself until he wrote it down. He received his draft notice in the summer of 1968, during the height of the Tet Offensive, and was thrown into a moral and psychological whirlwind; should he flee to Canada or resign to his conscription? “It was a kind of schizophrenia. A moral split. I couldn’t make up my mind. I feared the war, yes, but I also feared exile.” Already, before he had picked up a gun and shot at another human being, he was at war with himself.

He lists off every reason why he thinks he shouldn’t have to go to war: he was too smart, too compassionate; he hated camping out and the sight of blood. Though, in reality, the secret account of courage he thought he had was short on funds. This becomes evident when he decides to bolt for the border, eventually making it to a small motel in the wilderness directly across a lake from Canada. He stays there for nearly a week with the innkeeper, stuck in his very own purgatory.

He gets the chance to jump from a boat and swim to the Canadian shore, to live a life of physical freedom but moral handicap. But he can’t do it. “[It was] a moral freeze. I couldn’t decide, I couldn’t act, I couldn’t comport myself with even a pretense of modest human dignity.” He tries to force himself to jump, but the thought of embarrassment overtakes him. He would go to war.

O’Brien acknowledges up front that he waited so long to tell this story simply because of the embarrassment of not being able to act heroically when it mattered. It was a coming-of-age moment in his life, which reflected the same process the country would go through during its decade long engagement with Vietnam. The classic heroics and sturdy platitudes of World War II—that America was inherently good and right and honorable—faltered because of Vietnam. O’Brien’s personal crisis, a crisis of moral confliction rather than simple cowardice, embodied every other fighting man’s.

The Things They Carried could be considered a post-modern novel. There is not one main character that the reader follows throughout the book, nor a single narrative arc that connects each character and each plot point, and no chapter is necessarily dependent on another. It is important to consider this style of writing because the way O’Brien chooses to write about Vietnam reveals how he values and what he feels about his Vietnam experience.

Writing about his pre-war life, O’Brien stays more or less on a clear, singular path. But when he describes the war itself, the writing structure becomes disjointed, like fragments of memory mashed together. In this way, the content informs the structure. His pre-war days were smooth and straight. Then, he enters Vietnam, and his life’s structure and path are blown off course. Once he leaves Vietnam and continues his life, things slow down and take form again, but not without bumps in the road.

With that idea in mind, the stories from the war zone make more sense. Everything O’Brien knew as an ordinary young man was scrambled in with the chaos of Vietnam. The personal crisis he fought through before he became a soldier was nothing compared to the deeper dilemmas that soldiers experience. He describes his reaction to killing a man: “I did not hate the young man; I did not see him as the enemy; I did not ponder issues of morality or politics or military duty.” He didn’t weep softly or have a nervous breakdown after killing the man; he wasn’t so mentally disturbed that he couldn’t function as a soldier; he simply slips into a vast, unquantifiable gray area.

Within this gray area, what really happens becomes jumbled with what seems to happen. This is why, O’Brien explains, war stories should never be trusted with the truth. “The angles of vision are skewed…there is always that surreal seemingness, which makes the story seem untrue, but which in fact represents the hard and exact truth as it seemed.” Because of this dichotomy, O’Brien admits to a loss of firm, absolute truth in war stories and, consequently, the war itself: “Right spills over into wrong. Order blends into chaos, love into hate…and the only certainty is overwhelming ambiguity.”

The veterans carried this feeling with them from the swamps of Vietnam all the way back home to America. This disillusionment with the old ways—the eternal truths taken for granted—defined the era. The lives the soldiers lived before the war, before their draft notices, was black-and-white, but no more. The overwhelming ambiguity of war became the controlled chaos of civilian life. O’Brien writes about Norman Bowker, his comrade in the war, who returned home and found that his life had no particular purpose. Bowker drove aimlessly around a lake as if he was caught on a broken record. He was idling, literally and figuratively, between his former life as a soldier and his uncertain future. He wrote O’Brien to describe the feeling: “[T]here’s no place to go… My life, I mean. It’s almost like I got killed over in Nam.” Whatever part of him Bowker felt was killed in Vietnam was soon joined with the rest of him; he hanged himself a few years after returning home.

O’Brien had a different post-war experience. He wasn’t driven to suicide, but the over-whelming ambiguity he described stayed with him. When he returned to Vietnam with his daughter about twenty years after the war, he visited the place where his best friend Kiowa died —the one event that haunted him and that he blamed himself for. He waded into a lake and dropped Kiowa’s moccasins in the place he thought was where Kiowa died. He was trying to find some sort of emotional solace, and found it: “In a way, maybe, I’d gone under with Kiowa, and now after two decades I’d finally worked my way out.” O’Brien found the peace Norman Bowker and many other Vietnam veterans could not find.

The pre- and post-war experience of Vietnam veterans like Tim O’Brien and Norman Bowker were intrinsically linked by the war itself. Like a magnet, Vietnam pulled those young men away from their home, willingly or not, to battle; likewise, Vietnam in the theoretical—the lifelong physical and mental battle scars—kept its unbending and unseen hold on the young men as they returned home. They, along with the rest of the country, would not be able to shake off the uneasiness of the times. Everyone from the shores of Maine to the streets of Los Angeles, in a way, carried the same weight O’Brien and Bowker and countless other veterans carried through the “ghostly fog, thick and permanent” that was Vietnam.

Lost Vs. The Office

It seems like after the writers’ strike-induced hiatus, LOST got a whole lot better and The Office got a whole lot worse.

LOST‘s entire 4th season has been, overall, pretty fantastic. They’ve taken a new yet exciting direction with the implementation of flash-forwards and they now have an end date for the series, so they’re able to write towards that finale with some confidence.

The Office, on the other hand, has lost something. The first half of the season, before the strike, was strong and moved the story along well enough and remained consistently funny, with both their trademark painful awkwardness and crazy hysterics from Michael or Dwight.

After the strike, nothing was that funny. Most of the story lines became borderline depressing and staid. The Jim/Pam arc was going okay even though they were together, yet in recent episodes, I keep expecting Jim to propose and every he doesn’t take the chance, the excitement for their relationship wanes a little more.

There are little moments that are funny; mostly the Jim/Dwight pranks, but that is quickly becoming a tired element of the show. It can’t produce all of the laughs. I realize and respect the need for drama in a comedy. I think it makes The Office a more mature sitcom if it can handle darker material. But recently, it hasn’t been doing that well.

The finale failed to inspire any more confidence. While I recognize the need to set-up the stories for next season — Dwight and Angela still going hot ‘n’ heavy, Jim and Pam still unable to seal the deal, Michael and Jan still trapped in a horribly destructive relationship — I didn’t laugh once during the finale. There were a few smiles and an occasional half-hearted chuckle, but that’s it.

Maybe I’ll watch it again and give it another chance, but as of right now, I’m not pining for the return of The Office. On the other hand, Lost has betwixt me heart and soul and I have to resign to the fact that us Losties have to wait another millennium for a new season. That is, of course, if the Screen Actors Guild doesn’t go on strike and ruin another TV season. I could care less about any other show; just let The Office and Lost live.

Iron Man

I think us moviegoers have caught on to the whole Superhero Movie thing. We’ve learned that comic book superheroes are born out of a freak radioactive experiment gone wrong, or out of childhood anger, yadda yadda yadda. We know that evil villains will eventually be outsmarted and killed due to excessive monologuing. We’ve caught on to the formula, which is why the summer Superhero Movie blockbuster was in danger of extinction.

Was. Was in danger of extinction. Thanks to Iron Man, the Superhero Movie has returned to glory. And I say, welcome back.

Robert Downey Jr. plays the billionaire engineer, genius, and playboy Tony Stark who runs Stark Industries, a weapons manufacturer and military contractor. After a demonstration of his highly destructive state-of-the-art missile called the “Jericho”, Stark is attacked and captured by terrorists in Afghanistan. He gets hit with shrapnel in the attack, but avoids death by creating a device that keeps the shrapnel away from his heart using electro-magnetics.

Stark’s captors force him to build a new Jericho missile inside a cave completely from scratch, but he instead builds an armored iron suit equipped with guns and missiles a plenty and escapes his captivity. But after seeing his own company’s weapons being used by the enemy against American forces, Stark returns home with a new mindset. He decides to no longer manufacture weapons. This moral transformation is the key to the entire film.

Stark secretly rebuilds the armored iron suit he created with new hi-tech features, intent on using it to destroy the enemy forces from which he escaped and the weapons they were using. The scenes where Stark perfects the design are full of slapstick and wit between Stark and his robotic lab assistants. The final product, the Iron Man, looks something like the Tin Man from the year 3000, outfitted with hyper-intelligent technology and a slick paint job.

Stark’s conversion from being a cocky showboat to a morally-conflicted superhero is what makes these kinds of films interesting to watch. He is tremendously flawed, even with his intelligence, but we still like him and want him to succeed.

Only a few people close to Stark see the transformation: his assistant Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow), who tries to balance her strong independence and her increasing attraction to Stark; his business partner Obadiah (Jeff Bridges), who tries to hide shady business deals from the newly-idealistic Stark; and Rhodes, Stark’s Air Force Colonel friend who is wary of Stark’s new crime-fighting methods.

Ultimately, Robert Downey Jr. is this movie. He’s funny, quirky, and a terrific actor. He’s also a unique casting choice for a superhero, which is why the film works so well. His troubled real-life back story helps his character seem all the more real. Story-wise, Iron Man isn’t revolutionary, but that doesn’t really matter. The characters are strong and relatable, so the story simply falls into place around them.

Downey and the director Jon Favreau, who also directed Elf and Zathura, allow the film to stretch beyond the normal guidelines of the typical summer action movie. There are the usual high-octane action sequences, of course, but the talented supporting cast makes each character vital and interesting. The last superhero film to accomplish that was Batman Begins.

I’ve already heard Oscar buzz for this film, and rightly so. I would fully endorse a Best Actor nomination for Downey. The Academy has snubbed summer superhero movies in the past, and for good reason. They are produced solely to make a profit, so sometimes a quality cast and story are lost between the ridiculous special effects sequences. But not with this film. I was fully engaged with Stark’s moral debate, but I also thoroughly enjoyed Stark-as-Iron Man battling his nemesis at Mach-speed in the Los Angeles night sky.

Iron Man is just about the best movie to kick off the summer season. After last year’s lackluster threequels failed to inspire, Downey and Co. have given us something to fully enjoy without sacrificing the crucial elements that make a good film. Two sequels have already been planned—the first is set to release on April 30, 2010—so it looks like we’ll be seeing much more of Stark and Iron Man. And I say, bring it on.

Knife To Meet You

True story from NPR:

Julio Diaz has a daily routine. Every night, the 31-year-old social worker ends his hour-long subway commute to the Bronx one stop early, just so he can eat at his favorite diner.

But one night last month, as Diaz stepped off the No. 6 train and onto a nearly empty platform, his evening took an unexpected turn.

He was walking toward the stairs when a teenage boy approached and pulled out a knife.

“He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, ‘Here you go,'” Diaz says.

As the teen began to walk away, Diaz told him, “Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you’re going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm.”

The would-be robber looked at his would-be victim, “like what’s going on here?” Diaz says. “He asked me, ‘Why are you doing this?'”

Diaz replied: “If you’re willing to risk your freedom for a few dollars, then I guess you must really need the money. I mean, all I wanted to do was get dinner and if you really want to join me … hey, you’re more than welcome.

“You know, I just felt maybe he really needs help,” Diaz says.

Diaz says he and the teen went into the diner and sat in a booth.

“The manager comes by, the dishwashers come by, the waiters come by to say hi,” Diaz says. “The kid was like, ‘You know everybody here. Do you own this place?'”

“No, I just eat here a lot,” Diaz says he told the teen. “He says, ‘But you’re even nice to the dishwasher.'”

Diaz replied, “Well, haven’t you been taught you should be nice to everybody?”

“Yea, but I didn’t think people actually behaved that way,” the teen said.

Diaz asked him what he wanted out of life. “He just had almost a sad face,” Diaz says.

The teen couldn’t answer Diaz — or he didn’t want to.

When the bill arrived, Diaz told the teen, “Look, I guess you’re going to have to pay for this bill ’cause you have my money and I can’t pay for this. So if you give me my wallet back, I’ll gladly treat you.”

The teen “didn’t even think about it” and returned the wallet, Diaz says. “I gave him $20 … I figure maybe it’ll help him. I don’t know.”

Diaz says he asked for something in return — the teen’s knife — “and he gave it to me.”

Afterward, when Diaz told his mother what happened, she said, “You’re the type of kid that if someone asked you for the time, you gave them your watch.”

“I figure, you know, if you treat people right, you can only hope that they treat you right. It’s as simple as it gets in this complicated world.”

This! Is!…

Jeopardy!

Tim rocked my world and nabbed some killer free tickets to the final night of the Jeopardy taping at the Kohl Center in Madison. It was the final two tapings of the College Tournament of Champions, episodes that will air May 15 and 16. Here’s what I learned:

– Alex Trebek answers attendees’ questions during the commercial time. He has the same persona on screen and off.

– If Alex screws up reading an answer, like mispronouncing a name, they rerecord him reading it during the commercial and replace the flub with the rerecording. The answer that has Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is a rerecording.

– I know who wins the tournament but I won’t tell.

– The final Final Jeopardy we will see on TV was not the original. One of the contestants did something disruptive as Alex revealed the final money totals, so after they finished they rerecorded the revealing of the Final Jeopardy answers. It was madness.

– It was so weird to see Alex do the things I’ve seen him do on TV so many times.

– If what was shown on the big screen as they taped the show is the final product, I will be on TV twice; once each episode. On May 15, I’m in the bottom left corner of the screen for a few seconds. On May 16, I’m  on for much longer, making strange movements and cheering. We were right in front of the UW band, so look for them and you’ll see me. I’m in a gray t-shirt.

Jeopardy is awesome.

Macho, Macho Men: Vulnerability In ‘Casino Royale’ And ‘The Bourne Identity’

Originally published in the North Central Chronicle on April 25, 2008.

John McClane, Rambo, the Terminator. They are the American Action Hero: muscular, terse, a killing machine. They favor spouting clever catchphrases and blowing stuff up over expressing emotion. To them, women are hors d’oeuvres best enjoyed while they serve cold dishes of revenge to bad guys. In recent years, Hollywood has deconstructed this action hero archetype and rebuilt it into the more complicated and affected man.

Two such characters, Jason Bourne in The Bourne Identity (2002) and James Bond in Casino Royale (2006), inhabit the stereotypical macho man role but confront emotional walls typical in males and discover the pain that can come with true vulnerability. These men, however, are not just movie characters. They share the same struggle with identity and masculinity with males in the real world.

The James Bond movie lovers have come to know is a suave, martini-drinking womanizer who effortlessly shoots bad guys and jets around in sports cars. But the Bond in Casino Royaleis different. He’s still rough around the edges, an arrogant thug who cannot control his emotions or his actions. When he meets Vesper Lynd, the ravishing femme fatale, she sees through him easily: “You think of women as disposable pleasures, rather than meaningful pursuits,” she says.

After Bond realizes his transparency, he treats Lynd as a meaningful pursuit rather than a disposable pleasure. He begins to trust her. Eventually, he gives in to her. “I have no armor left. You’ve stripped it from me. Whatever is left of me, whatever I am, I’m yours,” says Bond. He finally drops his emotional armor and allows a woman in, becoming vulnerable for the first time.

But his vulnerability did not serve him well. He learns that she was using him all along for money. The one person for whom he opened his heart carves it up, so he closes it again and takes up the armor. “You don’t trust anyone, do you?” asks his boss. “No,” he says. “Then you’ve learned your lesson,” she replies.

Jason Bourne fights a different battle. When we first meet him he floats unconscious on the ocean with bullets in his back and a tracking device in his hip. When he comes to, he doesn’t know who he is or remember anything until that point, but does know several languages and hand-to-hand combat. He slowly learns that he is a killing machine that only functions because it cannot do anything else.

Then he meets a woman. She drives him on his journey to self-discovery, first by payment, then on her own accord. She helps him as he follows his animalistic instincts to find his identity and his purpose. Bourne finds the man who knows the answers and he tells Bourne the truth: “I don’t send you to kill. I send you to be invisible. I send you because you don’t exist.” After a death-defying search, he finds out that he is only a shell of a man, a blunt instrument of death.

Bourne’s confrontation with the mysterious man triggers a flashback to right before he was found floating in the ocean. He was ordered to assassinate a dictator but couldn’t pull the trigger because the target’s children were lying next to him. The one time compassion creeps into his heart, he is shot in the back and left for dead in the open sea. That is quite a lesson to learn.

Bond and Bourne experience the same challenges to their masculinity, yet they end up in different places. Bond starts as an emotionless brute, becomes softened by a woman, then is betrayed by said woman and shuts himself off from emotion again. Bourne goes through the same process, except at the end he remains open to Marie and at peace with his existence.

Through both stories run two constants: women and killing. These constants represent two big fears that men have: that if he opens himself up to a woman, she will rip his heart out; and that if he doesn’t fulfill the male stereotype of being tough and emotionless, he will be thought of as less than a man. Not necessarily by women, but by their fellow man.

These fears, at their full effect, can cripple a man’s masculinity and trust in women. They turn them into chauvinistic playboys, forever caught in a perpetual state of arrested development. They are the reason why so many single women claim that ‘there are no more decent guys’—they’ve been taken captive by the fear of being vulnerable.

James Bond and Jason Bourne may be fictional characters, but they have the same dilemma as real men. Not all men are lost causes, however. In fact, none really are. Modern males have a simple choice: remain shadows of men destined for empty relationships and guarded hearts, or fight the temptation to run from intimacy.

Favre’s Retirement Ends Golden Age Of Quarterbacks

Published in the North Central Chronicle on March 28, 2008.

February 3, 1997. My first Super Bowl. It was so exciting; the first game I remember seeing on television and my team was playing. It was my Green Bay Packers. And it was my Brett Favre.

My family hosted the party. I was decked out in my No. 4 jersey and brand new Cheesehead as I watched Favre throw touchdown after touchdown against the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI. He even managed a rare quarterback sneak for a score. He helped bring the Lombardi Trophy back where it belongs to Lombardi’s home sweet home; the legendary Lambeau Field. I felt so proud that the Packers were my team and that Brett Favre was my quarterback.

Unfortunately, as every football fan knows, good times like these never last long. Injury, free agency, or retirement always snatches our heroes away from us. Sometimes they make their exit after a tragic injury in the twilight of their career or after a triumphant Super Bowl victory. Brett Favre did neither; he left on his own terms.

My dad called me to tell me the news. “Favre retired.” I should have been somewhat prepared for this; sports writers and non-Packer fans have been calling for his retirement for years, but I was shocked. I felt empty. I have not known life without Brett Favre as the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers.

I spent the next couple of days disheartened. I watched every highlight reel I could find of his top plays and memorable moments. I even got teary with him as he formally announced his retirement (not kidding). I pushed through all of the stages of grief, albeit superficially. I probably won’t reach full acceptance until the season opener when, for the first time in my memory, Brett Favre will not be there to take the snap.

I know this all seems melodramatic. After all, football is just a game and Favre is just a man. But I grew up with a legendary quarterback who started every game and made big plays when they mattered. I realize now how special and rare it is to have such a gift. I’ve never had to constantly shift my trust to the next fifth-round draft pick who would just let me down again. I’ve been able to turn on the television on Sundays during football season and know that, win or lose, the Packers would be okay.

I felt that way because Favre was more than a quarterback. He was the anchor and the image of the Packers organization and of the entire state of Wisconsin. Politicians cycled in and out while Favre kept driving down the Frozen Tundra looking for a score. But even more than that; he was a constant in my life in which I could find solace and inspiration as I trekked through the rockiness of childhood and adolescence. I felt safe knowing that Favre would remain, no matter how good or bad the Packers performed.

What Favre brought to the game was his playground antics, his improvisational skills, his grit, and his pure joy for the game. He was no cookie cutter quarterback. Even Vikings and Bears fans, the Packers’ true nemeses, fell victim of his charm every time he flashed that toothy grin after making a ridiculous play. He threw off of his heels constantly and scrambled in the pocket like a decapitated chicken. He threw the most touchdowns as well as the most interceptions. He was a true gunslinger, a rugged man’s man; the John Wayne of the gridiron.

Still, as hard as it is for me to say, it was a good time for him to go. He broke nearly every major NFL record a quarterback can break and had fun doing it. Even though he didn’t get the second Super Bowl win he wanted, he is leaving on top after arguably the best year of his career, Super Bowl ring or not. (I’m planning on repressing the memory of his last pass; an interception that cost a Super Bowl bid.)

With Favre hanging up his cleats, a golden age of quarterbacks has ended. Steve Young, Dan Marino, John Elway, Troy Aikman, and Brett Favre all epitomized what was great about football and the everyday heroes it can give us. The Tom Bradys and Peyton Mannings are talented of course, but they don’t have the spark that made Favre football fun to watch.

Outside of the realm of football, Favre is leaving behind a legacy decorated with not just wins and losses, but also the fond memories of a scrawny redhead who loved to run routes with his dad and imagine he was catching the winning pass in Lambeau Field from one of the game’s greats. That is a bond that time cannot erode.

The march to football season is going to be strange for me and my fellow Packers fans. We will be out of step for the first time in a long time. The sparkle we’ve grown to know and love has faded from the Packers franchise and from the NFL. But once we move on, we’ll be able to get back to beating the Bears and winning the Super Bowl. It is what Favre would have wanted.

On Brett Favre’s Retirement

My first memory of Brett Favre was watching him win Super Bowl XXXI. My family hosted a huge party in our basement. I watched as he threw a long shot down the middle on an audible to Andre Rison for the first score, then to Antonio Freeman down the right sideline for a score. I saw him dive into the near left corner of the endzone for a touchdown. And I saw him thrust his helmet into the air in celebration with that bright smile on.

Brett has been with me since that time. I’ve watched him win a Super Bowl, then lose one, then go into the deepest of ruts. I watched him battle back to the playoffs–making heroic last-second plays to win, and tragic mistakes to lose. He was a gunslinger. No apologies. The plays he made were impossibly reckless, yet he still made them.

He loved to play. Everyone knew this. He got into the habit of hoisting his receivers in the air after they caught another one of his zingers for a score. Every time he attempted a run or made a block, we couldn’t help but laugh, then make sure he was okay. Of all of the records he recently broke, none is as special to Brett as the consecutive games started. As a quarterback, the player that gets hit the most and hardest, he managed to take the hits and keep on ticking. Even when he did get injured, he was back the next week lobbing Hail Marys and tossing the ball underhanded.

He was so close last year to getting back to the Super Bowl. But he was right when he said that it is much worse to get to the Super Bowl and lose than to not get there at all. That’s why I figured he was coming back this year–the team is so talented and motivated to win. But it will never be. He won’t get to add another ring to his fingers.

He’s still a Super Bowl winner, a Pro Bowler, a record holder, a 3-time MVP, and a favorite among fans–even Bears’ fans.

A part of me is leaving with Brett. I mean that sincerely. He’s the kind of icon that inspires kids to play sports and to have fun while they do it. I never went into football, but every time I play a pick up game with my friends, I call the play-by-play for him. Favre drops back, scrambles, evades another defender, sees Driver streaking down the sideline, zips a rocket downfield, Driver’s got it! Touchdown!

As much as it pains me to say, Brett needs to stay retired. He can’t pull a Michael Jordan and come back and play for a half-rate team just because the money is right or he feels better about playing. He will retire as a Packer and stay one forever. I don’t know how my fellow Packer fans will take this. Brett Favre is seriously is a huge part of my life, and that part is now gone. Sunday afternoons and Monday nights will never be the same.

I have faith in Aaron Rodgers, Mike McCarthy, and the entire team. Brett may have led them here, but they can finish it themselves. I have always been and will remain a Packer fan, though the spark that we Cheeseheads love seeing every fall is gone.

Thanks Brett. For the memories, for your dumbass plays, for your constant scrambling, for your enthusiasm, for supporting your family when they’ve supported you, and for giving football fans everywhere something to cherish forever.