Favre's end came 12 games too late

Vikings quarterback Brett Favre sits on the sidelines in a game against the Giants at Ford Field in...

Vikings quarterback Brett Favre sits on the sidelines in a game against the Giants at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan on December 13, 2010. (REBECCA COOK/Reuters)

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:25 AM ET

TORONTO - And, so it ended for the most iconic football player of this era; Brett Favre, standing on the sideline with a broken body and a broken dream.

When Tarvaris Jackson took the first snap Monday, it ended Favre’s streak of 297 consecutive games started through 20 seasons. And, while he may still make a cameo appearance in one of the team’s final, meaningless games, it for all intents marks the end of a 20-year career.

It is an end that came 12 games too late.

This season never should have happened. Favre will always be admired, as he should be. He will always be regarded as one of the greatest quarterbacks. But it would’ve been so much sweeter without this dreary exclamation point of a season that has done little but sully the heritage Favre will leave.

And, make no mistake, Favre’s legacy matters.

It matters to the NFL. It matters to his fans. But, mostly, it matters to Brett Favre. There are some athletes who simply know when to walk away. Barry Sanders knew. Roger Clemens never figured it out; still hasn’t. Sandy Koufax knew. Gordie Howe played most of a decade on guile and reputation. Steve Yzerman quit while he still had a leg to stand on. Favre refused to quit while he had a leg to stand on.

“At least I won’t look back and say, ‘I wonder if I played could we have done this or that.’ We know now,” Favre told reporters Monday after watching the Vikings dip to 5-8 with Jackson taking his place as he nursed a sore shoulder, a bum leg and a wonky elbow.

He’ll never admit this season was a mistake when he already had the perfect ending; taking the Vikings to the cusp of the Super Bowl last season would’ve been a seemly conclusion to his Hall of Fame career.

Instead he came back for his worst season, one that taints his reputation off the field and diminished his record on it.

His 69.6 passer rating is the worst of his career. This is just the third season he has had a losing record. He came back only after teammates pleaded with him and the owner was talked into padding his salary, making it all look less like a magnanimous act and more like a cash grab.

If he hadn’t returned chances are those supposedly lewd photos and e-mails Jenn Sterger accused him of sending, and the ones the NFL has been looking into with the persistence and endurance of a Peeping Tom, would never have shown up to tarnish Favre’s image.

In the end, it couldn’t end too soon for Favre. And, that’s more the pity.

Young & restless

Vince Young is no Warren Moon. So says Kevin Mawae, a former teammate of Young’s and now president of the NFLPA,

“As far as being the consummate pro like some of the other guys in the league, it’s disappointing that he hasn’t taken that step,” Mawae told ESPN.com.

“I played with Warren Moon, I played with Vinny Testaverde, I played with Kerry Collins, I played with Chad Pennington and the one thing all those guys had in common is that they were all field generals and leaders.”

Quick hits

Browns’ Colt McCoy (ankle) is “optimistic” he’ll return Sunday against Cincinnati ... After losing to Baltimore in overtime the Texans are the first team in NFL history to come back from 14 or more points and take the lead or tie a game only to lose four times in one season ... The Denver Post says Jim Fassel, who recently won the UFL championship, will be considered as the Broncos’ next head coach ... Persistent neck stingers have ended Titans’ centre Eugene Amano’s season.


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