With all of this Brett Favre nonsense going on, it makes me appreciate being from Pittsburgh and being a part of the strong tradition and heritage of this city.
The most iconic athlete to ever play in Pittsburgh, in my mind, is Mario Lemieux. He was the most consistently great athlete for the longest period of time in the history of all of Pittsburgh’s sports teams.
Also, he has done more for sports in the city than anyone else. Lemieux has saved the Penguins repeatedly, and most recently assured that hockey will stay in Pittsburgh for the long term. None of this can be said for anyone else.
Art and Dan Rooney have done a great job for the Steelers, and have made a huge impact. There’s no doubting that the Steelers are the first thing everyone thinks about when Pittsburgh is mentioned.
The two have combined to build a franchise that is iconic in football lore. No team has more championships, nor can any team match the dedicated fans of the black and gold.
With all that being said, they have not dealt with the struggles Lemieux has.
Lemiuex not only battled an ailing back and Hodgkin’s Disease, but he also battled the politicians of the state of Pennsylvania. He overcame empty verbal commitments and promises to finally lock in an arena deal and save hockey in Pittsburgh.
What a genius. He never gave up, and will now benefit from the arena and a sellout streak with no end in sight.
The reason Brett Favre reminded me of all of this is because he was a Mario Lemieux-like figure in my mind. That is until he decided he wanted to come back weeks away from the start of training camp.
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers were finally able to move on and start a new era for the franchise. I’m sure it took Packer nation a long time to cope with Favre leaving, but they did and everything was set.
Then the aged veteran decided he was not done. And that he wanted to return. And that he wanted to be ‘the guy’ again. And that everyone should prepare for the opposite of what they had finally prepared themselves for. It’s not the way this legend should end his career with the National Football League and the Packers.
He wants to protect his legacy. If he leaves, his legacy will never be the same. His legacy has been a team player with the right mindset. His new-found attitude reminds me more of Terrell Owens.
Look at how Lemieux handled his final comeback.
Mario came back without a ‘C’ or ‘A’ on his sweater. He let the team remain how it was. He saw it as earning his spot back. Jaromir Jagr remained the captain, and everything was harmonious.
Why can’t Favre do the same? Why can’t he hold the clipboard and wait for his chance to get back in the game?
Favre’s actions are that of a premadonna. Kind of like an Alexander Radulov, if you will.
It’s the mentality – “Well if I can’t be the center of attention, I’m leaving!”
That is not the mark of a super star. Nor is it the mark of the face of a sport.
Sidney Crosby welcomes higher contracts for his teammates than the $8.7 million he is earning. He does what is best for the team.
Lemieux did the same, taking a lower paycheck to help the team stay afloat.
If Favre is a class-act, as I once thought he was, he will stay with the franchise that made him a legend. He will wait for that chance to play (considering the chances of Rodgers tripping over himself are quite high). And when he gets that opportunity, he will win and make no remarks regarding the whole situation we are witnessing right now.
This will not happen though, because there are very few Lemieux-like athletes out there.
Feel proud that you are from Pittsburgh. Feel proud that the Rooneys value merit over talent (though they are going through their own tiff right now).
And most of all, when you attend a game at the new arena, think about how great of a player and person Mario Lemieux was/is. And know that the team and environment is his doing.
Also, when you watch Favre take the field in a Minnesota Vikings or Chicago Bears jersey, realize that this is another moment of athletes not knowing when to call it quits.
Do you remember Johnny Unitas as a San Diego Charger? No. And no one will remember Favre’s final season unless it is with the Packers.
I don’t mean to preach, but it needed to be said.