I wasn’t going to comment on Brett Favre’s retirement speech — you know, the one in which he cried. I decided to after reading Laura Ingraham’s remarks on the situation:
“All these years and I didn’t know there was a woman quarterback in the NFL.”
“That’s a great message for young boys. Get up there and act like a girl.”
“At some point I thought the authorities were gonna come take him away.”
“It was a non-stop blubber fest.”
Melissa Clouthier also criticized Favre at her blog:
My feeling? “Get a hold of yourself, man!”
What did surprise me is that this manly man came undone during his press conference. What the hell? After his father died, he endured it with stoic grace and played anyway. And won, by the way. But his sobbing for himself at the press conference seemed narcissistic and out-of-proportion. He is retiring after playing a game. No one died. His child isn’t sick. There was no tragedy. His beloved, obviously, career ended on a high note. What more could a person want?
I liked it better when men kept a tight upper lip. Women, too. Queen Elizabeth II’s stoicism impresses me. I like that ilk of leader. Restrained, dignified, and intense in feeling but not expression. I just don’t want to see leaders cry; any leaders, male or female. I don’t want to see Hillary Clinton cry. I don’t want to see George W. Bush cry. I want to see people suck it up and soldier on with grace.
Tom Hanks said,”There’s no crying in baseball.” Well, there’s no crying in football either. It’s a sport. Man up!
I initially didn’t think much of it one way or the other, to be honest. I certainly empathized, and I completely understand why one might cry at such an emotional event. Favre’s been struggling with the decision to retire or not retire for years, and he finally did — he ended a long and illustrious career.
Now, let’s be realistic. I don’t think its OK for men to run around crying for no damn reason. Let’s not be ridiculous here. Just because I think it was OK for Brett Favre to cry in this one particular instance does not mean it’s OK for him to cry every time he’s feeling a little “emotional”. Men should be men; they shouldn’t cry all the time. But let’s look a little closer at the situation here. This is the video from the press conference:
Where in that press conference was Brett Favre crying like a little girl? NOWHERE. He got choked up. He said that he promised himself he wouldn’t get emotional. He did, and he tried very hard to contain himself. Where is the blubbering that Laura Ingraham was criticizing him for? When was he not sucking it up? He got choked up, and very obviously tried very hard to contain himself. It wasn’t like he completely broke down and started sobbing hysterically here. Let’s be realistic about the “crying” before we start castigating him for it, hmm?
How does any of that equate to womanly crying?
Now yes, he was retiring from what is basically a kids game. And yeah, yeah, as Ace noted, men are only supposed to cry when their children are born or their parents die. Yeah, yeah. Fine, whatever. But let’s consider this. Favre had played football for seventeen years, all but one of those years with the Green Bay Packers. When you work somewhere for that long, doing something you absolutely love, does it remain “just a job”? Favre’s career with the Packers was more than just a job; his teammates, coaches, and fans more than just co-workers. The Green Bay Packers became so much more than just the team he played for; to Packers fans, he was so much more than just the quarterback. As he said in the press conference, he has given everything to that team — playing during some of the hardest times of his life — he still wants to play, and as he also said, he doesn’t have anything left to give.
Just stop and think about the magnitude of that statement. If you had to give up doing something that you absolutely loved, that you didn’t want to stop doing, but that you knew you had to for your own good and for the good of the organization, would that be an easy decision for you to make? Would it be an easy retirement? Of course not! Brett Favre is one of the best quarterbacks to ever play; one of the toughest as well (he holds the record for most consecutive starts, and that record is no small feat). He could probably play for a few more years and still be adequate. Him walking away from the Packers is not like, say, Tom Brady leaving the Patriots. Not many quarterbacks have had careers like Brett Favre has had.
Add on to the monumental decision Favre had to make the outpouring of emotion, prayers, and love that virtually the entire community of Green Bay has for him, and is it really all that surprising that the man would get a little choked up? No!
Have you ever had an intense show of emotion from anyone? I have, and it wears off on you. You can’t help but get emotional yourself. Now imagine hundreds of thousands of people giving you those intense emotions.
Men should be stoic, and they shouldn’t be crying like women do, but good Lord, they aren’t supposed to be robots. Just because men don’t show their emotions does not mean that they don’t have them.
So let’s lay off Brett Favre about his crying (and really, he wasn’t even really crying that much). It doesn’t make him womanly or wimpy or anything like that — it just means that he’s a normal human being.