As everyone knows by now, Brett Favre has been named Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated magazine. The story, written by Alan Shipnuck, is excellent, though it does bog down a bit with the now mandatory recounting of every tragedy Favre has been through the last ten years, events every Packer fan knows the details of far better than they probably should. Much more interesting is the small light that is cast on Brett's philanthropic ways and some good background on how his mother and father raised him. It's this grounding, his mothers insistance that she never treat her children as if they were any better than the special needs children she worked with every day that seems to have provided Favre such a level head when it comes to giving back to the community or to those less fortunate. (PackerGeeks make a great point about Brett's humility and how it compares to other big time NFL quarterbacks.)
There's one picture in particular that, I will admit, had me tearing up here at my desk while reading the S.I. article. It shows Brett on bended knee in the Packers practice facility meeting a young girl in a Packer cheerleading outfit. Just another day for Brett, meeting with children from the Make A Wish Foundation. But it's so much more, and it's hard to explain to those blinded by excessive football media fawning who have fallen into Favre-Hating, just how special this man is. How different Favre is than every other pro athlete that flashes across our television screen. How many of us take time out of our week to think about the disadvantaged let alone to meet and/or help them? Sure, I hear the cynics saying 'He's paid millions of dollars, he plays a game for a living" which, to me, makes it all the more impressive. In a year that has seen a different superstar quarterback go to jail for behavior that can only charitably be described as sub-human, it seems only fitting that Favre's humanitarian work get due notice. Why are we subjected to every sordid, twisted turn of Vick's story on a national media blitz, while great, humble work like Brett's (and others, like Warrick Dunn) get a small mention in a hometown newspaper or maybe a thirty second sound bite on the local evening news, if that.
I could go on and on (and already have) but suffice to say it's an award that is well deserved.