Throughout Brett Favre's 13 seasons in Green Bay, an endless stream of quarterbacks had come and gone. Once, when Mark Brunell rose from the bench in 1994, there was a (relatively slim) possibility of Favre being replaced. Otherwise, every signal caller brought to town was there solely to provide support. Through the years, the men signed to back Favre had been a mixed bag of seasoned veterans (Ken O’Brien, Jim McMahon, David Klingler, Steve Bono, Tim Couch) and unspectacular-yet-useful youngsters (Ty Detmer, Doug Pederson, Craig Nall). Some, like Detmer and Pederson, turned into lifelong friends. Others, like O’Brien and Couch, arrived and departed with barely a shadow. “When you signed with Green Bay, there was no false illusion you were there to fight Brett for a job,” said Akili Smith, the Bengals’ first-round pick in 1999 who attended camp with the Packers four years later. “He wasn’t just the team and he wasn’t just the city. He was the state. You just wanted to hang on and hold a clipboard.”

Favre was 35 by the time the season concluded on Jan. 9, 2005, with the Wild Card defeat to the Vikings (he played terribly, throwing four interceptions). After the game, he was asked about retirement and again hemmed and hawed. Maybe. Possibly. I’ll pray on it. I think so. I think no. Michael Hunt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel became the first local scribe to push for Favre to hang it up, noting that the league’s oldest starting quarterback had to ask himself, “what motivation would [I] have to play a 14th season with a slipping organization?” Donald Driver, the veteran wide receiver and Favre’s friend, told the Arizona Republic, “I think he’s had enough. I really do.”

Favre felt the call of retirement. The team wasn’t the same anymore. He was, by now, the oldest Packer by two years, and he struggled to relate with the modern era of me-me-me football players. Where was Reggie White? Where was Jim McMahon? LeRoy Butler? Frank Winters? The new kids were largely about highlights, headlines, attention. The locker room had once been a place of laughter and jokes and farts and stink bombs. Over the years, everything quieted. The younger Packers spent their time with headphones in their ears, listening to their own tunes while drowning out the world. No one went out after games. There was Xbox to play.