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Favre was a superstar, but he was also one of us

Other than his supercharged arm and his gunslinger's mentality, Brett Favre was one of us.

We've suffered through what he suffered through. We've cried over the same things he has. Aside from all the big hits he absorbed through the years, we felt so much of what he felt. We've identified with him more than any other football player, and maybe any other athlete, which is why he was one of us. He has been as human as the people on the streets of Green Bay.

He made mistakes on his job, just the way we do. The very last throw of his NFL career was an error, an interception, and yet he was strong enough to still leave the game, knowing his legacy is intact. But there was more that made him like us.

When Packers wide receiver Javon Walker considered holding out of training camp a few years ago, Favre ripped him the way callers to sports talk radio would. Favre didn't like the idea of a player not honoring his contract the way we don't like the idea of a player not honoring his contract. Favre spoke for us.

He acted for us when he checked himself into rehab earlier in his career, to battle the type of addiction that has afflicted our families, our friends, and too many people in this world.

It was that type of strength that made Favre think he could make throws he couldn't, and do things that, athletically, we all have fantasized about doing. We wanted to heave the downfield throw, into the arms of an open receiver, in a Super Bowl, just like Favre did.

We wanted to jaw with Warren Sapp, and tell him how uncalled for it was for him to do the unthinkable to Packers offensive tackle Chad Clifton. We wanted to play in the cold, in the snow, and run around as if we were in our backyards, as Favre did in the yard that became his own, Lambeau Field.

The quarterback we cheered gained our respect because he was forced to endure the everyday events we all battle in our own lives. Favre's father, Big Irv, died of a heart attack in December 2003, and he still went out and played the very next night, as if the football field were his haven for healing.

He got another phone call, a mere 10 months later, informing that his wife Deanna's brother, Casey Tynes, was killed in an ATV accident, and Favre demonstrated the strength he did on the field.

And then, shortly after, Deanna Favre was diagnosed with breast cancer, completing the hat trick of tragedies that Favre was handed. His life, an alleged glitzy and glamorous life, was no safer from heartache than ours.

When Hurricane Katrina hit all of us, it hit Favre's family, too, wiping out the home in which he grew up. When others tried to reach displaced family members, Favre finally did -- on television, for everyone to see.

And, in the end, this was the most significant difference between Favre and us. The adversity he faced, the sadness he experienced, the lessons he learned, all unfolded in front of us, every Sunday, for the football world to see. Our lives went on in private. His went on in public.

But all along, from the time he entered the league with his name being mispronounced on draft day to the time he packed up his football gear one final time, Favre was one of us.

Now he walks away from his day job and into the sunset, into retirement, the way so many of us dream of doing one day.

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