It's time for a new chapter in my life

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol
  • U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center Public Affairs
Okay, now I finally have to talk about it. For the past 16 years, my career and life have paralleled that of a professional football player, and that player's name is Brett Favre. 

No, I've never played college or professional football but with his retirement announcement from the National Football League March 3, it brought to an end years of commonalities I've had with him since he started playing with the Green Bay Packers in 1992. 

First, let me provide some background. Brett Favre and I are the same age - 38. He joined the Packers in February 1992 - the same month and year I joined the Air Force. In 1996, his team went on to the Super Bowl and won. That year, my son Jackson was born - my own version of a Super Bowl win. Brett even has a brother named Scott! The coincidences are never-ending it seems. 

All that aside, watching Brett Favre play as the ironman quarterback for the past 16 NFL seasons has been an absolute treat for me. Because of our coincidental comparisons of events happening at similar times, and the fact he played for my favorite team of all time, it's been like having a brother to watch no matter where I've been in the world. 

In October 1992, while I was stationed at Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal, the Packers were 0-2 and looking for a boost. Game Three was against the Cincinatti Bengals.
Backtracking a little, those were the days before the Internet, e-mail and today's "instant" information. To watch that game, my father had mailed me a VHS tape of the game several days after it happened and it would be the first Packer game I'd see that season. I remember watching it and seeing Don Majkowski go out with an injury and Brett Favre going in. I also remember celebrating as Brett brought the Packers back for their first win of the season. 

From there, he never gave up the reigns of being the quarterback for 275 consecutives starts. After 16 years, I still have that tape. 

In October 1996, just weeks after my son was born and I was stationed at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, I remember getting the chance to go with friends to Seattle, Wash., to see the Packers take on the Seahawks in the Kingdome. It was my first time ever seeing a Packers game live. And surprisingly, it was in the season they won the Super Bowl. At the Kingdome that day, in a stadium that held 63,000, it was estimated there were more than 45,000 Packer fans in attendance. It was an experience I'll never forget as the Packers trounced the Seahawks by a score of 40-something to, well, you get the picture. 

I can recall in October 1997, while deployed to Southwest Asia for Operation Southern Watch, I stood out front of my tent with a bunch of other Packer fans listening to Brett Favre light up the Minnesota Vikings with his first five-touchdown pass game en route to a Packers 35-28 victory. We listened to it on Armed Forces radio as it happened, which was later at night. All of Packer fans dance around in our desert camoflauge uniforms like we'd won the lottery or something. Another moment in time I'll never forget. 

In late September 2001, just two weeks after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, I was stationed at Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., and the world was a different place. It was the Packers second game of the season after a bye week and I was hosting a Monday night party in my office. The party was for Air Force Reserve and Air National Guardsmen from Milwaukee, Wisc., who came to support our base with higher security measures. In all, about 20 of them came to watch the Packers play the Redskins and the Packers and Favre didn't disappoint, winning 37-0. It was the Packers first shut-out at the time since 1993. I'll never forget that day either. 

Fast forward to October 2003, I'm in Baghdad, Iraq, supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Packers are taking on the Seahawks again at home. It's late at night and me and a number of other fans are watching the game via the Armed Forces Network. Brett Favre leads the Packers on five straight scoring drives to a 35-13 win. I'm dancing in my DCUs again. Later that month, the Packers drop a couple of games. Also later that month, I lose a deployed friend to an insurgent rocket attack. Again, I won't forget. 

Through all the past 16 years, I've had moments, life experiences and more that easily co-relate to Brett Favre and the Packers. His retirement is like watching my brother retire before me - I have four more years before I can retire from the military. Nonetheless, I will miss seeing him play, but it's time to move on. 

Ironically, the day Brett Favre first reported he was retiring (March 3), that was also the day I went to the military clothing store to buy the new Air Force utility uniform. I heard the news on the radio right after I'd dropped off the uniforms to get stripes sewn on.
Go figure? Here, after 16 years of wearing the battle dress uniform, I just out of the blue decided to get a new uniform and leave the old one behind on the same day Brett Favre decides he's done with football. 

That was the last coincidence I'll ever have with Brett Favre. I know he'll never read this, but if he could I'd tell him thanks. Thanks for being who he is - that's all. Not a superstar or an NFL record holder -- just a person. He's made my life better - albeit indirectly. 

Now, as he said he's going to "march off into the sunset," so will I of sorts. I'll be wearing my new digitized, tiger-striped, Air Force "above all" uniform, and he'll be wearing his - blue jeans and a T-shirt. 

Thanks for the memories!