On March 4th, Packers quarterback Brett Favre announced his retirement and Dungeons and Dragons creator Gary Gygax passed away. To be sure, it was a tough day for gaming groups in the greater Green Bay area.
Normally, when you hear news of a big time sports star retiring or a major social icon retiring (yes, I’m calling Gary Gygax a social icon), their days of contribution are long past. Defensive lineman Warren Sapp, who retired on that same March 4th, was at least three or four seasons removed from his era of dominance. But in the cases of Favre and Gygax, they still had something in the tank. Favre had his highest passer rating since 1996 (and his third highest ever) in a more mature and complicated offense. Gygax still found ways to contribute to the nerd and geek culture even after starting to take it easy in the year leading up to his death. They were icons, yes, but neither were mere figureheads.
Each represented escapism in their own way, because each let us imagine ourselves as heroes. We watched Favre throw three touchdowns (and an interception) in a Sunday snowstorm and could see ourselves right beside him in the huddle. We played in Gygax’s world and fought goblins and explored ancient castles with our buddies. Both sport and gaming allow us to shed everything we don’t want and take up everything we do. Whether people spend their Sundays in front of an HDTV or a dice-strewn table, the same type exhilaration manifests. And we have these two to thank.
So whatever you want to do to celebrate, please do. Slay some Beholders, paint your face in green and yellow, order ten pizzas and hang out with your buddies. Heck, do all three. I know plenty of folks that did.