I never thought I'd say this, but I really wish Brett Favre would quit, really.

I understand how tough it is for a truly competitive person to throw in the towel, call it a day, give it up or walk away. And usually, I respect that. But, please, Brett, please, if you love football as much as it seemed you did for the last 17 years, do not do this to your fans. Do not do this to the game.

Walk away like you said you would. Be done. Move on. Grow up.

Before Favre announced his resignation in March — a tearful, emotional affair that seemed the perfect ending to his storied career — I wouldn't have cared if he stayed another year. But once he said his goodbyes, we all moved on. Doors shut. Things changed.

There were issues with his exit. I wish he'd just left at the end of the season with the grace he'd often displayed at quarterback for the Green Bay Packers instead of the waffling he'd done in the last few years. It made him look more like a sore (literally) loser than a sincere man who'd accomplished what he could in a game he has forever impacted.

Still, he left. He cried, we cried, and then apparently, just when we were coming to grips with professional football without him, he reconsidered.

The problem isn't just that he wants to come back for another season, it's that the 38-year-old asked the Packers to release him — so he could play for another team! Oh, insult of all insults! I can hear the Favre posters ripping in half as fans tear them from their walls. And I don't blame them.

I am not a Packers fan, but I loved watching Favre play.

Who didn't? It wasn't just his skill, or the fact that he was a risk-taker as much as he was a playmaker. It was that he looked like he was having the time of his life playing football. Snow, sleet, winning or losing, Favre displayed the kind of fire and exuberance that made the softest among us think about taking a hit for him. He was the Peter Pan of football, the consummate kid. He never seemed troubled or stressed about plays or pressure; he just flashed that boyish grin, threw out those hilarious one-liners, and we forgave him anything.

I loved every moment he was on the field. The fact that his passion for the game was palpable only made him, in good times or in bad, more endearing. His commitment to the game is something we never questioned.

That is, until now.

Who abandons the team, the fans, the legacy? Peter Pan may have refused to grow up, but he never went to work for Captain Hook, either.

Okay, Michael Jordan did come out of retirement to play for the Washington Wizards, but he did leave himself an opening when he said he was 99.9 percent sure he would never come back. Not good odds that he'd come back and humiliate himself and alienate Bulls fans, but he always was one to beat the odds.

Still, I'd be willing to bet he wishes he hadn't done it.

Ironically, Jordan was 38 when he returned to basketball. Could this be some kind of mid-life, can't-bring-myself-to-step-out-of-the-limelight crisis?

Thankfully Green Bay fans have an unlikely savior in the team's general manager, Ted Thompson, who said he actually would have taken Favre back if he'd made this decision a little sooner than mid-July. It's like having an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend show up on the eve of your wedding to someone else. Um, awkward ... and too late to make a difference, but just in time to cause a lot of drama.

The team has a new quarterback. They've begun a new relationship and hopefully another new era in Packer football.

How can Favre, who purported to love Packer fans, do this to them on the eve of this new season?

Thompson won't let him. He politely declined to release Favre and even more politely said one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history won't even start if he does come back. Now I'm not sure Thompson, who adores Favre even more than fans do, will stick to that if his new relationship hits a rocky patch. The three-time MVP did have an impressive season last year and these two have a history.

My advice to Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy is that if the temptation to trade or play Favre becomes unbearable, remember that he was as much trouble as he was fun. Change is difficult. Breaking up is hard to do. Don't let him sweet talk or manipulate you anymore.

If he can't end it, you should.

It would be a favor to sports fans everywhere. We shouldn't have to endure watching another legend humiliate himself in a jersey he should never have had the chance to wear.

E-mail: adonaldson@desnews.com