In the details, different circumstances.
In an overarching sense, though, it's really the same thing.
It is difficult to give up what you do if what you do is who you are. And that is sometimes problematic and can be quite sad but I view the un-retirements of both Favre and Armstrong in a different light. What I see is a refusal to allow external things, whether it's illness or an advancing calendar or even the legitimate longterm plans of someone else, to define their lives and their ambitions.
In Armstrong's case, the seven-time Tour de France champion's comeback attempt is a great thing for cycling overall. At this point, I can't think of anything else that could better revive general interest in cycling in the United States than his return to competition. But I also admire his determination to, in a sense, set the record right in establishing his claim that his seven Tour championships were earned cleanly -- and to do it again under the most intense scrutiny ever.
In Favre's case, as the cruel game he plays takes its toll on a younger quarterback superstar, Tom Brady of the Patriots, and other important players, such as San Diego defensive end, Shawne Merriman, the graying signal-caller manages to grind on giving a new set of fans in New York hope with each game, with each play.
In the end, that's what athletes like Armstrong, at 37, and Favre, at 38, really give the rest of us -- a faith that determination, perseverance and hard work still count for something, if even for just one more day, in the face of the most irrepressible and relentless force that works against any of us -- time. Even if one considers the effort ultimately futile, the effort itself is inspiring.