25 January 2010

Piling On

I’ve been sitting on this all season.
In the last couple of weeks, particularly over the last week, leading up to the NFC Championship game, we’ve had to endure the premature canonization of Brett Favre. The arguments about how winning another Super Bowl with a different team at age 40 would be just about the most amazing thing the football universe has ever seen never stopped; every show, every hour, there was discussion about where Brett would rank on the list of best quarterbacks if he could pull off what, to every commentator I heard, already seemed to be a foregone conclusion.
And now, the morning after his second interception in his final play of an NFC Championship game in three years, what discussion do we already have to endure? What question occupied the minds of the football chattering class from March on in 2009?
Will Brett come back for another year?
And if so, where?

Give it a rest, already. And give Favre a rest, too.
I’m certainly not going to claim the man can’t play the game, or that he isn’t one of the top quarterbacks in history (and even at present). He is a stellar talent, a remarkable player, exciting to watch.
He is absolutely NOT Christ in His second coming. Why do we have to put up with this characterization?
It is only too perfect that in the game that the football media told us could prove Favre one of the greatest of all time, he instead proved the truth behind the old complaint about him: he’s high reward, but high risk. Who but Brett Favre, on a play where he needed to toss a three yard screen to keep possession and get into field goal range to put the game away, would toss a long lob and have it intercepted by the NFL’s oldest punch line? Brett Favre literally threw that game away. There’s no other way to say.
He’s great. Yeah, he is. But sometimes, the most remarkable thing about Brett Favre is the way he throws things away.
Like the way he threw away the love and adulation of an entire state, the way he turned his back not just on a team (a team that was ready to move forward and not get jerked around by a guy who literally does not know when to quit) but on a city and legions of fans, just to stick it to a couple guys he didn’t like and didn’t agree with.
That was what bothered me the most in lead-up to Farve’s latest pick of infamy—the lionization of his potentially leading two different teams to the Super Bowl. Some folks get traded, that happens. But I’m an old-school Cal Ripken guy: I like a player who stays in one place, or at least isn’t in control of his trading. I realize that’s not the world we live in any more, but shoot, Favre played a full and successful career in one city, so clearly it can be done. It’s this second career of his that he’s started, first expecting his old team to put their entire future on hold while he dithered about whether to retire, then spurning them for a Jets team who he clearly didn’t really want to play for and weren’t able to protect him, and then moving to his Packers’ arch-rivals just to have the chance to beat them and prove his point.
You know who Brett Favre reminds me of? Not the everyman, Wrangler-wearing joe-sixpack his marketing agents want us to see him as. No. Brett Favre is Michael Jordan. All he really wants to do is get back at everybody who ever said anything bad about him. When he’s inducted into the hall of fame—as there is no doubt he deserves to be—Favre is going to stand up there and call out the guys in the Packers organization who he’ll still be carrying a grudge against. And we’ll all say, what a shame it is.

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