Brett Favre used to be my favorite football player. There was a time where all of the things now used as punchlines applied to him. Seeing the joy on his face when something went well really did make him look like a kid on the field. His willingness to take chances was refreshing. He actually was a gunslinger. His consecutive games streak was something to be admired, a tribute to his toughness.These were refreshing attributes in a league that had most players acting in the opposite fashion to the extreme. It is only a game.
My opinion on the guy did not change after his year with the Jets. The season ended in disappointing fashion, but Favre provided a lot of fun moments and played as hard as he could through injury. I respected that.
My opinion on Favre has changed over the past two years. I could say that he has come to embody everything bad about sports since he signed with the Vikings. While this has actually made me aware of what he has become, the fact of the matter is I ignored many inconvenient truths due to my admiration for the guy that sprung up long before he was a Viking. What I have seen does not only reflect on Favre, though.
More after the jump.
I mentioned that Favre's style was refreshing in comparison to the rest of the league. I still admire his toughness. The consecutive games streak is still impressive. So was the way he stayed in the NFC Championship Game after suffering a devastating ankle injury. The problem is that Favre has taken some of his other attributes to the opposite extreme. Yes, it is nice to see a quarterback not afraid to take calculated gambles. Favre is reckless with the ball in big spots and has been killing his team consistently for close to a decade. He has single handedly brought down seasons because he forced balls he has known better than to throw so that he could play the hero. We saw this at the end of the 2008 season. There are plenty of other examples, though. There was the 2001 game in St. Louis where every other ball he threw was up for grabs. There was his overtime interception in Philadelphia two years later where there were only Eagles in the area. There was his killer interception throwing against his body at the end of regulation in last year's NFC Championship Game when his team was on the fringe of range for a winning field goal.
This brings me to what is wrong with the media. This is an age of sacred cows in the sports media. One set of rules apply to most players, but a few can do no wrong. Favre is the president of the few. ESPN's Tom Jackson actually complimented Favre on his killer throw against the Saints. "That's the thing about Brett Favre: He's not afraid to throw interceptions. You have to admire him for that," the analyst said. There was a 2004 Playoff game Favre played against Minnesota when he knowlingly threw a forward pass across the line of scrimmage on a third down play instead of getting tackled a yard short. The Packers were in the red zone and likely would have picked up the first down with a fourth down running play. Instead, they took a penalty. Ryan Longwell missed a field goal. Favre laughed when the officials called the penalty. Cris Collinsworth calling the game for FOX laughed with Favre and complimented the fun the quarterback was having. There was no criticism for his selfishness costing his team points in a huge game.
This is an age where fans are turned off by the inflated egos of athletes. Favre is the king of ego. He has retired after the last three NFL seasons only to drag out drama as to whether he would continue to play and hijacking the national news media, which waits with baited breath to see what their sacred cow will decide. Most egregious was in 2008 when Favre turned Packers training camp into a media circus. He had retired months earlier. The Packers announced they would go with Aaron Rodgers as their starter. It was clear the Packers would trade Favre if he wanted to continue playing. Favre showed up at camp and created a circus for his team and the young quarterback who did nothing wrong just to get himself into the news.
This is an age where fans are tired of teams selling their soul for selfish star players. The Vikings have done nothing short of that to get Favre the past two years. He has arrived late the past two years by choice because his team wanted him to play quarterback. This year his coach sent three teammates to his house to beg him to return. His team gave him a raise to convince him to return. Part of what poisoned Favre's relationship with the Packers was the team's failure to placate his demands to trade for Randy Moss at any cost. Because they didn't listen to HIS advice, he got angry.
This is an age where fans are tired of their favorite players having zero loyalty to them. Favre is the extreme example of this case. He was the most beloved player in Packers history. There had been no greater love story between player and fans in professional football in two decades. Favre was part of the community's culture. How did he repay these fans? He openly sought to go to one of their bitter rivals to settle a petty grudge with his old employer. He could have returned to the Jets. He could have found a new team looking for a quarterback. He could have retired with nothing further to accomplish in the league. He didn't. He decided to devastate his former fans.
I understand the NFL is a business. It's unseemly. I said as much during the Revis saga, where I wasn't personally angry about anything that happened. I understand most of the media world doesn't try to give people objective accounts of events. The idea is to get buddy-buddy with athletes and increase ad dollars. These things are facts of life. Heck, we see a lot of them come to life with the Jets, particularly when it comes to media hype. That doesn't mean that I like them, though, or that they are necessarily good things. I don't blame Vikings fans for defending him. I defended him when he was here and before. I was wrong, though. Brett Favre now magnifies these bad things to the extreme.