Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I Fear Things that Cannot be Killed like Zombies and Brett Favre

I’m guessing everyone has heard the news by now. The sun has risen. Oh, yeah. And some guy unretired...again. I did not catch the contract numbers, but I’m guessing he signed for 30 pieces of silver.

It was surreal to see the helicopter watching Brett get off the plane and then following the SUV as it drove to the Vikings practice facility. It was like Michael Jackson’s funeral all over again. Except this time, I was mourning for my memories.

I am deeply disappointed in Favre’s decision and his character. He seems to be actively trying to be oblivious to fan sentiment. He does not seem to understand how his actions are tarnishing his reputation. I hope he will be remembered for the wins and records rather than the damage he inflicted on his relationship he built with Packer fans.

One thing for sure will come from Brett suiting up for the Vikings. It will be easy to tell who the 1990’s bandwagon jumpers were. Every fan who cheers for the Vikings and Favre, but against the Packers, was never a true Packer fan to begin with.

I understand that Reggie White and THE Green Bay Packer icon, Vince Lombardi, also retired and then came back to a different team. They did not, however, threaten retirement for the last five years as a Packer, tearfully retire on the national stage, suggest they want to return, decide to stay retired, announce their return through the media, make a spectacle at Family Night in Green Bay, force a trade, spout off hate to the national media about a team that supported them for years, lead their new team to an underwhelming season, retire again, get bad mouthed by ex-teammates, suggest another return, stay retired because they could not play/coach at a high level any longer, and then return to the game again because they could play/coach at a high level after all.

Over the years, my great memories of Brett have created this myth. I ingeniously call it The Brett Favre Myth (BFM.) It basically is the feeling that Favre is bigger than the team. That Brett, and him alone, won all those games. The home games in the cold at Lambeau. The 4th quarter comebacks. The play-off games. The Super Bowl. And it’s that myth that clouds the sensibilities of Packer fans today.

Brett, the player, I admire. Brett, the loving son, I admire. Brett, the caring husband, I admire. Brett, the generous charity supporter, I admire. Brett, the prima donna, I don’t. And I think this is where the BFM clouds fans’ views.

I remember my Grandpa coming home after a random Packer game on a Sunday fall afternoon. I was practicing my pitching against the old concrete silo in our yard. My Grandpa stepped out of his Buick and handed me a great gift...a pack of Pro Set trading cards that were handed out to fans before the game. At the time, I never realized that was the beginning of the Packers return to dominance. What game was it? It was Brett’s memorable comeback in 1992 against the Cincinnati Bengals that announced his arrival as THE quarterback of the Green Bay Packers.

Since that day, Brett has given me great memories…and some not so good ones...

...I remember coming home from a church confirmation getaway and sitting down to watch the first Packer play-off game in years. The Packers were playing the Lions in Detroit. A quarterback playing like he didn’t know any better, rolled out left and heaved a bomb across the field and hit Sterling Sharpe to put the Packers up for good. At that moment, I knew the Packers were going places.

...After the Packers thoroughly demolished the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship game, nobody left. Everyone had their arms around the person next to them. We were swaying back and forth, singing “We Are The Champions.” “This Is Our House” was flashing on the Jumbotrons. It was a powerful moment. Brett Favre was front and center.

...I remember sitting in the basement at my cousin’s house watching Super Bowl XXXI. Brett, like a Pop Warner kid, running around the field with his helmet in the air, celebrating a long touchdown pass to Andre Rison. This is probably my favorite Favre moment. It will always be how I remember him.

...My worst Packer Favre memory is 4TH and 26. I still cannot talk about it.

...I was working 3rd shift at The Home Depot while Favre had one of his greatest games as a Packer and one of his worst games as a man. In the conference room, I watched Brett throw 5 touchdowns just days after losing his father to a heart attack. His emotions shown through the screen. If you watched that game and did not feel for Brett and his family, you are a robot.

...Sitting in the stands after the 2007 NFC Championship game, I was completely lost for words. Anger. Hate. Disappointment. Sadness. Shock. All emotions that raced through me. That was the last time I ever saw Brett in the Green and Gold. It still pains me to this day that Brett’s last pass as a Packer was a duck. He was trying to do something great, but it was a duck nonetheless.

I was disappointed in Brett’s response to a question posed to him today at his press conference. He was asked about people being tired of his wavering. He responded, “Don’t watch” and shrugged his shoulders. I liken that response to a little kid throwing a hissy fit in the middle of a crowded church. And then after getting scolded by adults, who disapprove of his childish actions, telling everyone, “If you don’t like it, don’t pay attention.” You’re going to get attention acting like a baby especially with ESPN monitoring your travel plans, Jay Glazer tapping your phone and Peter King camping outside your house. There are some people that get upset at the massive amounts of attention that is focused on them because of their sometimes outlandish behavior. Those people are either the Presidents of the United States or prima donnas. And Brett is definitely NOT the President of the United States.

I do not think Brett Favre will automatically put the Vikings in the Super Bowl. They were favorites to win the division and go deep into the play-offs in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. They failed each year. I do not think an aging superstar quarterback with a minor rotator cuff tear will light the world on fire. So then why would the Vikings sign Favre and to a 12,000,000 dollar a year contract? A few reasons can explain it. One, it makes the Vikings relevant on a national scale. The talking heads on ESPN are now talking about the Vikings. If Favre was not a Viking, ESPN would be going gonzo over Michael Vick or the return of Tom Brady. Two, it sells tickets. The Vikings were having trouble selling out the games. Now, the Vikings do not have to worry about local television blackouts. Three, it helps push the Vikings towards a new stadium. The owner is doing the same dance as every other professional sports team owner does. The Vikings might have to move if a new stadium is not built. It is blackmail in the simplest form. Build a new stadium or we’re gone. I would hate to be a Minnesota voter now especially after swallowing the tax increases for the new Twins stadium. The voters now feel the pressure to support the team by spending at least 500 million dollars on new digs. The owner cannot live without those luxury suites padding his wallet. He couldn't just live as a millionaire. He HAS to be a billionaire. Brett will help him with his money problems.

Most of the TT haters like to believe that the whole saga began with TT not wanting Favre back. It really began when Favre wanted TT to sign Randy Moss and TT passed. Then after the team was one duck pass away from the Super Bowl without Moss, TT passed again on Moss. Favre impulsively decided to retire, a move he clearly regretted as soon as he made it. Whether or not Favre was right about Moss, it was NOT his place to expect a voice in personal matters. Sherman started an unwise trend of letting Brett run the place. Teams cannot let players have personnel control or all hell will break loose. I think the old saying goes, “You cannot let the inmates run the asylum.” TT needed to stop that trend so he put his foot down and Favre took his ball and went home.

This particular Favre circus has nothing to do with Ted Thompson though. Many of Favre’s worshippers, brainwashed by the BFM, think Favre going to the Vikings is TT’s worst nightmare. It’s not. TT has his own team to worry about. However, I do believe this could be TT’s redemption. I read a blog today that compared TT to Osama bin Laden. Are you fucking kidding me? One orchestrated the worst terrorist attack in United States history that left thousands dead and a country forever changed. The other is a general manager for a professional sports team. Professional sports are in the entertainment business. Please, if you’re going to hate on TT, be smart about it. Come at me with an intelligent discussion. Do not let your love of Brett Favre feed your hatred of TT. TT made a business decision. A tough decision. An unpopular decision. But the right decision for the growth and future of the Green Bay Packers. As a PACKERS fan, that is what I expect the general manager to do. He made the impossible decision to let Brett leave, but it was the correct one. The Packers are now set at quarterback for 10 years rather than clinging for a few years to the battered right arm of a rapidly aging Hall of Fame quarterback.

I’ve got the season tickets ready to go for November 1st. Oh, he will get booed at Lambeau. To think otherwise would be as delusional as Favre thinking this does not hurt his legacy with Packer fans. I am torn. To boo or not to boo. It’s hard to remember all the great memories with a knife in my back. The Brett Favre saga could be comical, if it was not becoming a pathetic ending to what once was an admired, honored career.

Do I wish Favre was still in the Green and Gold? Yes. But I am a PACKER fan first. I always will be. I cheered for Dickey and Majkowski before Favre and I will cheer for Rodgers and his successors after Favre.

On a side note, Brett’s returned has helped my bottom line. The only way to purchase Packers tickets for the Rams game in St. Louis, directly from the Rams ticket office, was to purchase tickets to another game. I choose the Vikings at Rams game. And with Brett Favre coming back, not only will I be able to sell those tickets and recoup the face value, I will be able to sell them for twice as much and pay for the Packers tickets too. Boom! I now have free tickets to see the Packers in St. Louis. So I have that going for me, which is nice.

I’ll leave you all with a simple, but powerful quote. It came from Aaron Kampman after he was asked about Favre signing with the rival Vikings. “The red jersey will be off.” Yes. Yes, it will. Go get ‘em, guys!

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