In 2008, the Pittsburg Steelers won a riveting NFL Super Bowl game against the unlikely Arizona Cardinals. Damn near as exciting as the championship game of the previous year, where the New York Giants magnificently defeated the unblemished New England Patriots. With 2009 quietly shifting gears towards another enticing NFL season, every fan of the sport watches, waits, and feverishly anticipates what their favorite teams will do this coming year.
My squad is the Minnesota Vikings.
And yes... yellow can be manly...
As of this moment, Brett Favre, the waning 40-year-old quarterback who is destined for Hall of Fame greatness is once again "debating" his comeback from retirement. And guess whom every sports writer and pigskin fan declares as the obvious choice for such desperate investments… my team, the Vikings. :roll:
For anyone who has followed the Favre-melodrama the last few years, this silly bout of emotional gossip is nothing new. "The love for the game is strong", or "it's so difficult to walk away, couch coaches wouldn't understand", or "who even cares anymore", are all legitimate ways to logically excuse such back-and-forth whiney nonsense. My only suggestion as a hardcore fan of football, and of the man himself – stay retired Mr. Favre, please!
If you are into football as much as I am, the question hovering around the sports world and fans alike is undoubtedly there… "If Dreski is able to cheer for a team (the Vikings) who is accustom to coming up short (losing) so often, why begrudge the idea of bringing in a tried and true veteran (Favre) who can give them a decent shot at the big game (the Super Bowl) for JUST one year???"
Well, I'm happy you asked! Simply put, Brett Farve has been in the league for nearly 20 years – which is most of his adult life – and the man would be mighty wise to avoid further tarnishing his immaculate reputation and overall health. But isn't that something American football players are known and paid for (not the reputation part), resilience and physical endurance? Correct! Since the upgrade from the fashionably useless leather helmets, the NFL has become a catalyst for high-impact action that causes crowds to cringe with awe, or either scream for more broken bones. It's a silly generalization on my part, but the fact stands: people PAY MONEY for healthy able bodies to run up and down the field, ready and willing to smash anything in their path with extreme prejudice.
Brett Favre is 39 years old, and his extreme juice is running on "E". This is not some bitter team/player mud tossing. The man has a torn up shoulder AND bicep (his throwing arm), which needs surgery if he plans on returning to the sport. Medically speaking, the procedure is pretty straightforward and common among athletes who use their arms so much. Within 6 to 8 weeks, Favre (if he returns from retirement, again) could be on the field come week 1, with any team that wants him. Honestly speaking, there is TOO much risk investing in a deteriorating quarterback. His years of experience, enthusiasm for the game, a pass that resembles laser speed, one Super Bowl ring, and a undeniable urge to prove his manly fortitude all sound like a worthwhile gamble. A gamble many are saying Minnesota/Favre-haters would be crazy to pass up on. But what do you do when that legendary figure takes one heaping hit and doesn't bounce back up with a smile? What if he doesn't fully recover from his surgery? Would a few too many wild interceptions be fair for the defense? How do you even begin to justify medical expenses for a double-retiree to Viking supporters; fans who've seen their fair share of semi-useful, partly broken quarterbacks
The current standard in MN quarterbacking... it hurts!
Then there is the monotonous reputation matter. Brett Favre originally hails from one of Minnesota's most adored rivals, the Green Bay Packers. Playing for the cheese-heads pretty much his entire career, Favre has developed a respectable following with the organization and its devote fan base; they basically cheer for him like Michael Jackson of the early 90's. And I can't really blame them… anyone who plays in below 0 weather with ease, picks up heavy linemen after touchdowns, completes 68% of his passes after 16 years, and holds almost every major passing record in the NFL… it's difficult NOT to praise such an awesome player, retired or not.
But that's my whole concern with maintaining a reputable image – its not just about the kids and steroids – you have to be true blue for the team. This is something I think is becoming a lost notion in modern sports, but I'll save that rant for another conversation. Point is, about 2 years ago Favre was clashing with Packers management about his future with the team. Being the quarterback – next to the head coach – you embody every analogy in the book for calling the shots and commanding respect on the field. I'm not clear on every exact detail, but management was nudging Favre to either take an office job, or simply retire. In retrospect, the following year Favre lead the Packers to a 13-3 season and gave them a good run in the playoffs (until he threw a tough comeback-deflating interception).
Instead of riding off into the sunset, the clash with management erupted even further; accept the desk job, or warm the bench, these were number 4's final options in Green Bay. Favre demanded a trade of course, and this is when the venture for joining Minnesota first came to light. Because of legal mumbo-jumbo, the Packers actually had their franchise player locked up through contractual absurdity. So he fought and pleaded his way out of brief retirement, even utilized (unknowingly he claims) the ever-daunting media, all to end up with the New York Jets in 2008. And what a year it was on the East Coast!
Most of the Jets season was in the bag, and they were rocking an 8-3 record that many would credit solely to the Brett Favre phenomenon. This is when bricks started to rain on the picnic. The offensive line was still sour about the previous quarterback being run out of town, the team was operating under a new (passive) head coach, the sub-par defense could only work with what the quarterback arranged for them, the running backs were demanding more opportunities, and apparently the phenom wearing #4 was gradually playing worse with an unnamed injury. Finishing the season at 9-7 (interpret that stat as you see fit), the Jets missed the playoffs by one game, the new coach was fired, locker room gossip was leaking into the media, and Brett Favre reluctantly retired… again. THAT COULD HAVE BEEN THE MINNESOTA VIKINGS!! :?
"I don't like this feeling..." Adrian Peterson, after 1st round playoff elimination.
Most of my gripes with Brett Favre joining the Vikings revolve around a theory of malicious-intent on his part; something I believe has lingered over his head for the last few years and finally caught up with him, mentally and physically. In no way would I boo the dude if he dawned the purple (preferably as an assistant of some sort), but I definitely wouldn't be caught wearing his stitched on cash-in number. I really enjoyed watching and cheering for Favre over the years, even when he was squashing my home team. The plethora of potential he could bring to Minnesota or any team for that matter is undeniable, but it has to strictly be with good intentions for the TEAM.
"It's all about winning the Super Bowl!" most would remind me. What player or team doesn't intend on that final result… one who is possibly hell bent on "sticking it" to their old coaching staff. Like I said, it's a theory at best. But something tells me that Favre wasn't too keen on the idea of taking the bench when he still felt strong with Green Bay – so he made his case providing a winning season. Even after such glory, the office gig offered by GB management likely felt like a smack to the face, so why not converse with your neighborly rival and show'em you still got it. Minnesota was rightfully interested in him during this time (being friends with our offensive coordinator helped), but GB wasn't having it, and I doubt they wanted to face off against a scorned play-maker nearly 3 times in a single season. So instead of kicking back with endorsement money flooding out of his commercially popular jeans, Favre relapses. No doubt it was entertaining, even when the Jets went on that terrible losing streak. The man wearing number 4 proved his worth, carried a crippled team, scooped up a few more QB records, hushed his critics, and then excited them with failure. All the while living the dream most football fans can only imagine through video games and fantasy leagues.
How I will always remember #4
Speaking of imagination, assume Brett Favre did join the Minnesota Vikings for the 2009-2010 season. Our hidden piece to the Super Bowl puzzle could finally be revealed. It's not like other teams were completely unsuccessful with veteran QB's: Collins with Tennessee, Warner with Arizona, McNabb with Philadelphia, hell… even Warren Moon did his part with Minnesota back in the day!
Older players have a lot more than war stories and arthritis pains to share. They can easily rally team moral and exude bravado most coaches struggle to establish, especially with the younger pups. Minnesota is chalk full of youthful go-getters who want nothing more than to soak up insightful football tact, and that's not something you can always naturally do without a strong leader. Favre could bring that advantage to Minnesota, IF he's healthy and capable. Even if he wasn't 50% (something a lot Favre-faithfuls refuse to believe), there isn't much the Vikes really need right now besides a competent guy in the QB position. Hand the ball off to the amazing running backs, zip in a few accurate passes to the agile receivers, entrust the O-line with protection, and let the highly rated defense play with some new found confidence.
Sounds pretty cut and dry, but one look around the NFL and all I see is nothing but teams building for "future runs" at the Super Bowl. Nobody wants to attend a team meeting about what they're building towards; everyone wants to win now, and win big. Its not called the Minor Bowl, this I understand. Yet there is something uniquely bothersome about our lack-luster coaches, the billion-dollar owners, the bandwagon fans, and the Vikings legacy as a whole. How do you expect to maintain greatness if you always seek for the quickest fix? With Favre, a chance to improve our record of 10-6 from last season is a strong possibility, one that could even invite debate about legit Super Bowl contention. Without Favre, the purple-people eaters are left to their usual devices: an unreliable QB core, a defense that needs to play perfect every down, a coaching staff with shaky employment, and a fan base that hardly wants to attend their own home games. Kind of a bleak outlook for the purple pride, but if it leads to a stronger, more cohesive group built up by THEIR OWN MERIT, that said team will be more deserving than any jersey-buying fanatic will ever be able to comprehend. And I honestly wouldn't want it any other way! ;)
As for the Mississippi man, he's a hot commodity in the NFL, on or off the field. Staying retired is not his only option; though I truly believe if Brett Favre gears up for another year rather than embrace his wonderful accomplishments, such actions could be extremely detrimental to his career and whatever team he joins. Bottom line is, don't take the Michael Jackson route completely, Mr. Favre… being "remembered" as the king is dandy in concept, but nobody wants to line up to witness a train wreck cloaked in shameless ticket sales.
Please, let me know what you think fellow gamers and sports fans.