Monday, July 28, 2008

Peter King and Brett Favre - Let's Get Real

Peter King, who writes a great column for SI.Com, today devotes a healthy chunk of his Monday Morning Quarterback to the ongoing Brett Favre saga. Much of it is great information, but there are a handful of things that I take strong issue with.

First, from a section in the column that King calls "Things I Think I Know" about the situation:

8. I think I know the Jets are fact-finding about Favre, as are the Bucs. But Favre is lukewarm, at best, about playing in either spot. The best thing either team could do is send a GM or owner, or both, to Mississippi today or tomorrow to fact-find with Favre. He doesn't know either team well. I know the teams don't want to be seen as groveling around Favre and begging him to come because of the impression it would leave about their incumbent quarterbacks, but Favre's in a sensitive spot right now. He's human. He'd like to be loved a little bit right now, or at least gather some information so if he had to make a decision about whether to accept a trade he'd know more than he knows now.

[Emphasis added]

"...but Favre's in a sensitive spot right now. He's human. He'd like to be loved a little bit right now..." What? Are you kidding me? Favre has milked the media for all it is worth on the retirement issue for several years now, made what sounded to the entire world like a heartfelt, definitive retirement announcement several months ago, and now he'd like to be loved a little bit? Sorry, but this is total b.s. Favre has only himself to blame for this situation, and here King comes dangerously close to enabling his behavior. It's a tough thing to say, but I think Favre has lost the right to claim the benefit of the doubt. And he certainly is not deserving of much sympathy.

From the same section of the column:

10. I think I know this too shall pass. What was Jerry Rice's last team? Seriously: What team was he with last in the NFL? You don't know. (Well, OK, all you Bronco fans know.) He was in Denver's camp trying to make that team on his way out of the NFL. And the media was all atwitter with stuff like: "You're ruining your legacy, Jerry!''

Well, I do know, and I suspect that most passionate NFL fans know, but that's neither here nor there.

I think King is dead wrong on this comparison. The annals of major league sports are littered with the carcasses of legendary athletes who stayed on past their prime. What Jerry Rice was doing - trying to squeeze one more season out of a tired body and not realizing that his time was up - has absolutely nothing in common with what Brett Favre is doing. The assumption with Favre is that he will still be a great player in 2008. That's one thing. But more importantly, what Favre is doing now has nothing to do with his legacy on the field - had he announced back in March that he was returning for one more season and then stunk up the joint, everyone eventually would have forgotten that one season and chosen to remember the glory years.

What Favre is threatening to ruin (and may have already damaged beyond repair) is his legacy as a person. For years, Favre has cultivated, if not encouraged, a portrayal of himself as the one guy who was different...the one guy who was in it for the love of the game, who put loyalty and sportsmanship above all else. The media ate it up, and he became "St. Favre," the player who was out there helping his team, even as he was making bad decisions in the pocket and playing like a shadow of his former self. And let's not kid ourselves; in recent years there were more of those kinds of seasons than there were glorious years like 2007. What has happened this summer has exposed the legend as a lie. And while Brett Favre will continue to be rightly revered for his play on the field, never again should he be held up as the shining example of some ideal that never existed in the first place.

And later, from the "Things I Think I Think" section of the column:

I think in Washington the other day, Redskins VP Vinny Cerrato made the kind of point that made me say, "I wish I'd thought of that.'' He said he wondered if the Favre situation would have turned out differently if the Packers had the kind of ownership structure that had one man at the helm, not a community. Would this be happening if Dan Snyder employed a legendary quarterback in his twilight? Or Jerry Jones? Or Bob Kraft? Or Pat Bowlen? Great, great point.

Huh? Why is that a great point? Where is any shred of evidence that those guys would have done things differently? In fact, I think one could construct an argument that those guys, tough businessmen that they are, might have jettisoned Favre about two seasons ago, holding a big party and thanking him for his years of service. The only comparison I can think of in recent years was the 49ers dealing with Joe Montana, who was only the greatest quarterback of my lifetime. And when it came down to the tough choice, Montana was on his way to Kansas City. I think King totally dropped the ball on this one.

As none other than Brett Favre himself says, recounted by King near the end of the column: "this is the ugliness of business." That's exactly right, Brett. And you're not immune to it.

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