August 28, 2009

Number Four Only Looking Out for His Number One

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Unless you are a Vikings fan or Brett Favre’s wife, who cares that Favre signed with Minnesota?
It’s been over a decade since we have seen the younger, more agile Favre lifting the Lombardi Trophy above his head.
I get it. The man has grit. He has charisma. Guess what? He also has gray hair, a beat-up arm and pretty soon, an AARP card.
I understand he won three Most Valuable Player awards and holds numerous records, including the most consecutive starts by a quarterback in the NFL, but he was not even the greatest quarterback of his generation. Favre’s best years were during the previous Democratic administration, and that was 12 years ago.
John Elway, the man who defeated Favre in Super Bowl XXXII, holds the record for most the game-winning or game-tying scoring drives in the fourth quarter, with 47. Unlike Favre, Elway knew when it was time to leave the game and did so gracefully after winning his second consecutive Super Bowl in 1999. Dan Marino also overshadowed Favre as the game’s premier passer despite never winning a ring. Today, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning outperform Favre even when he was in his prime. Heck, even Ben Roethlisberger has twice as many Super Bowl rings as Favre.
Favre’s gunslinger mentality has been described as a high-risk, high-reward approach and lately there’s been very little reward. After leading the Jets to a sparkling 8-3 record last season, Favre surely struggled down the stretch run. It was not until the Jets dropped four of their last five that he admitted finishing the year with a torn biceps tendon in his throwing arm. Should Favre be viewed as the ultimate warrior for refusing to sit out when he was injured or is this just another case of a selfish athlete putting his own self-interests first? Like baseball’s iron man, Cal Ripken Jr., will Favre someday be viewed as an indestructible competitor or merely seeking to preserve an individual consecutive game streak?
In Favre’s last three playoff games, he has thrown as many interceptions as touchdowns and has a pedestrian 87.9 passer rating. The glory days are long gone for this aging quarterback, who the press shadows with 24/7 news coverage. Someone please update ESPN: No one cares about Brett Favre anymore.
The latest update to this saga is that Favre has been feeling less than welcome in the Minnesota locker room. Apparently, some of the players believe Sage Rosenfels or Tarvaris Jackson gives the team a better chance of winning? Really? Who wouldn’t want an aging veteran to lead their team? Number Four has looked out for only one person throughout this process and that is Number One. Someone who respects the franchise he plays for would not retire just to void a contract. And, he definitely would not put on the jersey of a longtime division rival, such as the Minnesota Vikings.
Favre would not even be considered in the top-10 quarterbacks of all time. In no particular order: Terry Bradshaw, Elway, Marino, Joe Montana, Bart Starr, Roger Staubach, Fran Tarkenton, Otto Graham, Manning, Brady and Johnny Unitas. Keep in mind Favre may have more single season records than some of the aforementioned names, but he had more games in which to compile these records while the some of the other quarterbacks only played 14-game seasons.
Favre has taken it to the extreme from his tearful goodbyes to his heated disputes with the Green Bay Packers’ front office. Much as former heroes such as Willie Mays, Steve Carlton and Michael Jordan stayed around way too long after their skills had clearly eroded, it is likely that Favre’s once brilliant career is destined to end in a similar fashion. I do not want to detract from his Hall-of-Fame credentials, but this retirement flip-flop has become tiresome. I’m sure the people in Green Bay and Minnesota find it quite fascinating. Upon signing Favre, the Vikings promptly sold 4,000 season tickets, 15,000 individual game tickets and 5,000 jerseys within a 72-hour period. Conversely, thousands of Cheese Heads across the Dairy State circled Oct. 5 and Nov. 1 on their calendars for these are the two dates on which the Packers will renew acquaintances with their former field general. With all of America watching on those dates, will Favre be great once again or will the Cheese Heads grate him like old cheddar?