Thursday, May 21, 2009

Favre the Viking

I know I’m going to catch a lot of heat for this post and I’m at least somewhat prepared for it. I’m a sucker for drama. Not the forced kind that we see far too often from the likes of Terrell Owens, Manny Ramirez, and Alex Rodriguez. I’m talking about the kind that comes naturally. Willis Reed “playing on one leg”, the Cal Ripken “streak”, and Boise St. beating Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl are all examples of the kind of drama I can’t get enough of. For me, Brett Favre going to the Minnesota Vikings would beat them all.

In fact, if Brett Favre signs with the Minnesota Vikings it would be one of the biggest stories in sports history and--unlike many of the other "biggest" stories--it would actually deserve to be. Favre played 16 seasons with Green Bay. He is the icon of icons in Wisconsin. Take the way people feel about Barry Sanders in Detroit and multiply it by ten and that is the way people feel about Favre in Wisconsin. He stands (or he stood) alone as the sports icon in the state. Contrast that to Detroit where five or ten athletes share icon status none really more than the other. Green Bay fans are perhaps the most loyal and rabid fans in sports. The Packers are the only franchise in professional sports to be publically owned and they are owned by their season ticketholders. Every Packers game has been sold out since 1960. There is a 35-year waiting list to get season tickets. There are 74,000 people on the waiting list which is more than the capacities of 25 of the 31 NFL stadiums. Brett Favre is (or was) the epicenter of that fandom.

Of the 31 NFL teams, there are exactly two franchises that Favre could play for that would absolutely enrage Cheeseheads alike: the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings. The fact that Favre is even contemplating playing for the Vikings is drama in itself. The 24-hour Favre-cycle on ESPN certainly qualifies as overkill to the extreme. I could absolutely do without the false and repetitive reporting from the media and the lies and half-truths from Favre. In fact, I don't want to hear another media story about Favre unless it begins with, "Brett Favre has officially announced..." The incessant media coverage of basically nothing--I mean has anything actually been substantiated since this whole Favre-to-Minnesota began?--has gotten so ridiculous that reports don't even last a day before being refuted by other reports. One minute Yahoo! is reporting that Favre has not met with Brad Childress and that he is definitely retired for good; the next minute someone else is reporting that Favre is sending his medical information to the Vikings. One minute a report surfaces that Favre is set to undergo surgery with Dr. James Andrews this week only to be followed by a report hours later saying that Favre has most definitely decided against surgery and will rehab. That stuff is obnoxious and as much as the media is at fault for sensationalizing things far too often, Favre is ultimately responsible for these reports because he doesn’t tell the truth. Instead of getting the truth, we’re forced to listen to story after non-credible story claiming to be “breaking news.” That sort of thing is why so many sports fans have become disenchanted with ESPN and it’s also the reason why—despite being one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time—nobody cares about Favre anymore. I am 100% on board with all of the criticism directed at Favre for creating the circus atmosphere.

However, there is a huge distinction between the circus drama that everyone hates so much and the drama of Favre actually suiting up and stepping under center for the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field. That would be the single greatest sports traitor moment in professional sports history. A report surfaced recently that Favre is still fuming at the Packers for running him off and that he’ll do whatever it takes to stick it to them. He wouldn’t just be signing with a hated rival, he would be doing it on purpose simply to exact revenge. That's just cold. There have been other players who have played for rivals (Roger Clemens, Johnny Damon, Chris Chelios, Deion Sanders, Terrell Owens, and even Babe Ruth) but none can touch the drama that Favre to Minnesota would generate. The only one that is even close is Roger Clemens who despite being a huge crowd favorite in Boston never reached the status of Favre in Green Bay. Don’t get me wrong, Clemens going to New York was huge. In fact, unless Favre actually does play for Minnesota, Clemens-to-the-Yankees is probably the incumbent #1 traitor moment in sports history. Like Favre, Clemens was unceremoniously thrown to the curb by management. However, Clemens didn’t start pitching for the Yankees until 2.5 years after he was shown the door by the Red Sox. Favre reportedly began speaking with the Vikings even while he was still a Packer! The Packers were hell bent on filing tampering charges against Minnesota last year when reports surfaced that Favre had spoken to Brad Childress about playing in Minnesota. The very thought of Favre playing in Minnesota freaked out Green Bay so much that when they finally made a deal to send Favre to the NY Jets, they included a clause that would heavily punish the Jets to the tune of three first round draft picks if they turned around and traded him to Minnesota. All of this makes Favre-to-Minnesota the biggest double cross in sports history. Just to clarify: I'm not taking sides. The best part is that there's no need to. Just sit back and watch it all unfold.

The “icing on the cake” here is that everyone knows Favre can still play. It’s not like he’ll be an old gunslinger with one bullet left in his chamber playing out his last days in Minnesota. The Vikings would immediately become one of the top two or three favorites to reach the Super Bowl out of the NFC. Minnesota has needed a top-tier quarterback almost as long as the Detroit Lions. The Vikings are already very close to being a Super Bowl contender. In 2008, they had the best rush defense in the NFL and the 5th best rush offense in the NFL. That’s generally a recipe for the Super Bowl. Except, the Vikings are missing one thing: consistency at quarterback. In 2008, the Vikings were 25th in the NFL in passing yardage and 24th in completion percentage. Favre would only need to play as well as he did for the Packers in ’07 and the Jets for the first half of ’08 to give Minnesota exactly what it needs to be a true Super Bowl contender. Green Bay—on the other hand—pushed Favre out the door because it wanted to move in a different direction. The twisted irony of Favre playing in a Super Bowl for one of Green Bay’s two hated rivals after being pushed out the door is something usually saved for movie scripts. The fact that year one of the Aaron Rodgers era featured a seven-win drop-off only makes Favre’s possible return to the NFC North even more incendiary.

Anyhow, I realize I’m probably the only person in the known-universe (maybe there's an unknown planet somewhere out there full of creatures who absolutely worship the idea of Favre playing for the Vikings) hoping this happens but I’m enthusiastically rooting for Favre to sign with Minnesota. Not because I hate the Packers or love the Vikings—neither are true—but because as much as I love sports, I equally love unforced, unplanned, and unsolicited drama. Go Lions!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I Have been a Vikings Fan my whole life and I have watched Favre do his magic in green Bay for all the 16 yrs... One HUGE thing that was left out was that Favre beat all NFL teams except one....the Green Bay Packers...and the only reason the Vikings were only 5th in rush offense is because Peterson was covered 8 men in the box and with Favre teams could not afford to do that....I am all for it.


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