October 30, 2007
First things first… How excited are you for American Gangster coming out this Friday?! Denzel Washington has already entered into what I call “Morgan Freeman territory”.
That’s the place that an actor/actress reaches after creating a body of work so extensive and so impressive that you just get to a place where it doesn’t matter what the movie is, you’ll just go see it. I’d pay the $10.75 to go watch Denzel make a ham sandwich at this point. It’s named after Morgan Freeman who is the inaugural member of this Hall of Fame. I mean really…he was the narrator for a movie that featured penguins walking across a block of ice and won an Academy award… enough said.
This list is a prestigious one for me, and thus, a short list. It includes the following:
Morgan Freeman himself
That’s it. That’s the list. There are several who are knocking on the door but there are certain things keeping them off the list; Ashley Judd (went to Kentucky and Double Jeopardy), Tom Cruise (MI:3), Halle Berry (Catwoman, Perfect Stranger). And another handful of performers who have just made so much money that they just make movies to keep busy and to entertain themselves and as a result have been in some REAL stink bombs lately, so they get the “check the number two actor label”. They are: DeNiro, Pacino, and Samuel L. Jackson.
I was reminded of this list on Monday night while watching the Packers vs. Broncos game. I didn’t watch the game the whole way through. I actually didn’t watch much of it at all. I don’t care for either team all that much… I had no Fantasy football players involved and neither did my opponent this week… and I am a devout Heroes watcher on Monday nights now.
As I have mentioned, my fiancée goes to be earlier than I do typically and went to bed right after Heroes. Of course, I laid in bed and flipped between the end of the game and Journeyman.
It hit me while watching the game… Brett Favre, while not an actor, makes the “Morgan Freeman list”. There’s so much going on in the NFL this year, the Patriot cheating scandal, the stink fest that is the Rams and Dolphins (and my Jets), the Chargers and Bears disappointments, the Patriots domination (there’s a theme here), the complete and utter disarray and madness going on with the consensus Top 10 fantasy football players stinking out the joint, and the Patriot “point stacking” scandal (is that what you’d call the opposite of point shaving?).
We haven’t had the chance to step back and appreciate the wonder that is Brett Favre (after a usual scenario of jumping up yelling “what a play!!” as she tries to sleep. I swear she breaks the remote over my face in her dreams every Sunday and Monday night).
I know. It’s been written about. Lord knows, the guys in the Monday night booth, John Madden and Frank Caliendo never let us forget about Favre. Maybe it’s because he’s been doing the retirement yo-yo the past couple of seasons. Maybe we’re spoiled. But it feels like we haven’t really paid our respects to number four.
As you know the game ended on an 82-yard TD pass from Favre to Greg Jennings (who has been picked up and dropped from one of my fantasy teams 756 times in his two years in the league…) and my brain went loco when he ran into the end zone and Mike Tirico said these eight words:
“Packers win and go to 6 and 1”
6 and 1? Really?! The Green Bay Packers?! In 2007?! How did this happen?!?!
This was supposed to be the season Favre threw 22 TDs and 18 INTs, broke Dan Marino’s career TD record and rode off on a horse into the sunset. He’s already a hero, but if he could get this team to 7-9 or 8-8 this season, we’d look at him like he was a miracle worker. 6 and 1?!?!?
Then it hit me as clear as day: Brett Favre MUST save this season.
Meanwhile, in Foxboro… We’ve heard all of the comparisons to the Patriots. Sith Lords. Darth Vader. Bullies. Cobra Kai. Names like Beelzebub and words like Evil have been used to describe them. And it’s abundantly clear that they have a chip on their shoulder.
Scoring at will and scoring late in games that are already out of reach. I mean c’mon, they put up 52 points on poor ol’ Joe Gibbs and his boys this past week. If that doesn’t bring memories of Darth Vader chopping down Obi Wan Kenobi and then stepping on his robe to make sure he finished the job, I don’t know what does. (By the way, if I just spoiled the end of Star Wars for you… shame on you for not having seen it yet. What the heck are you waiting for?)
They are the late 80’s/early 90’s Miami Hurricanes football program. They are the guards in the first half of The Longest Yard. They are Vikings pillaging and burning everything in sight. They are the cloud of anti-matter devouring planets in the Crisis on Infinite Earths comic book series (sorry… nerd moment). They are Tupac in the”Hit ‘em up” song. They are Hurricane Andrew and a Tsunami all wrapped up into one.
After years of being everything that was right about the NFL and sports for that matter; they suddenly have a huge chip on their shoulder of this cheating scandal they’ve been implicated in and are out to prove, “OK. No cameras. No stealing signs. You questioned our 3 championships? We’re gonna kick everybody’s ass up and down the field and don’t care who we upset because you can’t do anything about it!”
They are by leaps and bounds the best team in football this year and probably since the 1989 San Francisco 49’ers. They have arguably the best QB in the league. And under no circumstances can they win the Super Bowl.
I won’t go too far into it, but the message it will send to kids about sportsmanship will be terrible. The other players and owners in the league will have a hard time rooting for them in any form or fashion.
The fans in the New England area will be completely insufferable (Red Sux just won the World Series, Pats, the Celtics upcoming Eastern conference title and Boston College is ranked #2 in the BCS), and they will spend all off season thumbing their nose at everyone saying, “We told you so! We told you so! We were disrespected and everyone thought we were cheaters!”
The problem is… because they’re the best team (by far), and because they play the right “style” of game. They SHOULD win. Which brings us to good ole number four.
He is the only player EVERYONE can get behind. He wasn’t supposed to do anything of consequence competitively this year. You can’t name his running backs (unless you’re a Gator fan!). And all of the sudden, he’s 6-1!
While some would argue that Tony Dungy, Peyton Manning and the Colts are an easy team to get behind, they just won last year. They also play in the same conference, leaving is with that terrible “AFC championship game is really the Super Bowl” thing going on again. Whoever wins the AFC will be playing a sub-par team in the Super Bowl. If you look at the NFCs best teams they are underwhelming:
Dallas Cowboys: Too many people despise them and won’t get behind them.
New York Giants: Just a loathsome group of individuals that only play well when they’re fighting amongst each other.
Detroit Lions: I just laughed out loud typing that.
Whoever wins the NFC West: As significant as the WAC in the BCS rankings
Green Bay Packers: They have number four. The all time NFL touchdown passing record holder as well as the all time wins leader.
Here are five reasons EVERYONE would get behind Brett Favre:
Deanna Favre: Brett’s wife. You probably recognized the name when you read it. For goodness sake, she has her own Wikipedia page.
I say Deanna Favre, not just because of her, but we know Brett’s family. We know about his humble beginnings in Kiln, Mississippi. We know Deanna was diagnosed with breast cancer just 3 years ago and has thrived. We know Brett’s brother in law died in an ATV accident shortly before they found out about Deanna’s illness. And we know Brett’s father passed away the day before a Monday Night Football game vs. the Oakland Raiders a couple year’s ago… a game in which Brett threw 4 TDs and an almost flawless game.
We know his family so well that we feel for him when they are in trouble. It’s also intriguing that under no standard is Deanna an athlete’s “trophy wife”. She’s always seemed like your everyday attainable woman, yet beautiful enough to be the QB’s gal. Kind of like the Secretary of student government dating the star QB in high school.
He’s a recovering alcoholic/addict: Brett Favre stood before the world and told everyone that he was addicted to painkillers from years of abuse to his body in the NFL. As a result, he had to kick the painkillers, but also had to stop drinking beer after games, and altogether.
He comes off as “one of us”. He could very well be your star athlete high school friend that tore up his knee jumping out of a moving car or his girlfriend’s window when her Dad came home. As time wears on, he becomes more and more human to us.
The records: This season, he became the most prolific touchdown passer in the history of the league, passing the legendary Dan Marino. Marino, who is insanely competitive and never won a Super Bowl in his career, so he ONLY has the records to hold on to, found a way to be happy for Favre and publicly congratulate him.
Favre also passed the legend and possibly the greatest QB the game has seen, John Elway in regular season wins. When asked what it was like, Favre said, “I don’t know how a quarterback is the only position on the field that gets credited with wins. How come I get any more credit for this than say a center or guard or running back”?
The on-field demeanor: One of my telltale sign of if a QB is worth his salt is, when he throws a TD, how he acts afterwards. In a young QBs first couple of seasons, they can get away with throwing it and sprinting down to the end zone with his hands in the air to celebrate. At season three, they should head to the sideline and congratulate the receiver later, or on a short TD throw, jog over and congratulate, then get off the field.
Example: Joey Harrington still sprints down field like he just won the Rose Bowl on every TD he throws. This is unacceptable. Somehow, Favre still gets away with this. He sprints down to the end zone (much slower than he used to…) and jumps up and down like an undrafted free agent playing in his first game. Somehow, it’s ok. He runs around like a little kid, head butts defensive linemen, throws blocks on reverses… He has always played in the way that we say we would if we ever had the talent and opportunity.
The T-shirt: Favre does his post game interviews in a white t-shirt. Most interviews you see, a player is in a suit (sometimes with 8 or 9 buttons and a Fedora) or dress jacket and buttoned up shirt. Favre is always in either a sweatshirt of some sort or a t-shirt.
I’ve always asked, “Is it because he’s knocking out these interviews before he gets dressed?’ or, “Is he ALREADY dressed and that’s what he’s wearing to go home?” I’ve always had this feeling that Favre plays the 1:00pm game, showers and does his interviews, stops by Lowe’s on the way home and then works on the yard and plays football with his girls before doing a terrible job at helping Deanna with Sunday dinner.
By going 6-1 in the first 7 games this season, Brett Favre has given us hope. Hope that someone will stand up to the Patriots. Hope that someone will fight back and never be intimidated by their high flying antics. Hope that someone will actually watch the Super Bowl should New England make it there.
Favre is a legend in his own time. By winning it all this year, he would become Rocky Balboa. He would be David, taking out Goliath with a single stone (and no running game to speak of). He would be Hickory high taking out South Bend in Hoosiers. He would be Maximus Meridius in Gladiator taking on the Germanian Barbarians. In order to beat the Patriots this season, it’s going to take the collective force of nearly an entire country rooting for “the other guy”.
Brett Favre IS that other guy. He is every one of us. He IS must see TV. He is the guy EVERYONE can get behind. He is our American Gangster. Now if we can just get Morgan Freeman to do the play-by-play…
Thanks for reading! Check in soon for my upcoming articles about the SEC tournament, followed by running coverage of my trip to the NCAA tournament opening rounds in Denver.