Go West, Brett Favre

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Go West, Brett Favre
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
My six-year-old son changes his obsessions more often than my father changes his underwear (which frankly isn’t nearly as often as the family would like). Just in the last few months, my son has gone from Yogi Bear to Scooby-Doo to SpongeBob to Charlie Brown.
The downside of this fickleness is that he is constantly asking for new toys, video games, and movies to match his new interests. The upside is that my wife and I never get too tired of any one character or show, and often he moves on faster than I want him too—hey, that SpongeBob is funny stuff.

Unfortunately, the new obsessions—Pokemon and Super Mario Bros.—are not nearly as entertaining as Mr. Square Pants. And to make matters worse, he’s not just into Super Mario Bros. the video game, but the early-'90s TV show, which of course is available on DVD. (Hey, not much isn’t.) 

Anyway, the other day he was watching an episode of Super Mario Bros., and I was flabbergasted to discover it was about Milli Vanilli, the disgraced pop duo whose career ended when it was discovered they did not actually sing on the multi-platinum album Girl You Know It’s True.

As my brain took a vacation from Mario and Luigi to reminisce about Milli Vanilli, I found myself suddenly thinking about the “retired” Brett Favre.

When Favre announced his second retirement in February, I was pleased and relieved. After his year with the New York Jets had come to a miserable end, I felt it was clear that Favre’s time had come and gone.

I was similarly pleased and relieved when the cover was blown off of Milli Vanilli’s vocal deceptions. Milli Vanilli’s time couldn’t come and go fast enough.

But then the highlight of the Milli Vanilli scandal happened: The bizarre press conference when the duo tried in vain to prove that they really could sing. They proved in about 1.5 seconds at that press conference that they couldn’t.

But the conference itself was a spectacle of which I wanted more of. Surely nowadays Vh1 would sign the two to a reality show, elongating the duo’s 15 minutes of fame, but in the early 1990s, it was harder to be famous without having actual talent, and Milli Vanilli was done for good.

Now comparing Brett Favre’s career to Milli Vanilli’s is like comparing my journalistic career to Woodward and Bermstein’s: It’s insulting and ridiculous.

But now that the story of Brett Favre coming out of retirement—again—to join the Minnesota Vikings is getting hotter, it’s clear to me that, like my unexplainable morbid fascination to see Milli Vanilli try to go legit, I have an unexplainable morbid fascination to see Brett Favre play for the Vikings.

Do I believe Brett Favre will launch yet another comeback to play for one of the Packers’ two biggest rivals? Six weeks ago I would have laughed at the notion. But six weeks ago I would have laughed at the notion of David Letterman getting married.

This we know: A year ago Favre wanted to play for Minnesota. Ted Thompson made sure that couldn’t happen. Ted Thompson can no longer prevent that from happening. Brett Favre hates Ted Thompson. Brett Favre is a massive competitor. Brett Favre also has a massive ego. 

Like a child who sneaks off to get a pre-dinner cookie after being told no, Favre would presumably love to sneak off and play for Minnesota now that Ted Thompson can no longer tell him no.

But I don’t believe that the chance to continue his personal battle with Thompson would be enough for Favre. But I do believe that the chance to end his career on a more positive note would be.

Favre’s last five weeks in 2008 were his worst stretch since the Packers’ awful 4-12 2005 campaign and were perhaps worse than that: Unlike in Green Bay, where Mike Sherman was the scapegoat for losing, Favre was the scapegoat in New York. 

The Jet teammates that Favre supposedly distanced himself from were publicly calling for his benching, a type of outcry that was unheard of in Green Bay, where, despite occasional setbacks, Favre was seen (along with Mike Holmgren) as the savior of a franchise that had been long dormant before his arrival.

Could Favre save the Vikings? Yes, at least for one season.

Favre could make a playmaker out of first round draft pick Percy Harvin (although the wide receiver’s NFL career is off to a bad start, as he was hospitalized less than a week after the draft for dehydration and a virus), and apart from shaky special teams play, the Vikings don’t really have any glaring holes outside of quarterback.

Vikings head coach Brad Childress may bear an uncanny resemblance to Mr. Noodle’s brother Mr. Noodle from Elmo’s World, but Childress is undoubtedly smarter than the wide-eyed dimwit who lives to perform simple tasks at the behest of a goldfish.

He knows that stubbornly sticking with the consistently disappointing Tarvaris Jackson and career backups like Gus Frerotte or new recruit Sage Rosenfels will eventually cost him his job.

Childress knows that Favre would, rightly or wrongly, bring immediate Super Bowl talk to the Twin Cities and, again at least for a season, end the ticket-selling problems the Vikings started to have last year, problems that admittedly could be blamed on the economy as much as on the team’s inept quarterback play.

Childress admitted at the Vikings’ rookie minicamp that the team would talk about pursuing Favre. “We talk about everything,” Childress said, insinuating that the conversations in Eden Prairie could also include what the heck is happening on Lost, whatever happened to the McDLT, and Miley Cyrus’s Twitter page.

Undoubtedly one of the major negatives for Childress in bringing Favre on—if Favre was indeed open to the possibility—would be the baggage that such a signing would bring.

Childress isn’t real good with the media, and Favre in purple would be the state’s biggest sports story since the Twins won the World Series in 1991, which happened just a few months before Favre was traded from the Atlanta Falcons to the Packers.

Look, I said my desire to see Favre play for the Vikings was an “unexplainable morbid curiosity.” But I’ll try to explain it anyway: To use Mike McCarthy’s and Ted Thompson’s words, the Packers have “moved on” with Aaron Rodgers

Statistically, Rodgers had a much better 2008 season than Favre, and while I’m not prepared to say that the team did the right thing in not welcoming Favre back with open arms, no one can now inarguably claim that the team made a major mistake by not doing so.  

Favre did not lead the Jets to the Super Bowl or even the playoffs, and Rodgers’s failings to do the same with the Packers last year more often than not had more to do with the bad situations his defense continually put him in than any poor play on his part. 

In short, Rodgers has proven himself worthy of the faith his bosses had in him and the Packers—and by extension, their fans—should no longer feel threatened by what Favre might bring to another NFL team, even one in their own division.

Could Favre be detrimental to the Vikings? Certainly. As he did in New York, Favre could alienate his purple teammates, anger his coach, downplay an injury that causes him to play poorly, and hinder the team’s long-term growth by delaying the development of a young quarterback. (Although Jackson’s had ample opportunity to indicate growth and he has not done so.)

Therefore, I don’t believe Favre playing for Minnesota negatively impacts the Packers while I also think his chances of screwing up the Vikings—especially in the bigger, development of players at the team’s most important position, picture—are nearly equally as great as his chances are for improving them.

I said earlier that if the Milli Vanilli scandal broke today, the duo would have their own reality show as they attempted their comeback. Favre in purple would be an equally bizarre reality show that would fascinate Packer Nation and Purple Pride alike, with the Vikings having much more to lose in the experiment than the Packers.

Brett, you keep trying to get out, but something, even the hated occupants of the NFL’s worst monstrosity of a stadium, keeps pulling you back in. If you want to heed the call of the Viking horn, go right ahead. You have my blessing.

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