Brett Favre and ESPN's Plan Of Global Dominance

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Brett Favre and ESPN's Plan Of Global Dominance
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Anybody who knows me knows that during the summer, I spend three glorious hours a week watching CBS’s Big Brother. I make no apologies for it, as I find the program endlessly entertaining.

 

However, this summer—thanks to a “gift” from DirecTV—I’ve been able to watch Showtime 2’s Big Brother After Dark, which is a nightly, three-hour unedited and uncensored live feed of the Big Brother house from 11 PM-2 AM CST.

After watching it for just a few minutes, it’s quite clear that Big Brother After Dark is the dullest program I’ve seen since The New Zoo Revue. I now have newfound respect for the loggers and editors of the CBS version of Big Brother.

Like those Big Brother editors, who every week perform a small miracle in filtering through endless hours of unwatchable material to pull out three hours of pure gold, I’ve sifted through endless games, highlights, and sports-related articles to bring you only the most interesting weekly (OK, give or take a few days) news. 

So here we go: 


1. Brett Favre

A few months ago, I wrote several blogs about Favre’s possible return to the NFL to play for the Vikings. I eventully got complaints from some readers that my blog had too much Favre, similar to my doctor telling me that my diet had too much soda. So I eased up on both.

What happened? Page views for my non-Favre blogs dropped and I turned into a narcoleptic from caffeine withdrawal. So from here on out, it’s all Favre and all soda all the time!

Anyway, there is now some spectulation that Favre, who weeks ago seemed poised to become the best old-fart Vikings quarterback since Randall Cunningham, is having second (or third, fourth, or fifth) thoughts.

ESPN reported that if it wasn’t for potential teammates Steve Hutchison, Adrian Peterson, and Jared Allen encouraging him via text messages to join the team, he might already have decided to stay retired. (I’m impressed that the 39-year-old Favre knows how to text; I’m younger and I have no idea.)

So what’s the hold up? Favre’s surgically-repaired throwing arm apparently feels fine, his throwing motion since the surgery (according to Vikings coach Brad Childress) is good, the Vikings obviously want him, and it’s doubtful that Favre’s competitive fire has completely extinguished over the last couple of weeks.

Methinks that with the physical obstacle cleared (mostly, I’m sure last year’s performance has Favre still wondering whether he can actually withstand another 16 weeks of games), Favre is now finally contemplating the obvious question of "can I really play for the Vikings?"

Nevermind that the Packers front office has given Favre their blessing, nevermind that most Packers fans have moved on to "Mister Rodgers’ Neighborhood", never mind that the Vikings system seems a perfect fit for Favre, never mind that Favre says that playing for Minnesota is no big deal, that "it’s just football." 

I believe Favre is seriously contemplating his legacy and is finally realizing that playing for the Vikings is not only a big deal but also a double-edged sword; if he can take the team to the Super Bowl (remember, the Vikings somehow managed a trip to the postseason last year despite being saddled with the two-headed goofball machine of Gus Frerotte and Tavaris Jackson at QB), then he will be the toast of the Twin Cities and Packer Nation will burn his enemy Ted Thompson in effigy for letting Favre go.

If Favre bombs in rival Minnesota, then the return will be a lifelong embarrassment for him and he will go to his grave enduring jokes about it, similar to how people still make fun of Shelley Long for leaving Cheers or deride John Travolta for his series of talking baby movies.

I still say Favre puts on his purple jersey and plays—his decision is expected to come no later than July 30, the day that the Vikings open training camp—but I was wrong about the timing of his original retirement and I was wrong about the Packers taking him back when he changed his mind a year ago. I wouldn't be surprised to be wrong again.

2. ESPN Conquers World

I read with interest this piece regarding the growth of ESPN’s local Web sites. According to the article, it has taken only three months for ESPN Chicago to become Chicago’s most popular sports Web site, and ESPN will soon add new sites focusing on New York, Dallas, and Los Angeles sports, with more to come.

Now, I love ESPN. I watch games on ESPN, I get much of my sports happenings from ESPNews, and I listen to multiple ESPN podcasts every week (PTI is just as good audio-only, and of course, there’s no commercials). But I also hate ESPN. More precisely, I hate its power. (Put in Big Brother 11 terms, ESPN is the "athletes’ clique" of the house.)

While plans apparently aren’t in the works for an “ESPN Wisconsin” Web site, you’d have to think that if the New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas sites are as successful as the Chicago site has been, then the self-proclaimed “Worldwide Leader In Sports” would have Wisconsin high up on its Web expansion list.

Why? Well, living here, we know that the passion that Wisconsinites have for the Badgers, Packers, and Brewers is unparalleled. And we also know how special our relationships to our teams are. Well, ESPN knows it too: Recently ESPN The Magazine released their annual "Ultimate Standings" of sports franchises, in which teams were ranked on how much they “give back to the fans.”

In the standings, both the Brewers (at seventh) and Packers (at 13th) ranked in the top 15; Pittsburgh was the only sports market to have two franchises ranked higher. (Yes, I’m counting "Wisconsin" as a single sports market, and no, these rankings did not rate collegiate teams.)

So Wisconsin seems like an ideal location for ESPN to target with one of its "local" sites. Here’s where I get all indignant and rally for my readers to support their local sports columnists and reporters, which I unwaveringly do. Trouble is, due to recent cuts, there are less local sports columnists and reporters to support.

Do you live in Madison and want to read a local reporter’s take on the Milwaukee Brewers, one of the most fervently-supported franchises in all of baseball? Sorry, since laying off long-time reporter Vic Feuerherd earlier this year, the Wisconsin State Journal can only offer up generic AP stories. (I know several fans that would probably submit more compelling recaps for free.)

As a fan of several Wisconsin sports reporters and columnists, I hope that any inroads ESPN may attempt to make in supplying so-called “local” coverage here will be met with either indifference or outright anger. But what ESPN wants, ESPN usually gets. And Wisconsin media outlets may not be able or willing to offer much resistance.

3. UFL Misunderstood, Still Lame

In my last entry, I mocked the United Football League for being a colossal waste of time and money. Since then I heard a very interesting interview (yes, on an ESPN podcast. Damn it!) with the commissioner of the UFL who crystalized the goals of the league.

Instead of working against the NFL (which he acknowledged was a losing battle), he said the league will be working in tandem with the NFL in terms of developing talent and providing a place for second-tier players (like J.P. Losman, who recently signed up) to acquire more playing time.

Makes sense. I still won’t be watching.

4. Erin Andrews

Speaking of ESPN, this Erin Andrews peephole Internet video blather reminds me of why I have a love/hate relationship with the Internet similiar to my relationship with ESPN. 

Like most people, I can now no more imagine life without the Internet then I can imagine life without the microwave or indoor plumbing. But the power of the Internet to destroy someone’s privacy is scary. But not as scary as Joyce DeWitt’s mug shot, pictured below.

Tell Mr. Furley I Used This Months Rent For Bail Money!

Tell Mr. Furley I Used This Month's Rent For Bail Money!

Oh, before I go, Monday (July 27) is my thirteenth wedding anniversary. Thanks for putting up with me for thirteen great years, Keri. Your patience is remarkable. Happy anniversary.

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