To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld, in the free agency era of sports we are all really just cheering for laundry. By that he meant that we cheer for the people wearing our team’s uniforms, regardless of who they are - or were. With the recent addition to the Minnesota Vikings - my favorite team - that has become … problematic for some of our fans.
There is no question Brett Favre is a great quarterback; he likely is in the top 10 all-time. There is also no question that he will make this team better than they were without him. Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson are not exactly “household names”. So why all the confliction and angst among Vikings fans?
Many on the outside looking in believe it is merely because he played for the hated Green Bay Packers. But, ultimately, what difference does that make? Ryan Longwell (career leader in points for the Pack - look it up) is our kicker; Darren Sharper spent a few highly productive seasons in our defensive backfield after a great career in Green Bay. Both were welcomed here with open arms and their loyalty was never questioned. So what’s different about Favre?
To answer that question, you need only to have viewed the full onslaught of national media types that followed him to town. Satellite trucks from NFL Network, ESPN, FOX Sports, et al, are taking up space at the Vikings facility at Winter Park. Even the local media got in on the act by following him from the airport by helicopter.
Minnesotans are a shy, reticent group by nature. Seeking the spotlight is met with distaste or even disdain. To have Favre here now - in full view of every flash bulb, microphone and television camera in town - is, in a colloquialism, offputting.
And really, that’s what our argument against Favre has always been. Sure, he played against us but he was never that successful (17-15 vs. the Vikings for his career). But the sickening levels of adulation that followed his every movement, the utter dismissal of his foibles and poor decisions, THAT is what drove us to hate him.
Look, I’m sure he “loves to play the game” - a quote I’ve heard about him more times than I’ve heard about Terrel Owens being a cancer. But does he have to prove it by throwing more interceptions than anyone else in history?
I’ll never forget the Monday Night Football game where he played even though his father passed away the day before. One of the receivers was quoted as saying, “We all agreed before the game that we were going to catch whatever he threw to us.” Seriously? Isn’t that the plan regardless?
Ridiculous statements like that permeate the career of #4. When he threw a ball underhand rather than take a hit on the playing field, it was because he was a “gunslinger”. When he cowardly dove to the turf under Michael Strahan on an audibled bootleg - giving Strahan the sack record for a single season - everyone lauded his friendship with Strahan. Who was thinking about the offensive linemen (Favre’s teammates, by the way) who had not given up a sack to that point?
As I said, though, the Vikings will be better with him and I sincerely hope they win a trip to the Super Bowl. It’s been far too long since we were there. But cheering for Brett to succeed won’t come easy. I guess I’ll just have to cheer for the purple #4 instead.
About the author: Mark is the host of “Sports Jabber Radio” which can be heard live every Wednesday night at 10:00pm Eastern Time. You can also listen to archived shows at www.blogtalkradio.com/sports-jabber anytime.
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