Unless you live an entirely media-free life (in which case you would not be reading this), you’ve heard the latest Brett Favre news. Doctors have told the Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback that, if he is to return for a 20th professional season, he will require surgery on his left ankle.
According to several reports, Favre is confronted with a choice: Either have the procedure and return to the Vikings, or retire and put an end to his 19-year NFL career. The three-time NFL Most Valuable Player is reported to be weighing his options.
Favre’s ankle, injured in the 2009 NFC Championship Game, is still swollen, and still hurts. He has sent test results to the famed orthopedic surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, who has opined that Favre cannot play without the operation.
"We have spoken,'' Favre said in an e-mail. "To play again, I would need the surgery, as I suspected. This decision would be easy if not for my teammates and the fans and the entire Vikings staff. One year truly felt like 10—much like Green Bay for many years. That's what I was missing in my heart I suppose, a sense of belonging.''
What does this sound like to you? Does it sound like Brett Favre has finally accepted the fact that not even he is immune to the ravages of age and is seriously considering retirement? Or does it sound like he is leaning the other way, considering yet another return, a legitimate shot at a Super Bowl, and a $12.5 million payday?
Sounds to me like he’ll be back. I think he’ll have the surgery, miss training camp (which he despises), and take one more whack at a Super Bowl victory. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
The thing that stands out most to me in this entire ordeal, though, is not Brett Favre’s health, or the difficult decision he must make over the next few months. What fascinates me is the fact that, in the NFL offseason, just after the much-publicized NFL Draft, with the NBA Playoffs in full swing, a 40-year-old quarterback still manages to garner such a large share of the sports headlines.
Radio host and Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Stephen A. Smith often refers to Brett Favre as a “media whore.”
I’m a big fan of Smith’s, and I listen to his intelligent bombast nearly every weekday on the radio. I usually agree with his take on things. But in this case, I believe Stephen A. is wrong.
Without a doubt, Favre loves attention. He is at the end of a stellar career, one that will place him among the top 10 professional quarterback of all time. He has been in the limelight for nearly his entire adult life, and he is holding on to it with his teeth and his fingernails.
But Brett Favre is not a media whore.
Brett Favre is a media pimp.
Let’s examine the pimp-whore dynamic for a moment. The pimp tells the whore where to go and what to do. The pimp uses the prostitute to increase his personal wealth. And if the whore steps out of line, the pimp exacts some punishment.
Brett Favre has led the media around by its nose for at least the past three years. He has told them where to go, and what to do when they get there. He has very likely used the media to increase his personal wealth. And if a reporter has the temerity to question Favre’s motives, the quarterback has no problem with cutting off the reporter’s access—which is tantamount to punishment.
Favre is not, by any means, the only media pimp in this country. Most members of that species seem to reside in the world of politics. Many people would argue that our President is one, and although I am one of a rapidly-dwindling number of Obama supporters, I’d have a hard time finding fault with that argument.
Media pimps are rare in the world of sports, but they do exist. Tiger Woods is one. Michael Jordan, even in retirement, is one.
Brett Favre is one.
Just you wait: this summer, Favre will have a surgical procedure on his ankle. He will show near the end of the Minnesota Vikings’ training camp. He will begin the regular season as the Vikings’ starting quarterback. And you’ll hear about every step he takes during this process, because the media will tell you all about it.
Iceberg Slim would be proud.