As I sat in a local dining establishment here in Wisconsin eagerly awaiting LeBron James' decision on where to play in 2010, I couldn't help but feel a slight sense of deja vu.
Hell, all of Wisconsin should have felt the same thing.
As the night went on and I saw the first images of angry Clevelanders burning their LeBron jerseys, my mind flashed back to almost exactly one year ago.
At this point last summer, Brett Favre had decided to stay retired and not join the Minnesota Vikings, saying he didn't think his body could hold up for another grueling 16 game season.
We all know how that one turned out.
Favre came back.
Without warning, Favre flew to Minnesota and news helicopters were following the vehicle carrying him to Vikings training camp in Mankato. It was an absolute media circus that had never been seen before in professional sports.
Once word got out that Favre had indeed signed with the Vikings, Packer fans all over the world, but mainly in Wisconsin, reacted with indignation and Favre jerseys were burned in effigy all over the Badger State.
The date of Favre's return to Lambeau was circled on calendars. People were ready for war.
Look at the scene that is continuing to unfold in Cleveland. Any Packer fan can't help but think that they have seen this movie before, and this seems like a bigger but not necessarily better sequel.
The point? Favre set a bad example for LeBron without even knowing he was doing such a thing. I am not blaming Favre for LeBron's decision to leave Cleveland for Miami. That would be idiocy. Favre had nothing directly to do with this.
What I AM saying is that by screwing over fans who bowed at his very presence for many years and yet by still finding success, Favre undermined one of the biggest lessons student athletes are taught: loyalty. Favre came back last year to screw over the Packers and, specifically their general manager, Ted Thompson—and I don't believe any arguments to the contrary.
That's not loyalty. That's heartless.
Now look at this year's drama involving LeBron. James decided to take an hour of airtime on ESPN to announce what he is doing next season. An hour to do what should only take 15 minutes in a press conference. To me, LeBron saw how much attention Favre got last year and decided he had to do more.
He succeeded and is being ridiculed for it, just like Favre was last year. Who couldn't get enough of the Favre Watch/OJ Jeep Chase jokes? Unbeknown to him at the time, Favre opened a can of worms that no one saw coming.
It's important to know there are still very big differences between each situation. Favre won a world title, LeBron has not (yet). Favre is in the twilight of his career, LeBron is just entering his prime. Packers management handled the situation with the utmost class, Cavaliers ownership did not.
The Packers have a good successor in Aaron Rodgers, the Cavaliers not so much.
That said, Favre arguably is the face of the NFL. He was/is one of those rare athletes that transcend the game they play and maybe even all of pro sports.
Whether he likes it or not, Favre's actions and words have an effect on people he may not realize are listening. Like LeBron James.
Take heart, Cleveland. We in the Dairy State feel your pain. It hurts, but no one can predict the future. You may want to pummel him now, but still appreciate what he did while he was there.
Cheeseheads thought they were headed for the Dark Ages when Favre left. Turns out that may have been a bit premature.
Here's hoping the same for the Cavaliers and their fans.
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