Remember that upon his election, former Governor Jesse Ventura, perhaps one of the most colorful and controversial figures in Minnesota history, promised to "put Minnesota on the map," which he did with various moonlighting jobs and other non-governmental appearances.
That is precisely what Minnesota's newest and latest celebrity is doing with his latest charade of "will he or won't he?" drama. Both men love the camera and can't get enough of it—or themselves, so it seems.
I'm not one of those people who is tired of the drama. On the contrary, as a Vikings fan, I love it. Not only does it directly benefit me, but it brings attention that my team would otherwise not receive in a state usually referred to as "hick," or "flyover land on the frozen tundra."
Favre brings swagger to a state observered by outsiders and the big-city driven national media as simple, with few frills.
Think of it as LeBron James signing with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Suddenly the media cares about and pays attention to you. Only in the NFL, with its true parity and salary cap, could this ever happen. In baseball terms, it would be like Derek Jeter signing with the Minnesota Twins. When it comes to the NFL, there is no bigger star.
Prettyboy Tom Brady?
Please. He's a media creation and teen heartthrob.
He's a marketing machine forced upon the fans.
Favre plays for the love of the game, and besides, he's been doing it far longer than either of those cosmopolitan punks. And even if he weren't doing this for my team, I'd still follow the Favre story. He's that damn interesting.
When he went to the Jets, I laughed at how the guy couldn't walk away and how he just might play until he turned 50. In 2001 he signed what was assuredly (at the time) a lifetime contract with the hated Green Bay Packers. Had that contract been binding he'd be on the final year of it. Amazing.
If he were playing games with the Buffalo Bills, one of the NFL's most lowly teams, I'd still want him to come back because I find it hilarious how he not only defies all logic on the field, but clearly still plays and defies Father Time as well. The fact that he's doing it for my team is simply just a bonus.
When he finally does call it quits (whenever that may be, no one will believe him) it will be a sad day. And if it happens next year, or if it had been after last year, I would not have been one of those fans who felt cheated.
I would not have asked "what are we supposed to do now?" because I would have enjoyed the one season he gave us; I would wish for those memories to last for as long as possible, trumped only when we finally win it all.
In discussing the latest "breaking news" yesterday of the farce that was the latest "retirement talk" with a friend, we both immediatley brushed it off for several reasons:
First, when Brett Favre offically does retire, after opening the 2015 season in (hopefully) brand-new Mall of America Field in one of Minneapolis' suburbs, the media and all its hype will not follow him back to tiny Kiln, "No wait, I'm from Hattisburg" Mississippi.
Sure, he could always do another tired "reality show" like everyone else (and likely will) but by that point, hopefully America will have moved on to its next mind-numbing fad.
Everyone knows Brett loves the media. He loves to use it, and he knows how to, very well. He can't get enough of it and the feeling is mutual. Finally, you can only plant so much cotton or ride a tractor so many times for the rest of your life before that gets old.
What's another season for the rest of your life? I think Favre's afraid to retire because he has nothing to go back home to. Football is his life and to his credit he's clearly exceptional at it, and can still play, so why not continue to do what you love.
Second, Favre could never live with himself if he walked away from this ready-built team
Its not often in life when you can find an NFL team willing to bend over backwards to do everything for you and he's found that with the Minnesota Vikings.
As cool as it is to see him in purple and gold (still doesn't look right) should the team "struggle" to "just" a 10-6 season, as I'd predict without him, I think he feels he owes it to his high-flying team mates and offense built perfectly for him to give it another try.
If he succeeds and brings the team their first National championship, his legacy grows even more. Its well worth the risk.
Plus, can you imagine his embarrassment if, say, Tavaris Jackson, his replacement, was able to "manage the game" enough to win the Superbowl with the team that he forfeited?
He'd never live it down.
I'm thinking 2000 Ravens by the way: terriffic defense, good special teams, and an explosive runner, not to mention a stellar offensive line (as always). Jackson would serve the role of Trent Dilfer, which even he should be able to do.
And third, don't forget about Favre's competative nature
When I first heard the news of his latest retirment, I immediately responded to friends that aren't Vikings fans (and some that are) with "I'll believe it when I see it. Even [former team mate] Antonio Freeman who was on ESPN First Take didn't believe him and neither do I."
Do you really think that he could sit still on his couch in week one or two knowing his team mates were out there without him? (especially if they actually needed him should they get off to a 1-2 or 0-2 start which is unlikely).
Upon hearing the news we joked how he doesn't want to do training camp, which is common knowledge by now. Fine. Take a few weeks off. Then I added "Get back to me if he's not here by week 3"
See, I was even willing to give him not only all of training camp, but the entire pre-season, and even a few of the first regular season games. Why? Competative spirit.
There is a reason he signed a two-year deal last year.
Maybe a fall back plan in case 2009 didn't go as well as hoped and he could have a second chance to ride off into the sunset victorious?
Did you really think his last pass would be, could be , "that one?"
How could he live with that for the rest of his life?
A friend pointed out to me that he believes Favre hadn't been in the news a lot this summer (save for the ESPY's, and who really watches that crap, anyway?) so perhaps leaking a text or two—or perhaps starting a rumor—would be a way for him to slide back into the news as a way of saying "Hey, don't forget me, (and to a much lesser extent, my team) I'm still here!"
We concluded that he may have done this after seeing a bit too much time spent talking about the new Bengals and the fact that with camps starting to open up, he wanted to get back into the discussion.
All about timing.
Even before today's back-tracking, I noted that he would probably leak a report a few weeks later that "the ankle's feeling better but its still not there yet, and (when asked) "What does that mean? What does it matter, I mean, you are retired, right?" he'd smile a bit and reply with a smirk, "We'll see."
Well, that would sure send the ESPN hype machine into a buzz, exactly how he wanted it. All part of the game. Yesterday and today are just two more pieces in the chess match of life and when its all said and done, Minnesota will have captured her Vi-King.
All part of the game.
References from ESPN and ESPN First Take were used in the formation of this article.