And so it goes. Roger Goodell, like an archbishop or cardinal shuttling a naughty priest off to the next parish, stalls on any action on the Brett Favre/Jenn Sterger investigation until the statute of limitations runs out tomorrow (the deadline for Sterger to legally file sexual harassment charges against the Jets and Favre), simply staying conspicuously quiet.
With no legal action filed, the league is under no obligation to act quickly or at all, even under the recent public pressure from Sterger’s representatives.
It is clear that Goodell is sweeping this issue under the rug and waiting to release a smartly crafted, general statement that while the league feels that Favre may have acted inappropriately, the NFL could find no clear proof of harassment, in a case in which there was possible contact to Favre back from Sterger and without her protesting or filing charges leaves no alternative but to end the investigation with a public disapproval of Favre’s actions, but no fine or suspension.
Why take so long? Again, the statute of limitations deadline is one reason. More conspicuous is that by taking no action long after NFL Security Chief Milt Ahlerich concluded his findings and sent them to Goodell, the NFL’s top priority is not harming one of its preeminent cash cows and favorite sons with a suspension or fine so close to what is obviously the end of his playing career.
It is an interesting paradox when you consider how quickly Goodell has acted in other matters of player conduct.
So, look for this issue to be a footnote in an exciting playoff season. While the postseason teams vault into action in their efforts to win the Lombardi Trophy, Favre will quietly limp home to his estate in Hattiesburg with a Charlie Rangle-type censure that bears no teeth to deal with his demons in private.
Favre for eternity will most likely state that he is glad he gave it one more shot for the 2010 season, probably waxing that he will never have to wonder, “What if?” Football fans around the world will ask the same question about Favre’s return from the opposite angle. “What if Favre had retired after his best statistical season and because he was done, the Sterger issue never arose to embarrass him and his family…not to mention all those injuries this year?”
I am reminded of the quote by George Stephanopoulos, expressing his final thought about Bill Clinton at the end of his tell-all book, "All Too Human." It rings true for me when considering Brett Favre by simply changing the word president to quarterback:
“Wondering what might have been if only this good quarterback had been a better man.”
One thing will remain in the record books for quiet some time. Brett Favre is the most prolific quarterback in NFL history. As time passes, this last season will become more of a footnote.