Thursday, August 27, 2009

Favre Fumbles Finale

Sports, after all, are forms of entertainment. For youngsters, the activities provide fun and promote health. At college and professional levels, sports generate diversions from the trials of the real world for millions of fans. For some, that probably is healthy, too.

No athlete over the past two decades has been more entertaining than Brett Favre. Whether you loved or hated the “kid” with the mighty arm and faulty judgment, he made some amazing plays on the gridiron. His daredevil approach sold a lot of tickets and piles of merchandise for the Packers, and also for their competitors in the National Football League. His country boy demeanor off the field, which now appears to have been faked, endeared him to young and old.

As a Packer fan since 1947, I had to love a guy who ended a 25-year string of mostly mediocre seasons and made Green Bay a proud football place once again. Favre was the biggest factor in a Super Bowl victory and a string of winning records. Nevertheless, I don’t have to love him anymore, and I don’t.

Most Packer fans forgave their idol when he started making an annual event out of hogging headlines as he agonized (his word) over leaving the game he claimed to love. We so appreciated his earlier positive contributions that we could overlook the juvenile negative situations he created in his final years of “will he, or won’t he, play next season.”

It was even OK with me when Favre came out of what looked like a real retirement for a try at one more championship with the New York Jets. Pro football is a business, and the quarterback had a right to seek a new employer in the twilight of his career. The problem is how he went about it. After double-dealing the Packers with a phony retirement announcement, he double-crossed the Jets with a “retirement” designed to get him a release so he could head to Minnesota, where prospects of a championship were better. Then he even cheated his new Viking teammates by coyly stalling the deal until the rigors of summer practice sessions no longer could affect him.

For a Packer fan, an aging local hero going to a team outside the “black and blue division” wasn’t much of a problem. But going to the Vikings is something like ex-Yankee great Yogi Berra coming out of retirement to signal pitches for the Boston Red Sox.

To the many records Favre holds he now can lay claim to the title of biggest liar, manipulator, and sell-out artist in the history of pro football. Oh sure, he’ll get into the NFL Hall of Fame fairly soon. He earned that with his achievements on the field. With his recent failures off the field, however, he is pretty well assured of a spot in the Hall of Shame. There he can join Pete Rose (I really didn’t bet that much), Michael Vick (Hide Your Beagle, Vick’s An Eagle), and other “heroes” who leave a lot to be desired as role models for our youngsters

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