Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Favre Needs to Stop Talking, Playing ‘Hamlet’; ESPN’s Gone Overboard

Well, here we go again with Brett Favre.

It’s still a week until training camps open and we’ve all got Favre Fatigue again. Seriously, wouldn’t it be great if there was a complete news blackout regarding Favre and if he shows up for the Minnesota Vikings training camp, great. If not, that’s great too. He certainly doesn’t need to announce his retirement if he doesn’t show up. He’s already done that about 14 times.

Look, as far as I’m concerned, Favre can play another 10 years if that’s what he wants to do and if there’s a team willing to pay him to do so. It’s his career, his body, his life and his legacy. It’s not up to me or you or anyone else to tell Favre or anyone else when to retire.

Unless you’ve been a great athlete—which I certainly haven’t been—I don’t think you can understand how hard it is to walk away. It isn’t just the money, it’s The Life. Mike Mussina said it well once when he talked about how much he would miss having a locker when he retired. “As long as you have a locker in a Major League clubhouse you feel like you’re part of something special,” he said. “It makes you feel special.”

Nolan Ryan talked about feeling invisible when he was on the Disabled List and knowing how much that feeling of not mattering anymore would increase when he couldn’t pitch anymore. Peter Boulware, an All-Pro linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, asked a simple question: “What else can I do in life where 70,000 people are going to stand up and cheer for me when I do my job?”

The answer, of course, is nothing. Favre’s no different. He’s one of the most revered athletes in history and he loves the way that feels. Who among us wouldn’t?

But here’s my problem with Favre: he needs to stop playing Hamlet. For five years in Green Bay he warbled through offseasons talking about retiring. Then he DID retire only to come back. He went through an embarrassing battle with the Packers, landed in New York and was a big part of the Jets collapse last season. Then he retired AGAIN—and the Jets took him at his word and released him—before turning around about 15 minutes later to say he might want to play in Minnesota.

I mean enough already.

Some of this is the fault of ESPN. I truly believe that ESPN is actually to blame for almost everything that is wrong in our society dating back to the kidnapping of The Lindbergh baby. ESPN is obsessed with everything NFL and everything Favre and wants us to believe it breaks every single story even when it doesn’t. If Favre sends back his steak in a restaurant because it isn’t cooked enough, ESPN is going to report it and give four of its reporters credit for breaking the story.

“Brett Favre tells waitress steak is too rare,” ESPN’s Ed Werder reports. “Favre tells ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that steak was only slightly under-cooked and he asked very politely if it could be put back on for, ‘just a minute or two.’ However, according to ESPN’s John Clayton, Favre said steak was, ‘almost raw.’”

That’s not as far fetched as it might sound. It sounds ridiculous for a reporter to say an athlete should talk less but this is an exception to the rule. Favre needs to stop talking until he gets to training camp. And I swear to God if he comes back and plays this year and then announced his retirement again next winter, the media shouldn’t write or say a word about it until he actually isn’t in uniform on the opening weekend of the 2010 season.

Even then you might want to wait another week to make sure someone doesn’t get a quarterback hurt the first weekend and sign him.

We all know that Favre isn’t even close to being the first athlete to retire and then have second thoughts. I’m still not completely convinced that Sugar Ray Leonard and Michael Jordan aren’t coming back again. Heck, Mark Spitz tried a comeback TWENTY years after Munich.

What’s a little different with Favre is the turnaround. It’s not as if he sat out a season and got, as Jordan once put it, “the itch.” It was a matter of a couple of months in Green Bay, hours—or so it seemed—in New York. It makes you wonder what he was thinking when he made the announcements. You even have to wonder if he made the announcement in New York so he’d be able to sign un-impeded in Minnesota, which is where he wanted to go last summer only to be blocked because the Packers still had him under contract. The Jets graciously released him—in part, I’m convinced because new coach Rex Ryan didn’t want to deal with an, “As The Favre Turns,” scenario during training camp.

My guess is Favre will pronounced himself fit and report to training camp next week. Or, let me put it this way: If he DOES say he’s staying retired, the over-under on when the first reports surface that he’s reconsidering is about 10 days. I might take the under.


TImB said...

I've never been ever to figure out whether its someone like Favre that plants numerous stories, or just the people around him? Either way, it comes back to him. I just don't care enough to make it a must follow story....maybe I am just old enough to watch great players continue to be introduced.

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