In case you don’t keep up with football in general or the story of Brett Favre specifically, let me bring you up to speed on the past few years in his career
- After a terrible 2005 season (his 15th), in which he threw 20 touchdowns and 29 interceptions and ranked 31st in the NFL among QBs, speculation ran high that Favre would retire, having just spent the past year demonstrating that he no longer “had it.” The media (and by “media,” I mean “SportsCenter”) focused on the question of whether or not Favre would retire incessantly, until he ended the “suspense” (and by “suspense” I mean “annoyingly repetitive coverage of something that is a binary event and does not require updates unless its status changes”) by announcing in late April of 2006 that he would return the following year.
- After the last game of the mediocre 2006 season, in which his Packers defeated the rival Bears on New Year’s Eve in Chicago, Favre cried like a little girl on national television while reflecting on the career he’d had. Most people took this as a sign that he was intending to retire.
- During the offseason, having not yet officially announced his retirement, Favre criticized his team for failing to sign Randy Moss, who instead went to the New England Patriots and proceeded to set a single-season record for touchdown receptions in 2007. Most had assumed that Favre would be willing to come back to play for another season if his team got him a marquee receiver to throw to; since they didn’t do that, the assumption followed that he would finally retire rather than return again and have another mediocre season.
- Not one to give up easily, Favre returned to the packers for a 17th season. He proceeded to set NFL records for most career wins as a starting QB, most career TD passes, most career passing yards, most career pass completions and attempts, most career games with 3+ TD passes, and most career interceptions.
- He proceeded to lead the Packers to a resurgent 13-3 season, making it to the NFC Championship Game, which they hosted in Green Bay. This game ended with Favre throwing an interception in overtime on a retardedly risky pass attempt, thus ending his team’s season. The media tend to regard such passes as “youthful exuberance and love of the game,” whereas people who respect smart decision-making from their quarterback regard them as “idiocy.” (This can also be regarded as exhibit #43,082 in the case of Me vs. The Sports Media, in which I prove how embarrassingly biased they are in their portrayals of players; see, for instance, the contrast between “Good Rex and Bad Rex” or “Youthful Brett and His Love For the Game”—both are ways to spin what could more accurately be described as “occasionally interception-prone” or “decision challenged”).
- Finally, in March of 2008, Favre announced his retirement, crying about it yet again. Emotional, unrealistic Packers fans who didn’t realize how much he was holding their franchise back were sad, while the sports media (again, SportsCenter) took it as an excuse to create 17 different montages that they could replay constantly as filler during that boring period of the year after March Madness ends and during the first month of the baseball season. Sane people saw it as a good way to go out, ending a legendary career with a good season. I liked to focus on the fact that his career ended—fittingly—with an interception, but I realize that I’m in the minority.
You’d think that might be the end of the tale, but you’d be wrong. Poor Brett just can’t go an entire off-season without inviting some cameras into his Mississippi home for one of those somber interviews that SportsCenter loves to do, featuring that one Green Day ballad in the background and voice-overs that overstate Favre’s importance to the point where you almost find yourself believing that chucking a football around a field really is enough to dub a man “great” (but, hopefully, you catch yourself).
So now we have reports that Brett finds himself feeling “the itch,” and having the desire to unretire and play football yet again. The only problem is, the Packers have moved on. After grooming Aaron Rodgers to be the next starter for the past 3 seasons, now that Brett has retired they are ready to move ahead and hand over the reins. Favre’s idea, in response, is to request that the Packers release him so that he can play for some other team with less of an interest in building for their future and more of an interest in stroking his ego and capitalizing on selling #4 jerseys for a season so that they can get the publicity of hosting his next retirement press conference, where he will undoubtedly cry yet again.
Adding even more excuse for additional coverage of this circus, the Packers are refusing to release Favre, for fear that he’ll sign with a division rival (the Bears and Vikings have both been suggested as likely candidates) only to exact revenge on his former team on the field in 2008, resulting in more bad press for them. So what will be the outcome? Personally I’m rooting, as I’ve rooted during every off-season for the past decade and a half, for Favre’s ACL to spontaneously explode and make all of this a moot point. He’s slated to be on the cover of Madden 2009, after all, and people always need more reason to believe in “curses.”
Or maybe old Brett will just give up and go away, and spare us all from having to see him cry anymore, and end the ridiculous amount of empty, pointless coverage that his ego requires. Maybe. But don’t count on it.