I’ll dearly miss the old man, and I thank the hell out of him for the past 17 years of entertainment. He casts one huge, lonesome shadow.
I wrote those words a few days after Brett Lorenzo Favre‘s tearful “retirement” speech in 2008.
You see, I used to be a high priest in the Church of Favre — I was full-on “Gay For Favre.” I won’t deny it. Here is another fanboy ejaculation from my tear-stained blog:
The fact that he came from the hinterlands of Mississippi — and played in an NFL market that was once laughed at for being a frozen wasteland of Negative Space — made his star shine even brighter.
Things have changed, friends. From where I sit now, Brett’s hero days are long gone. In retrospect, it’s clear that his “retirement” from the Green Bay Packers was the brazen attempt of a coddled man-child to force his way out of town.
Deep down, Favre wanted to play for the Minnesota Vikings. In the Twin Cities, he could reunite with old pals Ryan Longwell and Darrell Bevell, two solid peckerwoods who enjoy Favre’s noxious huddle farts and dead-animal pranks.
There was one problem, though: the Packers didn’t share Favre’s enthusiasm for this proposed transaction. Thus began an ugly divorce. Not only did Favre handle things poorly, the Packers reacted with panic and indecision. At their lowest point, they hired Ari Fleischer to smooth things over. Shockingly, that didn’t go over well.
More subplots ensued. In something straight out of an Elmore Leonard novel, the Packers sent team president Mark Murphy and a briefcase full of millions to Hattiesburg, Mississippi to bribe Favre into permanent retirement. The Packers also dispatched offensive line coach James Campen to Favre’s lair, hoping that the straight-talking envoy might succeed where management failed. But that idea bombed too. In fact, a salacious rumor gained traction as result of the Campen meeting.
Salacity aside, we know how things turned out. After several weeks of homoerotic melodrama, the Packers traded No. 4 to the New York Jets.
But Favre never seemed happy with the Jets, mainly because the luckless franchise didn’t have a climate-controlled dome or a sycophantic coaching staff. (The latter point is only partially true. Former New York coach Eric Mangini, in embarrassing tribute to Favre, gave his newborn son Zack the ill-fitting middle name of Brett.)
Favre did his time in New York dutifully, though, and when the off-season came around, he “retired” again. But like herpes, or the swallows at Capistrano, he came back. All the way back, playing the best football of his career. If Favre defeats the New Orleans Saints this weekend — and I think he will — his Vikings will be Super Bowl-bound.
It’s all quite nauseating.
To be clear, it isn’t Favre’s ego that rubs me the wrong way. Most pro athletes are egomaniacs, and that’s fine. Par for the course. What irritates me is the abundance of erratic, passive-aggressive behavior in recent years. Who is Crazed, Beady-Eyed Favre, and what did he do with the Flatulent Everyman that we all know and love?
Former Green Bay player and coach Harry Sydney theorizes that, personality-wise, Favre went astray after his father died. Packer fans may accept and understand this; they know that Favre excels when a crabby father figure is around to knock some sense into him. Maybe Daddy Favre was the only person who could still do that.
The Harry Hypothesis doesn’t excuse Favre’s boorish behavior in recent years, though, nor does it provide angst-ridden Packer fans with any sense of closure.
Foul, odoriferous closure may be coming, though, as Favre’s to-do list is nearly complete:
Will another Super Bowl victory nudge the frisky diva toward a Mississippi retirement home? Or will Favre cling indefinitely to the Vikings like a headless cockroach that lives for weeks after its face falls off?
Nobody knows. One thing is certain, though — Favre has crapped all over his legacy as a Green Bay Packer. It’s only fitting that he go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a Minnesota Viking now. Perhaps Zack Brett Mangini can induct him.
That would be a painful sight, yes. But let’s not sob and write florid poetry, as many journalists on the Favre beat do. No, let’s make one thing very clear: Favre’s descent from the Green & Gold into a purple cesspool isn’t Hegelian Tragedy, where two forces of good — in this case Favre and the Packers — engage in fatal conflict.
No. It’s the story of a guy who desperately needs football because he has no talents or hobbies outside of it (though this clip screams otherwise). It’s also the story of a guy whose gruff father kept him centered. But now that Daddy’s stabilizing influence is gone, the parasites and enablers run the show. Thus we are left to witness the unpredictable fugue state that Favre lapses into each and every off-season.
Personally, I’ve had enough, so I’ll close with my favorite Favre quote from the past three years:
I’m not going anywhere or playing for any other team. I am a Packer and I want to retire as a Packer. Playing for anybody but the Packers would not be right.
Thanks, Brent. We’ll never forget you.