It wasn't terribly long ago that every major media outlet in America was fully and thoroughly in love with Brett Lorenzo Favre. ESPN, NBC, Sports Illustrated. . .from 1992 to 2007, there was no excuse too big, no stretch too long, and no platitude too sweet to lay at the feet of #4.
Throw six interceptions in a playoff game? "Well, his receivers, you know. . .they ran the wrong routes. Yes, all six times."
Pushing Bill Schroeder in front of the proverbial bus in the subsequent press conference? "That's because nobody loves the game more than Brett Favre."
Toss a ball 30 yards over Javon Walker's head in a playoff game against the Eagles? "Hey, Walker should have caught that ball!"
Underhand a ball into the end zone when you're five yards over the line of scrimmage? "That's just Brett Favre having fun playing football."
All of that came to a huge, screeching halt on Tuesday morning when it was announced that the Minnesota Vikings had signed Brett Favre to a contract to quarterback them in 2009. The signing brought together two huge, undeniably powerful forces. On one side, you had the media's openly professed love for Brett Favre, a love that they had been extolling for sixteen NFL seasons. On the other side sat the obvious disdain. . .if not outright hatred. . .that the national media has for Minnesota sports teams and, by extension, Minnesota sports fans.
Guess which side won?First, and most surprisingly, among the new legion of naysayers was noted Favre sycophant Peter King. After his column that was penned the day that Favre signed his contract, it was apparent that not only was King off of the Favre bandwagon, but he took the wheel like Keanu Reeves in Speed, turned the bus around, ran Favre over with it, threw it into reverse, and backed over what was left.
Childress has looked like a desperate man throughout this melodrama. He made it known internally that Favre had to do at least some work in the offseason program or the veteran mini-camp to be considered. Favre never showed. Then he had to come by the start of camp. Favre didn't come, opting for his third false retirement in 17 months. Now the Vikings let him come back after the team has gone through training camp. Favre's the wishy-washiest player in memory -- and the Vikings are his enablers. It's ridiculous.
See that line in bold? The Vikings are his enablers? Such an assertion would have been ridiculous coming from almost anybody. . .coming from Peter King, this assertion is straight-up asinine. King was Favre enabler #1 for a long, long time. . .and if you need proof, Slate Magazine has done a brilliant little timeline of King falling "out of love" with Favre. When you figure in all the ink, megabytes, and column inches that King as devoted to #4, you can truly get a grasp of how dubious his crying is right now.
(Yes, "column inches" is a newspaper term. Get your minds out of the gutter, for crying out loud.)
King may have been the greatest individual Favre cheerleader prior to Tuesday, but if one was to look at a collaborative work, you'd be hard-pressed to find a bigger cheer squad than the folks at ESPN. Heck, I remember tuning into NFL Primetime a few hours after the Vikings/Packers playoff game at Lambeau in January 2005. . .and from listening to Chris Berman and Tom Jackson sleepwalk through the highlights and talk about the game that night, I thought that maybe I had stumbled across a live broadcast of a wake. No enthusiasm, no excitement. . .just sadness and disappointment that their beloved Packers and their even more beloved Brett Favre had gone out and laid an egg against a team that everyone assumed they'd waltz past with no problems. (I can still recall Steve Young declaring that Vikings/Packers was "the easiest game he'd picked all year." He got it wrong, natch, much like everyone else at ESPN did.)
Now, after posting reporters at Winter Park, Hattiesburg, Birmingham, Gulfport, Moss Point, Edina, Eden Prairie, and numerous places in between. . .NOW it turns out that ESPN is sick to death of Brett Favre. Leading the Butthurt Brigade is Mark Schlereth, who simply can't stand the fact that Brad Childress went about this the way that he did. Schlereth, when asked why he didn't put Minnesota in his top five NFC contenders going into 2009, said that they were in the "six to ten" range.
Yes. . .a team with an outstanding defense, one of the best running games in the league, and that hasn't gotten any worse since they won the NFC North in 2008 is now merely one of the ten best teams. In the NFC.
To be fair, there are some people at ESPN that think the Vikings have done well with the Favre signing. . .Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden, most notably. . .but by and large, the talk around Bristol is about the "credibility" of Brad Childress and "doing things the right way." It's hilarious, quite frankly. . .all these folks have said since last January is that the Vikings needed to address their quarterback situation. For three years, they. . .along with almost every other media outlet in North America. . .has said that Tarvaris Jackson can't get it done, shouldn't be a starting quarterback in the NFL, and what have you, and they basically laughed at the acquisition of Sage Rosenfels prior to this year's draft.
(Granted, we Viking fans were pretty much okay to go into the year with T-Jack and the Spicerack at the #1 and #2 spots on the QB depth chart, but hey. . .who are we, really?)
So ESPN said the Vikings had to do something about their quarterback situation. . .and you know what the Vikings did? They FREAKING DID SOMETHING ABOUT THEIR QUARTERBACK SITUATION, that's what. Was it the conventional way of going about it? Not really, no. Has Brad Childress lost credibility with his football team over the matter? I really, really, really doubt it. They're professional athletes. . .they're not fifth graders. Did the Vikings have to give up two first-round draft choices for a gutless crybaby that's never done anything? Certainly not. . .but maybe they should have, judging from the reaction.
The kickoff of the 2009 season is exactly three weeks from today. I'm not worried about Brett Favre. Vikings fans in general aren't worried about Brett Favre. Nobody of any real significance is worried about Brett Favre. And the whining from the corners of the globe that, until this Tuesday, couldn't get enough of Brett Favre is nothing short of absolutely ridiculous.
Bring on the next pre-season game. . .one that, I promise you, will look drastically different from the last one for Minnesota's #1 offense.