I went to bed last night so pissed off it took me almost 8 minutes to fall asleep. Granted, my 2 hour nap from 1:00 to 3:00 before the first football game may have contributed, but I’m sure the main culprit was the NFC Championship game between the New Orleans Saints, and the Minnesota Brett Favres.
Why was I angry?
YOU DON”T THROW THE BALL BACK ACROSS THE MIDDLE…EVER, EVER, EVER! Hall of fame quarterbacks know this to be true. Joe Montana knew this. John Elway knew this…SHIT…Babe Laufenberg new this…most of you have probably never even heard of Babe Laufenberg. Peyton Manning and his baby brother know this…this football “no no” has been taught since they invented the forward pass.
Brett Favre doesn’t know this? Do the rules apply to everybody else but him? WTF! (I have never wanted to type out the f-word as badly as I want to right now…but you know…The Large Man is classy).
What a shitty ending to one of the best sports stories in recent memory. The 40-year-old Brett Favre leading the storied Minnesota Vikings back to the big game (I can’t use the Super word because of copyright laws)…the dream season ends with a nightmare interception of a pass that should NEVER have been thrown. I thought this was a sad, sad, SAD ending to a season, and maybe a career.
Or is it?
I certainly felt that way last night as I fell under the sandman’s spell. I felt the same as I woke up today. I’m traveling, so while I stuffed a week’s supply of khakis and oxfords into my beat up old suit case this morning I was still upset. As I stuffed dress socks and my low-rise silk briefs of crimson and navy polka-dot into this battered roller bag, I did so with anger and frustration. Why Brett? Why can’t you be like this trusty old suitcase? This suitcase has never let me down.
As I drove today, and I listened to all the sports talk show hosts lament about what this legendary player did…AGAIN…at pivotal moment in a crucial game, I heard one voice that pushed me toward different point of view. Tom Jackson of ESPN, an old school linebacker from the 70’s & 80s Denver Broncos simply said, “That’s Brett. You have to accept the whole package.”
I’m paraphrasing, but he supported his position by saying that these catastrophes will happen in a game of inches when you invest in a player that has a “go for it” mentality. “Brett is not afraid to throw a pick, and I admire that quality”. Hmmmm… (I write “Hmmmm” to represent a ponderance on my part)
I have watched Brett Favre play football for 18 years, and while I believe he is only barely in the conversation of “the best ever”, I believe he has been the best…the most fun …to watch. As luck would have it, I watch football for fun. Peyton Manning is a lot of fun on credit card commercials, and on Saturday Night Live. As great as he is on the football field, I don’t think watching him play is necessarily fun. Impressive…yup. Effective…absolutely! Fun? Not so much…not for my money.
Brett Favre is fun to watch, on and off the field. He’s like an action adventure movie, with a comic twist – every Sunday in the fall Brett attempted the improbable at least once. If Brett were a movie, he would be Die Hard.
If I had to win one game with any quarterback that I’ve ever seen; my pick would be John Elway. If you asked me who is the best quarterback to ever play the game, my reply would be Peyton Manning, but I would listen to your arguments for Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, or John Elway. However, if you told me I could buy one ticket to see one football player play the game, I would pick Brett. If I could only watch him play one game, I think I would have picked yesterday’s game.
Over the years, I have watched this man play the game with the enthusiasm of a child. I have watched him throw footballs into windows that were not open; sometimes those windows broke, but that’s okay…shit happens, it’s a game.
I watched him agonize over the death of his father, worry over his wife’s battle against breast cancer, and I watched him embarrass himself with indecision. Then we all got to watch him make fun of that indecision in TV commercials. For 18 years, Brett let us watch him be human. I love that stuff.
Then on Sunday, I watched this old battered man take hit after hit, then get back up. I watched this hero get carried off the field, and limp back. I watched this barbaric and beautiful warrior fight until the end…until “sudden death”…(pun intended).I watched his ego ultimately end his chance to win the game. BUT, that’s the same ego that drove the warrior to never miss a game…not one in 18 years. I love that stuff too.
Now that I’ve had a day and several hundred miles to think about it, to me, he’s just as much a hero in defeat as he would have been in victory. That’s Brett. When nobody else on the field would ever think about making a throw like that, he does. He does it because even though everybody else says it can’t be done, he thinks he can.
My old battered suitcase has never let me down, because it’s a well made article. Shit usually doesn’t happen to stuff like that. With people, shit happens. With old warriors, shit happens. Just like with kids, with wives, fathers and mothers. It’s the human thing; it’s what comes with a beating heart. It’s what comes with soul. If heroes were perfect, they would be boring…they wouldn’t be fun. I watch football for fun.
I hope I get to watch Brett play again, but if I never have that privilege, this was enough. This flawed human owes me nothing…I’m grateful for the ride. It was fun.