By Rob LaBrie
A flash comes across the screen, “Breaking News!” it reads in immortal ESPN text. It’s midnight and you just realize you’ve been dozing off on the couch. You see the screen and you decide it’s worth wiping the drool off the side of your face and sitting up to see what the news is before hitting the sack. Naturally, John Clayton pops up on the screen. “I’ve just received big news out of Green Bay. It seems Brett Favre may have played his last game in the NFL. Sources close to Favre say the legendary quarterback is leaning toward retirement. Of course, this is not set in stone, but we are one step closer to seeing Favre hang it up [pushes glasses up higher on his nose and sniffles].” You put your pants back on to hear this? Well, at least it must mean pitchers and catchers will be reporting pretty soon…You can smell it in the air; the annual Brett Favre retirement tease is underway. The 2007 version of the media frenzy kicked off when the NFL Network proclaimed that this Thursday night’s game between Green Bay and Minnesota could be the last time Brett Favre plays in Lambeau field.
Of course, this is just a ploy to get brainwashed, idiot viewers (like myself) to tune into the game. I mean, seriously, if Brett Favre had decided to retire, the last people to know about it would be the NFL. This is a decision that Favre will make on his own when he and his family think the time is right.
But Brett Favre is a legend. People really love this guy and they feel like they have a connection to him. They feel like Brett Favre walks out on that field every Sunday to represent something for them personally.
And ESPN and the NFL take every advantage of this love affair that they can. If I were Favre, I would cut some sort of deal with ESPN, saying I would play another three years, but for 5 million a year from them. I’ll keep playing and give them plenty of headlines about my possible retirement. That is, if something like this isn’t already going on.
As of right now, we are just getting warmed up with the talk. It’s only a side headline on most sports websites, but by the time the Super Bowl is over and people have nothing else to say about the NFL, we will get into full swing. We’ll hear those who say it’s time to hang it up, those who say he should play as long as he could, those who want to see him traded to a contender and those like myself who want to talk about real things like baseball and basketball.
Then, according to the script, we’ll start to hear complete indecision from the man himself, then the team saying that if Brett wants to come back, he’s welcome, but it’s ultimately his decision and they will work with whatever he decides. We’ll hear Sean Salisbury talk about how it’s unfair to the Packers for Brett to do this every year. But, Green Bay is just saying this to avoid pissing off Brett. They know he still wants to play.
Why wouldn’t he come back? He’s going to make about $12 million total in 2007 and he’s loved by all of Wisconsin. Plus, the team is starting to come together and, if his arm is still as good as everyone says, he could take them to the playoffs next year in a weak NFC, and maybe even farther in 2008 or 2009, should he decide to stick around that long.
This wasn’t the case last year, when the team was horrible. This year it seems an obvious decision to the casual observer, but in a couple months, we’ll be right back to where we are every year because when TV stations are talking about Favre, they’re getting viewers and it stirs people up.
Many will question why Favre wants this to be such a public thing and, in the end, if this keeps up every year, it may even end up scarring his image. But, you have to take a step back and look at whether this is Favre’s doing or it is strictly coming out of the propaganda files to get people to watch, read, listen to and buy ESPN. More than likely it is the latter trying to make this news and it shouldn’t taint Favre’s legacy in any way.
Sure, maybe Favre does have some indecision, but we don’t need to be hearing about it during every half-hour segment. Let the man decide, and then come out with a press conference. Whim-bam-boom; we hear about it one time for maybe 5 minutes and learn just as much factual evidence about whether or not we’ll see Favre for the 2007 season. It doesn’t have to be so drawn out.
There’s really nothing we commoners can do about this issue because the media always has been and always will be about making money more than bringing us the most important news that actually has to do with the games. Until Favre holds his press conference, I won’t buy into the propaganda… instead I’ll just go back to sleep when John Clayton mutters “Favre” and “retirement” in the same sentence.