Ahead of the Curve

Days before Brett Favre signed with Minnesota I'd begun to think he'd bailed because Green Bay had out-flanked the Vikes, signing him to a huge personal services contract.

Looks like I was giving the Bishop & Co. too much credit.  That would've been a pretty shrewd move: bring "Jonathan E." Favre back into the Packer Corporation while besting their Nordic rivals one more time.  It coulda' been sweet, for the Packer faithful.

Alas, it was not to be.  Favre will visit Titletown for his number retirement and Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, but never a working relationship.  He has the purple taint.

Clearly, money was not the focus for Favre, although the original rumored Viking offer was nicely enhanced.  But money does have a way of making hard decisions easier.  If he truly was "conflicted," a beefed-up services contract might have tipped the scale.

Corporations rarely act in a manner that reflects emotions like sympathy or revenge, but PackerCorp is different.  Resentment towards Favre may've become a matter of policy. 

James Caan plays athlete Jonathan E. in the 1975 futuristic movie Rollerball.  Corporate wars have made the world safe but prosaic.  Behave and live well.  When Energy Corp's John Houseman decides it's time for Jonathan E. to retire, the fan favorite fights back. 

Brett's battle is not with the NFL.  Roger Goodell welcomes the added revenue, although Favre couldn't have been happy with NFL approval of Green Bay's poison pill clause in their contract with the Jets (GB would get three NY 1st rounders if a trade to Minnesota). 

Not surprising then, that NFL Network is one of the few to cover the drama impartially.

And Favre's John Houseman is not GM Ted Thompson.  His antagonist is the real power in Packerland: the Board of Directors, where seats are passed down through generations.

Green Bay is part of the NFL's old guard, a near-founding franchise swollen with history and pride.  Like da Bears, the Packers reach is long (Jets & Vikes?: mere members).  One grumble at a golf game and the smear campaign is on, quickly pervading all of sportdom.

ESPN (Wal-Mart of sport media) and most outlets are showing their support for the Bay by piling-on ol' Brett.  Company men like Fran Tarkenton and Mark Schleretz (ESPN) are scoring points with the old guard but growing more tiresome than a Limbaugh rant.   

Packer fans are rightly saddened by the whole affair, but the media's constant criticism of Favre is exaggerated.  Mr. Vick had not received half as much scorn from sport scribes.  Given that PackerCorp started the trouble, Favre's injury is worse than most knew and Viking players are generally thrilled with his arrival, isn't it time to stop the charade?

Haywood Broun once described Joe Namath as "that most loved and hated of gladiators."  Like Joe, Brett's run will end someday.  So let's enjoy it, for we'll never see another like him.       

Steven Keys


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