Thursday, June 19, 2008

Three Layers of Favre and Golf

I was doing a little thinking about the "news" of Brett Favre's generally unexplained withdrawal from a celebrity golf tournament this week.

Brett Favre withdrew Wednesday from the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe next month.

The former Green Bay Packers quarterback will miss the July 11-13 tournament at the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course because of a scheduling conflict, tournament spokesman Steve Griffith said.

"We didn't get any reason for it. It is a scheduling conflict that we don't have details on," Griffith said during a conference call. "We are hopeful he can attend next year."

Now, there are a couple of ways that this news can be taken. Let's take them layer by layer.

Layer One: Favre is a Poopy Head

First instinct might be that Favre has decided that he is too good for the tournament, or perhaps he is still pondering whether or not to come out of retirement. In any case, he has elected to leave some nice folks trying to run a charity golf tournament in the lurch. When one of the headlining celebrities decides to cancel, it is destructive and selfish behavior.

Some of the Favre Critics may even interpret this as more attention-seeking behavior on his part, choosing to place himself above the "team", as he had done to the Packers for the last ten years or so. In other words, he has simply moved his "holding the team hostage" tactics up to "holding the golf course hostage".

No word yet on whether or not he demanded a private locker room and Randy Moss to be in his foursome. However, let's move on now to...

Layer Two: Favre Doesn't Want To Overshadow Rodgers

The USA Today article doesn't mention it, but included among the celebrities is none other than current Packer quarterback Aaron Rodgers (among 17 other present and former NFL quarterbacks).

Now, if you listen to folks like Mike Vandermause, beat writer at the Green Bay Press-Gazette, you would be under the impression that Favre, despite being retired, is still trying to do all he can to undermine Rodgers' efforts to replace him (see Layer One).

Vandermause, among others in both the media and in the blogosphere, would have you believe that any action (or inaction) on the part of Favre is detrimental to Rodgers' development. For example, Favre stating he is going to miss playing and would be tempted to come out of retirement in an emergency, according to Vandermause, was hurtful to the team, and he should just shut up.

Now, I don't buy for a second that a grown-up like Rodgers, being paid millions of dollars to perform professionally on the football field, is really that intimidated by all this. But, it does make good press, as Vandermause has discovered in the slow Packer news days of May and June.

But I do understand that media circus that would likely occur with Favre and Rodgers playing on the same course on this particular offseason. Endless repeats of the same questions to both quarterbacks as to whether or not Rodgers can ever replace Favre. Constant comparisons, both in golf and in football.

I think Favre decided to not give Vandermause more wet gunpowder to fire with, and elected to let Rodgers have the stage in this golf tournament...not that Rodgers is by any stretch of the imagination the biggest "celebrity" to be teeing off. But, Favre is at least giving him the opportunity to avoid the now-tiresome comparisons that the media seems to need to do.

So, I believe that Favre is electing to withdraw to allow Rodgers to take some of the positive spotlight without having his own spectre looming over him, at least in the eyes of the media, who are always looking to make it more of a story than it is.

Which takes us to...

Level Three: The Media's Pressure Is The Spectre, not Favre

Exactly how long will Favre need to duck any events where Rodgers is present without both the ravenous media fawning over him, or in Vandermause's case, villifying him?

Yes, there are many of us that are "sick of Brett Favre", and even I (a Favre Fan) am excited to see the Packers moving on. But so much of that extra attention and over-coverage wasn't something that Favre engineered. Favre never asked for ESPN to overdo their coverage. Favre never asked for Peter King or John Madden to sing his praises endlessly, or for Frank Caliendo to satire it.

The media are the ones who have built this up, made the Packers "all things Favre", because there was always an audience for it. Even the best Packer fans grew weary of it, thus creating the market for the media "backlash" against "all things Favre".

If Favre is, as I believe, choosing to duck out of this tournament for Rodgers' sake (or perhaps, for his own, as he probably doesn't want to deal with the usual piranhas either), it is a sad commentary on the media, who hold the responsibility for being the eyes through which we sports fans can see all that is going on. The media is supposed to have the integriy to report the news and give us interesting features. With the advent of ESPN, though, sports reporting has become even more tabloid-esque, commercial, and glitzy.

I, for one, wouldn't mind watching Favre play in a golf tournament this summer. I wouldn't mind watching him on FOX and I wouldn't mind watching him re-host his softball tournament each summer. It's just too bad that the media continues to make him a lightning rod, and thus, a pariah in order to protect Aaron Rodgers' apparently fragile psyche.

I certainly don't mind him using his celebrity to help raise money for charities, such as the Brett Favre Fourward Foundation via his softball game, or the Lance Armstrong Foundation, via this American Century Golf Tournament

I will welcome the day when the Vandermause and the rest of the Favre Critics can find other things to grumble about, and Favre can be welcomed back into Wisconsin and celebrated by Packer fans like the other Lambeau Legends are.

No comments: