Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Favre's Doubts Make Waves
My heart sank today.
I am coaching basketball, and one of the other coaches says to me, "Hey, did you hear? Brett Favre called Mike McCarthy and wants to come to training camp!"
That made my heart seize more than sink. It was the conversation that followed that made it sink.
Other Coach 1: "That's the best news I've heard all day!"
Other Coach 2: "Are you kidding? Favre just needs to move on. The Packers don't need his sorry arse."
Other Coach 1: "Favre is the best thing for them right now...they almost went to the Super Bowl and they won't be able to do it this year without him."
Other Coach 2: "Less Filling!"
Other Coach 1: "Tastes Great!"
Aha. This is why the heart sinks. It isn't simply because of these rumors going about that Favre has allegedly been trying to contact McCarthy to return, but because of the media sensationalism that is going to get once-polarized fans back into the pro-Favre, anti-Favre camps again.
Last thing we need, last thing Aaron Rodgers needs, last thing the Packers need.
But the media needs it. Rodgers isn't nearly as dynamic as "the face of the franchise", and many of the other Packer leaders are even worse: Aaron Kampmann, Al Harris, and Charles Woodson are fantastic players on the field, but are at best politically correct off the field, and at worst, reclusive.
So, nothing like Favre to get the pre-training camp stories going, and this is a good one.
Now, even as a long-time Favre Fan and Defender, I will say that I think he is better off retired, and truly believe he will stay that way. I don't think there is as much to gain anymore as there is that can be detrimental, and a return is not in his or the Packers' best interest.
I also think that Favre could have done a little more to squash the rumors than say it was a "rumor" and that there was "no reason for" a media firestorm. Saying, "I'm not coming back, period" would indeed have been a bit more squashing of the rumors, but then, this is Brett Favre, and we know that he's one to give the media its bone to gnaw on.
The media and bloggers are indeed having a field day on this one. Just a hop, skip, and jump around the Internet shows you opinions ranging from Favre as AntiChrist to Rodgers as a video-game-playing dope who needs this as a kick in the pants.
But, let's go back and look at that article. Who said this information, according to ESPN?
Yep, "sources from inside the organization". No names. No accountability. Nothing.
I don't know if anyone remembers, but on ESPN a couple years ago, a "source from inside the organization" told John Clayton that Mike Sherman was going to keep his job as head coach following the 2005 season. The next day, he was fired.
Funny when you don't have names to back up your information, isn't it? The media has been pulling out all the stops to get us more third-party opinions, but nothing substantial. Donald Driver, Al Harris, even Frank Winters was brought out of mothballs to discuss whether or not they think the unnamed sources are right.
Could Favre be having retirement remorse? Of course he could be, and probably is. No one forced him out the door, though some of the conspiracy theorists are stating thatTed Thompson did not talk to him during the offseason, leading Favre to believe he wasn't wanted. Most football players don't retire on their own terms, on a high point of their career.
Steve Young, Troy Aikman, and Joe Montana would all be the first to say (and they have said) that you should play every down you can while you can, because you'll never get those days back again. And Favre has heeded that advice, even when struggling through the accountability-free seasons of the Rhodes and Sherman regimes.
The media is already provoking Aaron Rodgers into blaming his frustrations about following Favre on the fans. The trouble is, if "unnamed sources" are spreading this information, it sure isn't helping how the media is going to treat our new starter. And that is probably the greatest pity.
We will have to watch this uncomfortably play out over the next few days, but in the end, I believe that Favre will remain retired and Rodgers will be pushed even harder and further by the media.
Yes, Favre has his culpability in this issue, but if he did broach the issue with McCarthy, he did it privately and didn't announce it to the media. That, if it is true, was the work of an "unnamed source in the organization". And while I don't glorify Favre's alleged change of heart, I'm sure glad he did it in a way that only some leak would let it get out into the open.
I'm sorry, but isn't anyone else finding the media's fixation with Favre's retirement status over the past five seasons a little obsessive and creepy? Favre has taken his time to approach every new season so he would be able to give it all he could, and finally, decided to retire after a great season in which he likely would have garnered serious MVP consideration if it weren't for Tom Brady's career year.
It's time to stop rewarding ESPN for getting our undies in a bundle every time they get an unsourced rumor. If you can't credit the source, you don't report the story. Now, we have to wait to let this story play out, with emotions boiling over on both sides of the issue. In the end, as Favre said, it will likely be an unfounded rumor, or at worst, just a feeler sent out by Favre that was rebuffed by MM.
But, the media has fuel to get them through training camp. Thanks, ESPN.