Off-season blues: The Brett Favre saga

It’s that miserable time of year again.

The weather is consistently awful, students are right in the vortex of the black hole that is their academic life, the first round of American Idol is wrapping up (effectively putting an end to monumental “pants on the ground”-type performances), Valentines Day is just around the corner to remind us yet again how devastating chocolate can be to our waistlines and The Blindside starring Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw received a best picture nomination for this year’s Oscars. Wow.

Not miserable yet? The NFL season is over. The Vikings did not win the Superbowl or the NFC. In fact, they lost it in heartbreaking fashion. Wow? More like, duh.

But just as Chumbawumba says, “I get knocked down, but I get up again,” and despite the fact that Viking Nation is still in mourning, the show must go on. Off-season activities and acquisitions can be just as crucial to a team’s success as on-field performance, and the Vikings are entering an enormous off-season, one in which several key players must decide if they want to come back to Minnesota. One player’s decision however is sure to attract more attention than any other’s (just as it has in the past). His name? Oh, uh, that No. 4, the salt- and pepper-haired, gun-slingin’, pill-poppin’, Budweiser-sippin’, just-havin’-fun-out-there guy. What’s his name again?

It’s Favre. Brett Favre. And he’ll have his brewski shaken, not stirred.

The past two NFL off-seasons have been riddled with sleazy Brett Favre affairs fit for a chapter in the Tiger Woods biography. Let us reminisce.

After the 2007 NFC championship defeat to the Giants, Brett Favre left his longtime lover, Ms. Packer, with whom he shared one of the most illustrious NFL careers (including two romantic Superbowl dates, one of which ended with a ring). The breakup killed Brett. He cried his eyes out, but ultimately decided it was the best thing to do for both of them, and he gave Ms. Packer the old, “You’ve been great, it’s not you it’s me” speech. Although devastated herself, Ms. Packer decided to move on.

A few uneventful months passed, including training-camp, the time every NFL player admittedly dreads the most about their job, and surprise, Brett decided he wanted to come back. Without the obstacle of camp in the way, it was like Ms. Packer had gotten a makeover and suddenly seemed more appealing. “Ah kin steel play, Ah wona play, and bottom lan, Ah git ta do whatever Ah wont” Brett thought. But Ms. Packer had already given her heart to another man, the younger, quicker Aaron Rogers. She didn’t want anything to do with Brett and all of his baggage, and after all, Aaron Rogers was notorious for turning “tight ends” into “wide receivers.”

So Brett decided to do what any reasonable man having a mid-life crisis over his “usefulness” would do: get drunk and go to New York! It was in the Big Apple that Brett found romance for the second time in the form of the Jets. Lady Liberty had been so abused in her long-term relationship with Chad Pennington that she was evidently fed up. It was time to try sleeping around for a season, experiment with older men, knowing that the best result would be a fun year, but definitely nothing serious or long-term. Brett swept her off her feet with his mid-western charm and the promise that he was in it for the right reasons. The rest was history (and still is, I suppose). However, after a turbulent season, New Yorkers inevitably learned that Brett was a two-timing pig who only came to their troubled franchise because of how she looked during beach season, not her real personality. Thus, when Lady Liberty showed her true colours, Favre once again jetted into retirement (pun intended). Dedicated to family life, hunting and coaching high-school football, Brett vowed he was done messing around for good.

Suddenly, something I call “the Jessica Biel effect” came into play. The Jessica Biel effect is essentially when a team so smoking hot comes around you just cannot say no. They’re simply that attractive, and that’s what the Minnesota Vikings were to Brett Favre. They were Jessica Biel.

Minnesota could offer Favre an offensive line that could protect him with confidence, one of the top two running-backs in the league to hand the ball off to, and overall a team that could realistically win a Superbowl (not to mention US$12 million a year, and the comfort of playing in a dome). Not surprisingly, Favre accepted. He and Jessica Biel immediately hit it off and he was putting it deep into her end-zone multiple times a week. The relationship was everything they thought it could be and more. Brett enjoyed a career season and Viking Nation enjoyed Brett. Despite the fact the season ended in gut-wrenching disappointment, anyone who watched this past NFC championship game knows that Favre played a good game and they lost that night as a team. Most of the blame should probably be placed on the rest of the squad’s fumbling problems.

Regardless, now comes the issue, the essence of this report. What to do now? What will Brett Favre decide to do after the best statistical season of his career? Let’s continue with the Jessica Biel metaphor for a closer examination. Sure, they had a fight. They let the New Orleans Saints come between them and they lost their tempers, but unlike in past relationships, it simply does not make sense for them to breakup for good. They need each other too much. After Favre left the Packers, they had a stud to turn the franchise over to. After his season with the Jets, it also made sense for the team to release Favre as they had a young team, a new coach coming in, and an opportunity to draft a new quarterback and try to rebuild their franchise the right way, from inside out.

But the Vikings? If Favre leaves, they’ll be in the exact same situation they were a year ago: a team ripe with talent at every skill-position and no quarterback to fulfill their potential. Sure, they could draft one, but it’s not like they have a high draft pick. They could let Tarvaris Jackson takeover like Green Bay did with Rogers, but the difference there is that Tarvaris has already had an opportunity to start, and in case you don’t remember, he did not capitalize on it. Favre completely re-ignited the Viking franchise and had fans more excited than they were in the Randy Moss/Cris Carter days. Both the team and city of Minneapolis unarguably benefit from Brett Favre’s presence.

But the fact remains: Brett Favre is 40 years old. Not 37, not 39, but 40. The oldest quarterback to ever start a game in the NFL was Vinnie Testaverde at age 41, and that was an emergency call-up for one game. Favre would have to endure a whole season of sacks and hits as a guy in his 40s. Judging by that NFC championship game however, he could do it.

Brett, you have had three consecutive seasons end in heartbreak. If you quit now, your career will effectively end in heartbreak. This is the year it would actually make sense to come back. You’ve got a team who is easily a contender, US$13 million waiting for you, a whole lot of hungry Viking fans and everyone knows you can still play at a high level.

Never in my life did I think I would utter these words (but then again, never in my life did I ever think Favre would be a Viking): Brett Favre, please come back.