Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why oh why did I come back?

Brett Favre’s disaster of a year continues. If only Percy Harvin had paid attention to where his feet were, people would be talking about a miracle comeback win against the Packers instead of how Favre’s turn-overs have led to 51 points--which is what people on personal vendettas strive to find out (there seems to be no interest in finding out the points off turnovers from other turn-over machines, like Eli Manning and Drew Brees). The coach of the Vikings, Brad Childress—who owes his recent contract extension not to his “system” but to Favre—has come under criticism for publicly throwing Favre under the bus, and his blasé attitude toward the pounding Favre continues to take, courtesy of his “system’s” offensive line, can’t improve their already tense relationship.

Now Favre’s 291 consecutive start streak is in jeopardy, due to two fractures in his previously injured ankle. I heard on one radio program a debate on whose streak was more impressive—Cal Ripken’s or Favre’s. There was some leaning toward Favre when it was pointed-out that all baseball players do is bat four times, field maybe a half-dozen plays and run bases; injuries to baseball players, when they occur, is more likely due to lack of physical conditioning. But that only lasted until somebody pointed out that former Minnesota defensive lineman Jim Marshall had started 270 straight games (he played in 282 straight games, compared to Favre’s 293). Marshall’s streak is impressive insofar as that his knees and ankles held-up for so long; the upper body weight of linemen is such that most injuries occur in the lower body, and usually because they are not athletic enough to make all the twists and turns a running back can make. Quarterbacks, however, are more likely to take hits that break bones, as Tony Romo of Dallas suffered in the Monday Night loss to the Giants; I don’t see linemen being picked-up and pile-driven into the turf like quarterbacks are. In the NFC championship game last year, Favre was hit sixteen times, including that stomach-churning double hit that officials only later admitted should have resulted in a penalty that would have negated the first interception and given Minnesota the ball in the red zone.

Favre was probably more torn about coming back for this season than at other point in his career. Why come back for another beat-down on his 40+ body? After the championship game, other teams could see how they could physically neutralize Favre, and Childress—married to his “system” which had produced only questionable results in the past—failed to take remedial action to shore-up the offensive line’s failures. Jake Cutler’s travails in Chicago are also testimony to how refusal to modify a “system” without the proper personnel can play havoc on a quarterback’s health. I would like to see Favre win one more game and call it a day, just so that he can go out on his terms. Of course, the media hounds will take him to the cleaners, for “letting the team down” and being “selfish.”

The reality is that Favre didn’t believe or want things to progress the way they have, and for anyone in the media to suggest otherwise says more about its cannibalistic nature than it does about Favre. After he criticized Favre for being a "drama queen," I looked-up former Cowboys coach Jimmie Johnson's career as a player in the NFL on ProFootballReference.com, and I have to tell you, his stats are just as impressive as mine. Of course, I never even played pee-wee league football, but at least in Johnson's defense he never had the opportunity to embarrass himself, which would make his opinions even more laughable than someone who never played. Johnson obviously loves the mute types who took his abuse in silence; not talking frankly about injuries allows people like Johnson to heap abuse when they don't have a clue about what they are talking about.

Meanwhile, unless Jenn Sterger decides or not to talk, the investigation into that pathetic affair seems to be winding down, but the fallout continues. According to a story in Steppin' Out (I never heard of it, either), a former friend of Sterger's--Allison Torres--claims that she has "no doubt" that the man package pics are Favre's, but goes on to say that Favre wasn't the first "celebrity" to try to "hook-up" with Sterger; she could also "make millions if she ever cashed in on all the naked photos she gets from friends (and "star athletes")." It was Torres' impression that Sterger "enjoyed" the attention (so much for "sexual harassment?), but could not say if the two actually "hooked-up." Can we be allowed to speculate that she also encouraged it? Sterger's manager responded by accusing Torres of trying to exploit the situation for personal gain; my suspicion is that Sterger opened this can of worms through third parties hoping to cash in without being accused of being a golddigger, but any leverage she might have had in shaking down a large private payday is now gone. Although over the weekend Sterger's manager stated that his client's "silence" cannot be bought, this contradicts an earlier report that they were attempting to reach a “financial settlement.” Apparently Sterger was reacting to commentary that noted the contradiction in her earlier claim that she was not a golddigger; Sterger does, in fact, pay a great deal of attention to what people say about her, and I'll talk more about that later.

What started this, of course, is what the media described as “scandalous” and “racy” voice mails that Favre admitted to sending (but not the pics):

“Jenn, it’s not a set up. Just got done with practice. Umm, got meetings here and I’ll pull out a couple of more hours and I’m going back to the hotel and just – just chill, so, ah, send me a text, cause I’ll be in the building, for a couple of hours, loved to have you come over tonight, but ah, I know ah, I think Aron came up and asked you ah, would give – you know, your number, or he was going to give you my number, but I understand. Send me a text, loved to see you tonight, alright, talk to you later. Bye.”


“So, some garbage can, huh, so that’s what you think that I think of you. Huh, well I’m still trying, just got done with practice – I’ll try again at home. You probably got caller I.D. I think but if you can make it, it would be great. Alright, later.”

Scandalous! Racy! This is the “raciest” voice mails they could find? Now, I admit that this stuff might befit the dialogue in a porn movie script, but in real life, this is what Deadspin’s editor reported when Sterger first approached him with the story: “They were still on her computer because they were FUN to LAUGH at amongst friends." Not because they were “racy,” but because they found Favre’s bumbling, “Mississippi simpleton charm” amusing. Another oddity about the media coverage is the repeated but mistaken reference to Sterger as a “reporter.” In fact, her official position with the New York Jets was team "hostess." According to my dictionary, a hostess is “a woman who entertains socially.” Favre probably wasn’t the only guy who was confused about what her “function” was with the Jets. In the above quote, Favre is not asking for sex (“it’s not a set-up”), but to “chill” with him. Why should we presume it is anything but “social?” Given the present facts, Favre and Sterger seem to have been playing teasing games with each other, and it is the media--which has lowered the bar for what they think a woman should consider “offensive”--that has decided that nervous bumbling of this sort should be considered “sexual harassment," and predetermined what Sterger's reaction should have been. Now, of course, we know that Sterger "enjoyed" the attention and considered it a matter of amusement; she could deny this at some future date, but then again we have Torres' testimony that suggests otherwise.

Curiously, given the circumstances, Sterger has in the past been overly sensitive about her own “reputation.” She doubtless expected most people to follow the lead of the media and treat her like poor Jenn, even after it was reported that she admitted she found the “creepy old man” more a matter of humor. After she was (or not) fired as a “commentator” on Sports Illustrated’s website, where she got top billing over a real journalist, Frank Deford (and showed much cleavage), she had this to say in an interview with sports writer Bob Mantz:

"I have people like [Former Agent] Roger [Finger] and my family who keep an eye on the internet and we try to stop people from slandering me. But I know how the internet works and...People just tag things to get hits. I'm just so glad that you took the time to listen to my answers and print the truth. People always want the juicy answers and really sometimes my life is just not all that interesting. People trying to start drama."

Sterger also tried to explain her apparently disparaging comments about ESPN reporter Erin Andrews, caught on tape:

"Oh yeah, there is audio. I actually have audio that is slowed down three times so it is extremely evident that it is 'second'. I was speaking off points. I said 'first' I am on the internet [compared to Erin at the time being on TV], then I said 'second' while the hosts were talking over me. Bad microphones, bad audio, and just someone looking for extra publicity and wanting to drag my name through the mud. If you want to get hits that way then by all means go for it."

Fascinating that Sterger is so concerned about what people think of her—which puts Favre’s “garbage” voicemail, perhaps made in a chivalrous moment, in a different light. In any case, it seems clear that Sterger is not only paranoid and thin-skinned, but not above mocking people and then lying about it; remember: she did say she and her friends found Favre’s voicemails “fun to laugh at.” It also should be apparent that Sterger’s fascination with “hits” suggests she is aware of the potential for personal gain that targeting someone of real stature, like Favre, will bring her.

I do feel for Deanna Favre in all of this; she put on a brave face before television cameras to promote her book that was ironically appropriate for the present situation. Favre should have known that if you play phone tag with skanks whose “fame” is derived from the sale of their frame—and who like to save their voice mails, first for laughs among equally skanky friends (like Torres) and then for blackmail—you will inevitably come-up stanking. I'd also like to add that if this was all just a shakedown for money or notoriety (that is apparently backfiring), the toll it has taken on Favre's family is unconscionable. The media, of course, is doing its sleazy part in promoting this shameless self-promoter being passed off as a "victim."

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