Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The streak and season over, now Favre can look back with no regrets

“The Streak” is over.

No, not the streaking fad of the mid 1970s, but Brett Favre’s consecutive games as starting quarterback. 297 straight games is an even more remarkable achievement given the fact that the average length of a NFL career is 3 ½ years. There were countless occasions when Favre could have taken a game off, if he was a lesser competitor with average talent. What it finally took to take down the streak was a combination of injuries of the ankle, elbow, chin, foot and finally a sprained shoulder. At 41, Favre’s body was simply too old or nimble enough to recover fast enough to compensate for a porous offensive line that was exposed during the NFC Championship game last season; against the Bills, offensive lineman Bryant McKinnie barely sniffed at rookie linebacker Arthur Moates, who charged on Favre from behind like a raging bull in delivering the “knock out” blow. As early as October, pundits were debating whether Favre would even last to Halloween, but then again these “debates” have been occurring for near 20 years; fooling the naysayers for as long as he did probably gave him as much satisfaction as it did me. At the end of it all, Trent Dilfer and Merill Hoge at ESPN gave Favre his just due, although a giggly Linda Cohn yucked it up with Moates; but at Fox, blowhards like Jimmy Johnson, Alex Marvez, Howie Long and Troy Aikman merely reaffirmed their small-minded irrationality by pumping-up Tavaris Jackson--who gave us a blast from the past with a typical boo-bird worthy performance against the Giants, which ended the Vikings playoff hopes. I would hope that Favre is healthy enough to play at least in the final game of the season, and play well enough to end this lost season on a positive note.

There has been a great deal of talk about how Brett Favre's “legacy” has been tarnished by his refusal to just lay down and go away. This kind of talk has been around since at least the time he decided he was tired of the Packers demanding an “answer” before he was mentally ready to play in 2008. He was coming off one of his best years, after a loss in overtime in the NFC Championship game against the eventual Super Bowl winning Giants. There was a natural assumption that coming so close he would return, but the Packer management had other ideas. They, like many pundits, thought that Favre was the problem, not the solution. Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy and company thought that if Aaron Rodgers was the quarterback, the Packers would have been in the Super Bowl. They may have been in right in one respect: Favre was clearly not the same after injuring his shoulder in week 12 against Dallas, but then again, this is assumption, not fact. The Packers went from 13-3 to 6-10 in Rodgers first full-time starting gig, and this past Sunday against a 2-10 Detroit team, he was again strangely ineffective before being knocked out late in the first half. His back-up, Matt Flynn, actually looked better, and if he had managed to complete his end zone pass in the final minute for a comeback win, the pundits might not be bemoaning the Packers’ chances without Rodgers. Meanwhile his coach, McCarthy, likes to throw red flags, but the real red flag might be the over-rating of his coaching ability. In the end, what may be his most notable “accomplishment” in the record books is the fact he decided that the Packers’ greatest player would no longer be the team’s quarterback after he led them one step from the Super Bowl. If I were McCarthy, I wouldn’t want that to be my “legacy.”

But back to Favre’s “legacy.” He had to play this year, to find out if the Vikings could make the next jump which they would not have done for certain with TJ, given the tougher schedule. As he stated in the post game press conference after the Giants game, now that the streak and season are definitively over, he need not look back with the regret of not knowing. And how could his "legacy" be hurt by becoming the first QB to reach 10,000 pass attempts, 70,000 yards and 500 TD passes? 18 straight seasons with 300 completions and 3,000 yards speak volumes as to the quality of his play. That is a legacy any QB would love to have. Only one Super Bowl victory, but that is still one more than the vast majority of NFL quarterbacks.

Meanwhile, one person who clearly is unhappy with Favre ending his streak dictated by health issues rather than hers is Jenn Sterger. Sterger is out of a job and her reputation as a collector of sleaze guarantees she will likely never get a respectable job in the sports media. It should be clear enough that her sole occupation these days is revenge fantasies and hope for a large pay day through either courtroom extortion or tabloid media. Sterger’s lawyer is demanding that the NFL punish Favre with suspension before the season is over, or else she will sue Favre. With all the testimony as to her character the NFL has on Sterger via former friend Allison Torres, I’m sure that Roger Goodell is in no mood to be pushed by a person of this nature; I have already discussed the evidence into Sterger’s “character” on several occasions here, so I won’t rehash them again. But what is remarkable here is Sterger’s insistence on her “victimization” which is strictly a media creation—particularly among the anti-Favre contingent—that David Carr of the New York Times described as “drive-by, cash-and-carry journalism” that “respectable” news media would not touch, unless, of course, somebody else (like Deadspin) jumped in first. The fact is that Sterger is a victim of her own devices; regardless of what one concludes from Favre’s own actions, Sterger could have prevented a “third party” from supplying Deadspin with material that would turn out to be shameful and embarrassing not just for Favre and his family, but Sterger herself for keeping them for years (because they were “fun to laugh at among friends”). It is rather ironic now that what started out to be her desire to gain notoriety at the expense of Favre, she now wants to blame him for the backfiring of this quest. If Sterger is smart—and there is no evidence of that yet—she will seek a modest payout to hold her over until she can get an honest job where no one knows who she is; if she does decide to sue, one can only imagine all the former friends coming out of the woodwork with stories about how they had a good time laughing at all the “naked pics” from “celebrities and star athletes” Sterger claims not to have solicited.

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