BrettFavre: the all-time leader in free passes

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Aug 20, 2010



BrettFavre's NFL track record is marred by personal demons, frustrating indecision and colossal on-field gaffes that have cost his teams one shot at a Super Bowl after another.
 
Yet that story rarely gets told. Instead, BrettFavre is still portrayed by large segments of the sports press as the chummy Good Ol' Boy gunslinger beloved by everybody.
 
It's a case much like we find in politics, where glowing portrayals out of the ivory towers of big East Coast media often conflict sharply with public perception on Main Street Middle America. Every American older than 8, for example, knows that certain politicians get a free pass from their rump-swabbing lackeys in the mainstream media.
 
Cheat on your taxes? Hey, no problem, bud. There's a big cushy leather chair at the head of the Treasury Department waiting for you. We'll bury the story and all will be forgotten. We're all friends here.
 
Well, the same phenomenon exists in the sports world, too, where reporters are often so chummy with their subjects that they fawn like lapdogs. The ongoing BrettFavre saga is proof. Cost your team a shot at the Super Bowl seven  times in nine years? Hey, no problem. You're still the greatest. We'll stand by your side as you hold teams and teammates hostage to your indecision and error.
 
Those are the thoughts we've had this week, after an interesting post in our Fabulous Football Forum by reader 300InterceptionClub.
 
You can tell 300InterceptionClub has an agenda here, just by his handle. After all, BrettFavre is the only member of the 300 interception club. His 317 career picks is well ahead of No. 2 George Blanda's 277.
 
But 300InterceptionClub has more than just an agenda: He also has a good point. And he's part of a rapidly growing legion of fans annoyed that BrettFavre has managed to get away with an endless series of egregious crimes against the sport, his employers and his teammates for better than a decade now.
 
Meanwhile, BrettFavre is still celebrated as something of a Messiah in the sports press, while the public fandom, not to mention the emotionless arbiter of all things Pigskin, the Cold, Hard Football Facts, grew sick of his act years ago.
 
Here's the list of affronts to the football world listed by 300InterceptionClub in quotes, with our comments below each.
 
"He was addicted to drugs: Free pass"
BrettFavre's struggles with pills and the bottle have long been forgotten. But we remembered five years ago, when we named BrettFavre the quarterback on our Substance Abuse All-Star Team.
 
As we noted at the time, "Favre is the Aerosmith of the football world. Sure, he may be as popular as ever. But he's just not as good as he was back in the carefree, substance-filled days of his youth."

"He laid down for Strahan: Free pass"
300Interception Club is dead on again: this is another affront to the sport swept under the rug over the years. BrettFavre literally laid down on the field, some say to hand his buddy Michael Strahan the single-season sack record. Barely a peep out of the sports press.

"He talks too much: Free pass"
Well, hard to quantify this concept. But suffice it to say, his teammates certainly can't be happy with the way every BrettFavre decision is one part media circus, one part Dean Martin celebrity roast, with the national football media recording every word and image. We can see the next one already:  
 
"BrettFavre retires again. And this time he really means it! Sponsored by Good Ol' Boy Chewing Tobacco."

"He lies: Free pass"
Either he lies or, to quote the great American poetess Katy Perry, "you change your mind like a girl changes clothes." Hell, that should be the official Cold, Hard Football Facts BrettFavre theme song.   

"He has performed inconsistently since 1998: Free pass"
300InterceptionClub is wrong on this count: BrettFavre has been very consistent over the years. He consistently gives away the ball in the biggest moments of the biggest games of the year. We've chronicled this phenomenon several times through the years. It's BrettFavre's most notable legacy as far as we're concerned.

"He treats his teammates like they're second rate: Free pass"
His actions certainly indicate that he believes he's above the team. Look at it this way: the Vikings entered the draft in April without knowing whether they'd have their No. 1 quarterback in uniform or not in August. Hell, they entered their first exhibition game without knowing.
 
There's a whole series of critical personnel decisions the team put on hold, merely to cater to the whim of their indecisive 40-year-old quarterback. Of course, the team is largely to be blamed for being held hostage by one player.
 
In either case, w'd be f'in PISSED if he was our teammate.

"He's re-defined choking: Free pass" and "He throws interceptions at the worst possible times in the worst possible ways: Free pass"
BrettFavre has absolutely made more critical big-game gaffes than any quarterback in history. It's this fact of his game that makes us wonder why teams like the Vikings seem obsessed with having him at quarterback. It's insane, quite frankly. See it all right here.
 
Like we said, eight times in nine years his critical mistakes cost his team a shot at the Super Bowl (though, in the case of Green Bay's 4-12 season of 2005, that assertion is something of a stretch. At the very least, he cost his team a solid 10-6 record and shot at the playoffs).

"He treats franchises poorly: Free pass"
Yeah, he does. But we blame the teams themselves for letting their entire organization get hijacked by the indecision of a single player. It's as ifStockholm Syndrome has infected NFC North GMs for more than a decade.

"He's manipulative: Free pass"
The way he's messed with fans in both Green Bay and Minnesota has pretty much pissed off most neutral observers.

"He's a Drama Queen: Free pass"
As they say up here in the woods of Downeast Maine, Ayuh! The chummy Good Ol' Boy is certainly a media creation that stands in sharp contrast to the flighty drama queen the rest of us have seen over the past five years.
 
Jimmy Kimmell had a brilliant take on the drama this week, with his skit, "Brett Favre's greatest retirements."

"He refused to mentor Rodgers: Free pass"
Not sure how much truth there is to this assertion. But we do know this: the Packers drafted Rodgers with their top pick in 2005 because BrettFavre already told the world that he was retiring. In fact, ESPN celebrated the entire BrettFavre farewell tour throughout the 2004 season, which was supposed to be his last.
 
That farewell tour gave us one of the most nauseous moments in sports broadcasting history: at the end of an eight-hour Monday Night Favreball broadcast on ESPN, and at the end of BrettFavre Day in Wisconsin, sideline reporter Michelle Tafoya, with the help of Deanna Favre, began to lecture us about the "tremendous strides (BrettFavre) has made as a human being."
 
Of course, by now ESPN has been burned so many times celebrating various BrettFavre farewell moments, that even the hype merchants of "the worldwide leader" have given up on the practice.
 
 
Someday in 2053, when Packers management digs up BrettFavre's bones and puts them under center, Berman will tell us that BrettFavre "looks just like a kid out there."
 
"He's uncommitted: Free pass"
He's not committed. But the GMs held hostage by him should be.

"He's opportunistic: Free pass"
Well, can't blame him for opportunism. Hell, we're opportunistic. We just don't have the opportunity to throw picks in the fourth quarter of the NFC title game every other year.

"He chases stats: Free pass"
Well, at this point he owns every record in the book, including the bad ones (like INTs, fumbles, and awful postseason gaffes). So he's not really chasing anything. He's kind of just pulling away.

"He can't make a decision: Free pass" and "He doesn't make good decisions: Free pass"
True. BrettFavre has certainly made an art form out of indecision. And then when he does pull the trigger, it's usually a bad decision. His fourth-quarter pick against the Saints in the NFC title game last year was a perfect microcosm of his career.
 
BrettFavre had victory and a shot at the Super Bowl within his grasp ... yet again. Then he waited, waited, waited, rolling right, trying to buy a little time, not sure what to do with the ball. The right decision was to try to run forward for a couple yards or throw the ball away, and then have his team attempt the game-winning field goal that would send the Vikings to the Super Bowl.
 
But then at the very last second, he threw the ball across his body, into the middle of the field and into coverage, where it was picked off. It was classic BrettFavre, once again snatching defeat from the jaws of victory on national television.
 
Hell, in case you forgot, here's what it looked like just seven months ago, with fan reactions (NSFW, unless it' s OK at your office for some guy to scream "F*CK!!!" at the top of his lungs):
 
show video here
 
 
The way the media dwells on BrettFavre's indecision entered the realm of the absurd long ago. Curiously, though, his career of bad decisions, from popping pills to tossing picks, never generates the same kind of coverage as the indecisions.

"He sent unwelcome pictures of his thang to a married woman: Free pass"
Some athletes get obliterated in the media for far less. But, in this case, the sports press treated the allegations of impropriety like it's just BrettFavre being BrettFavre.
 
You know, he's a gunslinger. So all is forgiven.
 
The elephant in the press room
Finally, there's the great big elephant in the room that the media definitely WILL NOT address. But an emailer brought it to your attention a couple weeks ago.
 
"Barry Bonds has to love the treatment that the old man (BrettFavre) gets. Lance Armstrong, too. Why is BrettFavre the only old guy whose late-career performances never raise questions about the juice?" - Craig Henry, publisher, Lead and Gold blog
 
Good point. We live in an age in which athletes who suddenly perform at an extremely high level at an old age face the inevitable accusations of performance enhancement of one kind or another. Bonds, Armstrong, Roger Clemens – all produced eye-popping performances late in their careers.
 
All immediately faced suspicions of juicing. Bonds and Clemens have had their careers and reputations ruined. Clemens, for his part, now faces federal charges and may go to jail.
 
BrettFavre, meanwhile, produced his greatest statistical season in what was already a Hall of Fame career last year, during a season in which he turned 40. His performance last year stood out as a sharp statistical anomaly with all those performances that had come before: BrettFavre set personal records in completion percentage, yards per attempt, TD-INT ratio and passer rating. Suddenly at age 40, he was better than ever. We're not saying he did anything wrong. We have no evidence of any kind.
 
But any critical observer will look at the statistical evidence and find it odd that BrettFavre's anomalous season came not at age 28, when most QBs are in their prime, but at age 40, when most QBs are in the broadcast booth. Any critical observer will start to ask the question.  
 
But BrettFavre doesn't get a critical eye from the press. Instead he gets, you guessed it, another free pass.

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