Monday, August 24, 2009

Favre, Packers, and the nature of competition

As a defacto fan of the Green Bay Packers (Mom was from Green Bay), I have followed the rocky career path of famed quarterback Brett Favre over the past couple of years, since he was traded to the New York Jets in 2008 -- after much back-and-forth drama and finger-pointing with Packer management over Favre's retirement, change of mind, forced ouster, etc.

His one-year stint with the Jets garnered just so-so results (they ended the season with a 9-7 record, but did not make the playoffs) and much criticism over his increasing penchant for throwing interceptions (he currently owns the record, at 310 total for his career).

After that one-season run, Favre again announced his intentions to retire. That was it, I sighed: no more Brett drama to dominate the news pages and sports blogs, just good, old-fashioned game play.

But retirement, apparently, doesn't sit well with the almost-40-year-old athlete: He has just signed with the Minnesota Vikings, who happen to be the Packers' No. 1 rivals. In years past -- Favre's glory years -- Viking fans loathed him just as much as Pack Backers loved him.

And now, almost comically, those tunes have switched completely: Green Bay fans are booing Favre and decrying his turncoat ways; while Viking fans have developed Brett fever, even giving him a standing ovation at the start of the team's preseason game Aug. 21 against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Vikings, apparently, have pinned their Superbowl hopes on Favre.

Says a recent AP story: "In about 72 hours, the Twin Cities have turned into the Favre Cities. Purple Favre jerseys and T-shirts are everywhere and fans have filled the phone lines of talk radio to hail the arrival of a three-time MVP who, despite turning 40 in October, is believed by many to be the missing link between this franchise and its first Super Bowl appearance since 1977."

It's still a little soon to tell whether Minnesota's dreams will be realized: Though they won that game 17-13, Brett threw only four passes -- with only one completion -- before he had to be replaced due to a hard tackle (read: injury avoidance!). And I know that fanatic Green Bay followers are hoping he falls on his face (literally!).

And then there are those Favre-ophiles who love him so much, they've switched team allegiance with his every move. (Geez, folks! What are you going to do when he finally retires?)

As for me: I personally don't care much one way or the other. My basic loyalties still lie with the Packers, but I'm really more interested in seeing good football. Will Minnesota's sudden "darling" be worth the big bucks -- and controversy -- of his signing? We'll just have to watch and find out. It's going to be a fun season!

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