Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hating Brett Favre


As long as I can remember, I've always hated Brett Favre.* I grew up watching him lead the Packers to two Super Bowls (winning one) and being a perennial MVP candidate. He played for the Vikings biggest rival, and while he was leading the Packers to winning season after winning season the Vikings were lucky to earn a wildcard birth. So naturally I spent my childhood hating Brett Favre.

*Hate is a strong word. I don't truly 'hate' anyone, and it's pretty hard to hate someone you've never actually met. But I would say Brett Favre was as close as any athlete in my lifetime to me actually hating.

Then the Packers rightfully chose Aaron Rodgers over Favre after he tried to unretire, traded him to the Jets, and eventually after a season in New York Favre finally got what he wanted; he was going to sign with the Vikings. On the day the Vikings signed Favre, many Vikings fans were excited, some were angry, and others took a wait and see approach. I had no problem with the move, because the Vikings clearly weren't going to be contenders with Tarvaris Jackson at the helm. But I still didn't like Favre.

What's come out about Favre this year in regards to the Jenn Sterger stuff isn't all that surprising. There had been rumblings for years that Favre had a different woman in basically every city, but again the Vikings signed Favre to play quarterback, not to be a great role model for fans. Despite hating Favre my whole life, his 2009 season made it easy to like watching him play. It was easy to put up with the drama, the attention-seeking, and the spats with his head coach and certain players because quite frankly he was putting up MVP caliber numbers. Then he threw that interception in the NFC Championship game and it was all downhill from there.

However, despite my strong dislike for Brett Favre, I will always respect him as a football player. The guy played in 297 straight games as a quarterback. He went from 'out' to 'questionable' the day of a Monday Night Game, when the Vikings were already mathematically eliminated. Maybe he didn't want his last throw to be an interception. Maybe he wanted all the attention one more time. But most likely he just wanted to get back out there and play, and that's what he did.

After the game, Favre apparently told Julius Peppers "Go beat the Packers in a couple of weeks." The Bears have already won the division, so they may not even play a lot of their starters in that week 17 game, but it's clear Favre still has a strong dislike towards Ted Thompson and the Packers organization. Pro Football Talk, the site I linked to, seems to think this is just another sign of Favre's selfishness that in a season that has gone so terribly wrong all Favre is thinking about is watching the Packers lose. That seems unfair to me. I do believe Favre wanted nothing more than to win a Super Bowl with the Vikes this year, so he could stick it to Ted Thompson. It didn't work out. Ted Thompson is paid to make personnel decisions, Favre is paid to play, and with how well Aaron Rodgers has played since Favre left, it's clear the Packers made the right choice.

But Favre is still human. He feels that he did enough for that franchise to determine on his own terms when he wanted to walk away. And I think the Packers were going to give him that opportunity, until he retired and then tried to come back after the playbook had been slightly modified to better suit Rodgers' strengths. Regardless of why it happened, Favre getting traded clearly bothered him. Being forced out of a place you thought was your home is something that would leave anyone bitter, just because Favre is a hall-of-fame QB doesn't mean he's immune to those feelings.

It frustrates me quite a bit to read that Favre wanting the Bears to beat the Packers is a glimpse into his character. Anyone that has competed at a high level is naturally more competitive than the average person. I think most athletes would feel the same way Favre does, and as a matter of fact I bet the average person would even feel that way. We all hold grudges. If you've ever been fired, dumped or used, chances are you held a grudge against your boss or your ex. Some of you still hold that grudge. Brett Favre is no different than the average person in this situation.

Brett Favre has done a lot of foolish things over his career, but telling Julius Peppers to beat the team that essentially fired him is not foolish. It's human nature, it's the way most of us are built, and suggesting that Favre's bitterness is a glimpse into his character really bothers me. He's not a great person, he's been a terrible QB all season, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with him wanting to stick it to the people that he feels screwed him over. It happens every day, at every job, with every kind of person. Brett Favre is no exception, so let's please stop trying to analyze every little thing the former great does. Just let him ride off into the sunset, for everyone's sake.