For years now, the Brett Favre soap opera has spiraled on and on. Will he play or won’t he play? It has been talked about ad nauseum and then some on national sports television and radio. It reached the point of getting old years ago. But Brett Favre seems to have a pathological desire to be discussed at length by the media.
In the latest news, last week Brett Favre informed ESPN that he would need minor ankle surgery to play next season. In mentioning this, Favre said he has a difficult decision to make on retiring or coming back to the Minnesota Vikings next season.
For five years now, this same drama has unfolded during the offseason. Sometimes Favre has retired and then come back, other times he’s just held everyone hostage while he was deciding. It’s been the same tiresome storyline. During this time, the media has talked and talked about Favre and his potential retirement. ESPN and other sports outlets have had tons of career reflections on Favre, the likes of which are reserved for when a player does leave for good.
During the offseason in 2008, Favre formally announced his retirement. Even though once again the media praised his great career, no one really believed Favre was done playing. Sure enough, he said he wanted to return, and the Green Bay Packers were thrown back in to the drama once again. This time the Packers weren’t biting, and Favre was ultimately dealt to the Jets. He played there one year, and in 2009 the same drama started when the communication between Favre and the Minnesota Vikings transpired. Sometimes Favre was coming back, and sometimes the Vikings said he wasn’t. Of course, he ended up coming back in August and had a nice year. Here it is now in May of 2010, and the same thing is happening again.
I have to believe that Favre knows if he will play or not. My gut tells me he just doesn’t want to deal with training camp and other offseason team activities, and who can blame him. Instead of having this same thing go on for months until the season is about to start, I wish Favre and the Vikings could come out and say that Brett will play but won’t join the team until August. This would be similar to the Roger Clemens ongoing retirement fiasco, when he returned to the Houston Astros half way in to the season and had all kinds of special circumstances such as not having to travel with the team if he didn’t have a road start. That kind of prima donna treatment is pretty bad, and professional athletes who make that kind of money shouldn’t complain about the extra things they have to do. But that’s a lot better than the song and dance that goes on with Brett Favre every year.
The Favre-media love affair started long before the retirement talk. Favre opened up his personal life to the media many times. It seems every personal issue in Brett Favre, from his father’s death to his wife’s cancer have been used to create Hollywood-type drama whenever Brett plays. I’m not making light of those things in his life, but it seems like they are things that most athletes don’t want the media discussing at length. While many would simply offer a statement asking for privacy, Favre seems to welcome the attention, or at least let it happen. The media still talks about his Monday Night performance the week his father died as if it was the greatest human moment in history. Sure it’s impressive, but tons of athletes have performed under similar circumstances and it is never talked about. Everyone, including all athletes, deals with personal tragedy. Why is it that Brett Favre’s personal tragedies are newsworthy while others are not?
I’m not saying it’s all Brett Favre’s fault. In this age of 24 hour media outlets all over the place, there is a lot more time to talk about things that aren’t really newsworthy. But Favre has never expressed any dis-concern with how often he’s talked about. The past few years of retirement drama has largely been Favre driven. It seems in the height of NBA and NHL playoffs, and baseball entering the peak of its season, Favre issues a statement about his potential retirement that doesn’t ever clear anything up, but still triggers the media to talk about him. By issuing his latest statement, Brett Favre satisfies his need to be talked about, but still leaves the window open for him to be talked about for months to come. That’s why he won’t say he’s definitely coming back until the season is about to start, even if he knows it.
We’re likely to hear this Favre drama for off-seasons to come. Unless Week 1 starts and Brett Favre isn’t playing anywhere, I’ll never believe he’s retired. That’s a shame, because Favre has had a truly great career, but he’s likely to be remembered as much for his pettiness and attention starvation as he is for his play on the field.