When picking articles to put on the front page of RealClearSports, we try and pair opposing viewpoints about the major sports topics. For instance, in the Vick situation we had articles that thought Goodell’s punishment was fair and others that thought Vick had served his time already. The big topic now is Favre’s return (again), and while there’s been plenty of articles berating Favre for being selfish and about how his legacy is forever tarnished, I have yet to find one that applauds Favre’s decision to return. In his first press conference as a Viking, Favre said, “I think I made the right decision, I really do. Time will tell.”
While time might change some opinions, the overwhelming point of view is that Favre toyed with the media, fans, and now his teammates, and he better have a heck of a season or else his legacy will take a big hit.
The casual NFL fan can just laugh at the whole Favre mess but the ones that are truly upset are the Packer faithful. Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports wrote about the talk radio scene in Green Bay: “On the rare occasion a fan called to support Favre’s right to play for the Vikings, they were bayoneted by the next five callers, who reacted as if they’d just heard someone pitch the positives of joining the Taliban.” Favre is now considered a traitor for joining the Packers’ rival and made things even worse when he said, “If you’re a true Packer fan, you understand.” I hope you understand when every single person at Lambeau serenades you with boos when the Vikings go to Green Bay on November 1st.
But will Favre even make it to November 1st? The reports are he looks good right now, but not many are willing to bet on Favre having a great year. Most are thinking the same thing as Clark Judge of CBS Sports, that “Favre turns 40 this year, and old quarterbacks get hurt, throw interceptions and, basically, have trouble making it through an entire season. Favre offered a demonstration a year ago when he self-destructed down the stretch with the New York Jets, throwing two touchdown passes and nine interceptions in their final five games -- four of which they lost.”
Judge kept his criticism to what Favre can do on the field, but most writers were critical of his decision to return at all. Ross Tucker of Sports Illustrated called Favre, “selfish at worst, disingenuous at best” and questioned how Brad Childress will ever be able to convince his players of the importance of training camp after the preferential treatment shown to Favre. Alex Marvez of Fox Sports echoed the selfish sentiment:
I can't imagine fellow quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady being willing to put their own interests ahead of teammates who already have given so much time and energy preparing for the upcoming season.Now we’re really getting into the destruction of Favre’s legacy. Marvez has taken Favre out of the same class as Brady and Manning, despite all the records Favre holds. And speaking of famous quarterbacks, the Vikings most famous QB, Fran Tarkenton, has been one of the most outspoken critics of Favre going to Minnesota. Most recently on ESPN’s Outside the Lines, Tarkenton said, “Here comes Brett Favre riding in on his white horse, doesn't go to training camp, doesn't come to offseason workouts and he's gonna come on his white horse and bond with all these players?"
I’m usually the first to come to the defense of a player playing well past his prime. An athlete should play as long as they want to keep playing. Their legacy won’t be diminished by a few bad years (statistically) at the very end. Has Michael Jordan’s legacy taken a hit for his last couple years with the Wizards? How about Jerry Rice with the Seahawks? Or Patrick Ewing with the Magic? In just a few shorts years, fans forget about these final seasons and remember the players in their primes. This would have been the case had Favre not returned this season. The public would’ve forgotten about his brief stint with the Jets and stumbling down the stretch. But flirting with Childress and Minnesota, calling it quits, and then finally joining the Vikings well into the preseason will take its toll on Favre’s legacy.
Jay Mariotti believes Favre must play well to maintain his legacy:
All I have to say is, he'd better be damned good this season. It's the only way he'll regain our admiration after turning himself into an annoying, wishy-washy brat who spent the better part of four years toying with ESPN and the national sports consciousness.Jeff Pearlman thinks his reputation has taken a hit regardless:
For the low, low price of a reported $12 million, Favre has officially -- and irrevocably -- morphed his reputation, going from greatest quarterback of all time to craziest sports egomaniac we've ever seen -- and that includes Michael Jordan, Will Clark, Wilt Chamberlain, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds.The biggest sign of the backlash against Favre this time around – even Peter King has turned on him.
The final chapter of Favre’s career is just beginning and while his legacy has taken a hit, especially in Green Bay, eventually we will judge Favre based on his results on the field and not the drama he’s produced off of it. If he plays well and is a success in Minnesota, at 40-years old it will be just one more amazing feat added to his Hall of Fame career. But if he falters, I do believe this time that failure will be cemented into his legacy. Either way, personally I’m glad Favre is back. He will undoubtedly be the most compelling story of the entire season.
Favre officially vilified in Green Bay - Charles Robinson
Favre will do more to hurt Vikings than help them - Clark Judge
Signing Favre sends dangerous messages to rest of Vikings players - Russ Tucker
Favre takes self-centered behavior to new extreme - Alex Marvez
After All the Madness, Favre Better Excel - Jay Mariotti
We love comebacks, but Favre's return will tarnish his legacy - Jeff Pearlman
The Favre and I - Slate