You go away for a few days and miss out on all the fun.
I now understand that Brett Lorenzo Agonistes de la Mancha Favre decided that it would be better to stay away and not join the lovely and talented Brad Childress and his merry band of purple helmeted love warriors in exotic Mankato. Instead, ol' number 4 will remain retired, collecting his pay from Sears, Wrangler and any other marketer that values attention whores.
My. Perhaps that was too harsh?
History is littered with examples of how untrammelled egos can cause tremendous trouble for other people. Now that the saga appears to be over, at least for the moment, let's look at the winners and the losers. As it happens, the winners are in rather short supply.
Loser: Brad Childress and the Viking Brain Trust (and I use that term loosely). It always struck me as passing strange that a professional football team would let someone who isn't even willing to commit to joining the team have as much influence as Favre was able to have over the Vikings. What does it say about an organization that it would go through such contortions just to get a 39-year old quarterback to sign, only to be rebuffed when the time for a decision actually arrived? These cool, calm professionals got played. Big time. Oh, and good luck with that stadium you want, boys.
Loser: ESPN. How many reporters were on the Favre beat? You had Chris Mortenson, John Clayton, Ed Werder and a Greek chorus of reporterettes and reporteroids decamped in and around Hattiesburg, Mississippi, one of the premier summer vacation destinations extant, watching a 39-year old man throwing footballs with a high school team. Every time the great man broke wind, you'd see it reported on the crawl. Favre had his own freaking category, making him the equal of Major League Baseball, the Tour de France and just about everything else that actually happened over the summer. How much time and effort was expended on what eventually turned out to be a non-story? How many text messages, tweets and breathless dispatches did we hear from the worthies who populate the ESPN roster, all amounting to nothing? On the bright side, Favre coverage was fairly circumspect on ESPN Deportes.
Loser: Local Media and Fox 9. If ESPN got played, so did every media outlet in the Twin Cities. All the breathless hype that was expended, the Star Tribune web page -- gone, just like that. And how does Fox 9, which carries the Vikings games, now feel? In order to air the Vikings games, they will likely have to purchase thousands of tickets each week, especially in an economy where it is highly unlikely that a corporate angel will agree to pay thousands of dollars to the Vikings so that we can all enjoy the continuing saga of Sage Rosenfels. Sometimes a balloon simply deflates. This thing is Lakehurst, New Jersey.
Loser: Brett Lorenzo Favre. I will stipulate that as a lifelong Packer fan, I am deeply grateful to Mr. Favre for his often-stellar play over a 16+ year period. The Packers, from the end of the Lombardi era through the arrival of ol' number 4, were many things. Most of all, they were boring. Even the fun teams and the fun years were in the end pretty dreary. Favre changed all that. Had Favre simply walked away at the end of the 2007 season, he'd be remembered as one of the all-time greats, a guy with an unrivaled determination to play, to win and to entertain. After his ultimately desultory season with the Jets and this third-rate romance with the Vikings, his national reputation is now something rather different. Memories will fade and eventually Canton will call. Perhaps all will be forgiven. But that's not the way to bet.
Winner: Ted Thompson. You tell me -- would you rather be the Vikings brain trust right now, or would rather be the Packers brain trust? Aaron Rodgers played well last year as Favre's replacement. While the team took a stumble last year due to defensive lapses, the pieces are in place for a much better performance in 2009. Ted Thompson may be a dull technocrat, but the Favre saga is now well into the rearview mirror for the Green and Gold. Some 300 miles to the west, not so much.