Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Brett Favre's Legacy: The Hits Just Keep on Comin'

Just when I had really come around on Brett Favre, he pulls the rug out from underneath me.

As a loyal San Francisco 49er fan, I spent a good deal of his career loathing Number Four. He was the only reason not wearing a Dallas Cowboy jersey that Steve Young's legacy with the Niners isn't shinier. But that was many National Football League years ago.

My Niners plummeted into obscurity so quickly and the Cowboys were so much more culpable for the unfair tarnish on Young's rep that I had to forgive the Ol' Gunslinger. Plus, the man was a rock for a while and not too shabby in his own right.

Of course, it didn't hurt that his Green Bay Packers lost to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII. In the process, his squad handed the American Football Conference its first title in 14—FOURTEEN—tries. That took some of the sting out of the Packers' defeats of San Francisco (as did that catch by a guy whose name I can't recall at the moment).

It got to the point where I was a full convert. I marveled at his durability and superhuman throws. I forgave him his interceptions and crushing postseason losses like most of the rest of you. I forgave him his addiction to pain-killers (that couldn't have anything to do with the ironman streak, could it?).

Then this retirement stuff started. Even then, I turned the other cheek. At first.

But the final straw came when he chucked Aaron Rodgers' promising career under the bus. Or tried to.

Seriously, how many young players could step into the void created by the loss of a future Hall-of-Famer? Under the best circumstances? And Ol' Bert created just about the most toxic environment for a first year starter imaginable.

Well done by a supposed leader of men.

Even so, I didn't turn on him completely. Say what you want about Brett Favre—and I'm about to—his competitive fire cannot be questioned. Whether it burns for purely selfish reasons can be debated, but he needs to win.

Like many of you, I'm convinced it's for the wrong reasons. But that desire is a fact.

So it's understandable guys like Favre have a hard time walking away from the game. Not only that, but his warrior years earned him the right. Plus, he was playing well and so was Rodgers so I begrudgingly stuck around.

And we all know what happened next.

The OLD Gunslinger showed up and started throwing to the other team. And the other team was often very, very bad. The New York Jets fell from their perch atop the division and landed squarely outside the playoffs.

With one last shot to salvage the season, Brett drove the final nail into his own coffin (an impressive feat) by indulging retirement musings. AGAIN.

Then the coach, Eric Mangini, got fired. Then anonymous rumblings about Ol' Bert being a problem started surfacing from the Jets locker-room. Then Thomas Jones publicly called him out, said he shoulda been benched. Then there open season on Favre started in the media.

And now, Eric Mangini seems to be the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns. According to Jay Glazer (a man whose NFL info can be trusted like gospel), the job is his.


That didn't take long. What, all of a week to find another head coaching job in the NFL? That's not too bad.

And that suggests that NFL insiders tend to agree with those anonymous moans from the Jets inner circle. With Thomas Jones' brutally honest and accurate assessment of Ol' Bert. With other reports that the OLD Gunslinger torpedoed Mangini's chances of success in New York.

That Brett Favre might not be the gritty, blood-in-the-mud warrior many of us thought him to be.

Oof, 2009 isn't getting off to a great start for Brett Favre and his legacy. That's not good news considering 2008 wasn't exactly their banner year.

Run for the hills Brett, while there's still some luster on that battered reputation.

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