The other day, someone asked me who my favorite athlete of all time is. A name came to my head with an authority that surprised me because—to put it bluntly—the guy cheated on an entire fan base. He cheated on my fan base. He currently leads the one sports franchise I detest more than the Chicago Cubs.
Still, the name Brett Lorenzo Favre popped into my brain faster than an 80 mph rocket destined to dislocate Antonio Freeman's index finger.
That got me thinking about good ole Grandpa Favre, now in his second year at the helm of the to-date winless Minnesota Vikings.
A year ago, I was scared shitless he was going to waltz into that god-forsaken dome and lead my loathed westerly neighbors to their first Super Bowl ring (just take a second and remind yourself that the Vikings have never won a Super Bowl). He absolutely torched the Packers twice, took some pressure off Adrian Peterson and seemed destined to win it all...and then that New Orleans thing happened.
For the sake of my already-ruined stab at objectivity, I won't gloat about how we all knew he would eventually make a stupid throw and it just happened to be at the most unnecessary moment of his career.
The point is, this year I'm not scared of what he might do for the Vikings, I'm scared of what the Vikings might do for him.
Clearly, the man is not at full strength this year. Even if they had managed a victory in the first two weeks, Number Four is visibly limping at all times. He doesn't have that aura about him that nothing bad can happen. He's already turned the ball over five times and, clichéd as it might be, he doesn't look like he's having fun anymore.
Now, if the Vikings rip off four wins in a row I'm sure his smile will be much more frequent, but it seems to me that he's only back because he didn't want his stay in Minnesota to be a one year dog-and-pony show.
That puts Vikings coach Brad Childress in a tough spot, albeit a spot he got himself into by begging Favre to come back, playing chauffer for him and spit-shining his shoes. Okay, maybe the last one is just speculation, but Childress is in a pickle regardless.
If Favre continues to perform anywhere near his current level, by any NFL organization's standards he deserves to be benched. We all know that won't happen, though, because of two factors. First, Favre has that consecutive games streak up to 287 regular season games, and Vikings management has no intention of being the reason it ends. Second, Childress tried to pull Favre out of a game late last year, and Favre just flat-out said no.
Even if the Vikings are better off with Sagevaris Jacksenfels at quarterback—and I'm not saying they are just yet—there's no way Brett gets benched. As perfect as this scenario should seem to me as a Packer fan, I just don't want to see Favre crash and burn because of his physical condition. I would have been overjoyed to see him throw six picks and get booed out of Lambeau Field last year, but he was healthy then. To see his Ironman career end in a heap in the Minnesota backfield wouldn't be right.
So, naturally, I've got an outlandish solution for my childhood idol. It's not outlandish in the sense that he hasn't tried it before—in fact, he's done it several times. It's only radical because of the fact that there are fifteen weeks left in the NFL season.
He should retire. For real. Once and for all.
Before you start yelling about quitting on teammates or being a pussy or some other thing, just think about it. He's already hamstrung the whole organization two years in a row by not showing up until they had practically painted the end zones for the home opener. And is he really doing a disservice to his teammates if he doesn't make them a better football team? I think not.
He should stand at a podium with his red baseball cap and grey beard and tell the world that his ankle just isn't healthy enough to survive another year. It wouldn't take a one-hour special or an exclusive interview. He could just say he tried his best and after 19 years his gas tank finally ran out. I really doubt Vikings fans could blame him. It might even expedite the healing process for Wisconsinites to see him finally make a call and stick with it.
Of course, now that I've horribly jinxed this whole situation, I'd better start thinking about who my new favorite athlete will be once Brett rips my heart out in January.
Think Favre owes it to the Vikings to play out the year? E-mail Parker at email@example.com