Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Roger That Minneapolis, the Ego Has Landed

Where was a British betting house when I needed one?

You can bet on practically anything across the pond, a statement backed up by the story of one gambler, Jon Matthews, who wagered in April 2006 that he would outlast the life expectancy given by his doctor after he was diagnosed with cancer caused by asbestos. Matthews went to a betting parlor and laid down 100 Pounds at 50 to 1 odds that he’d live to June 1, 2008.

Matthews made it and 5,000 Pounds. He put down another c-note (or whatever the Brit slang for it is) at the same odds and won another five-big after living another year. Mr. Matthews laid down another hundred but on his third wager he lost more than his 100 Pounds.

As soon as I heard of Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre’s reported “tweet” about hanging up his “horns”, I should have put in a call to Ladbrokes (with whom I have a half-pound wager on a Two-Dat) to see if they’d give me odds on Favre pulling a “psyyyyche”.

Especially since I would have been willing to lay down a lot more than 50 pence on that proposition.

Without a doubt, Favre’s “return” (he was under contract for this season and had not filed paperwork ending his active status in the league) will add to the parade/festival extravaganza the NFL is planning for the Saints-Vikings regular season kickoff in the Superdome. Assuming Favre’s ankle has healed adequately and he is ready to play in body and mind.

Beyond his track record in this matter, I couldn’t help but think that the same man who takes so much delight in the speculation about his retirement could resist being a part of a nationally televised game in the very stadium where he threw the immaculate interception.

There’s no debating that Favre is both a legend on the field and quite the soap opera star off with his hemming and hawing about the conclusion his gridiron career. Conveniently, this posturing results in #4 avoiding the rigors of training camp. He’s also profited from his quibbling, appearing in a Sears commercial spoofing his indecision from last year.

It’s obvious that Favre relishes the attention and how with a few taps on his cell phone to a gullible sportswriter can shut down whatever lead story that ESPN and other sports networks were going to run that day. If Favre desired to add clarity to the media brouhaha, he could always put in a phone call to any radio station in the country.

Instead his silence in the midst of the frantic reports speaks volumes about his intentions. And perhaps his character as well.

When Favre does finally retire, he should take a page from running back Barry Sanders and quietly fax a press release to the local paper in Hattiesburg. I don’t think anyone is going to believe it until the season begins without him.

While visiting Milwaukee a few weeks ago, I stopped by the Harley-Davidson Museum mostly to see a special exhibition on the life (and natural death) of Evel Knievel. The famed daredevil that recklessly risked his life attempting stunts used to meticulously choreograph his performances, from what the announcer said to theatrical manner in which he would climb on to a vehicle. One of the scripts was on display.

Knievel was more showman than stuntman. Favre is an outstanding athlete but his showman-side has enveloped part of the legacy he toiled to establish primarily on Lambeau Field’s tundra.

Aside from how it affects the Saints, I don’t care about whether Favre retires this season or is retired by a possible lockout in the next. That would be the ultimate irony.

Favre is a special athlete and the game benefits from his participation so long as he continues to play like a champion defying the limits of age. However, the game doesn’t benefit from his retirement antics.

It’s unprofessional and it has to drive Vikings fans crazy…not that the Vikings haven’t driven this Saints fan nuts in the playoffs (the 2009 season excepted).

Favre owns many of football’s all-time great records and one all-time not so great record and while the Mississippian’s spot in Canton is assured, the image he leaves in the collective memory of the fans through his media tomfoolery will be chips in his Pro Football Hall of Fame bust.

Brett Favre has played the game better than all but a handful of quarterbacks. That can’t be said regarding the way he has attempted to leave it.

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