I really did my best to avoid it all year. And for the most part, why wouldn’t I? Brett Favre was playing on the Minnesota Vikings; playing well, actually. He beat the Packers twice; the second I witnessed in person, the first caused me a memorable emotional breakdown, at least from what my roommates tell me. The rest of the season he spent playing basically about as well as he can, which I was constantly reminded about from Chris Berman and every other ESPN analyst, sitting snugly in their Wrangler jeans. The only way I found to cope with this increasingly unbearable situation was to tell myself that everything is going too well. Eventually, something had to balance this out, right? Maybe? Yeah, probably not.
So I grasped at any straw imaginable. “Tony Romo on the road in the playoffs? Yeah, I think that could work!” “Ooh, Favre is on the cover of Sports Illustrated, the jinx will show up again!” These were not beliefs; they were merely wafer-thin hopes.
And then the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship game came. After all the knockdowns and missed fumble opportunities and incomplete Drew Brees passes, Brett Favre had again survived. (How? Because he’s like a kid out there!) Possession, two minutes left. He zip-lines a pass to Sidney Rice and it occurs to me that this is going to happen. There will be no Saints last stand and no time left for a comeback. Damn. Following a season of Favre punches to the face of the collective Packer fan-base, I guess it only made sense that it went down like this.
Obviously I didn’t know it at the time, but I once again got caught up in Brett Favre, the version ESPN adores. And when this happens, you forget about Brett Favre. You forget that the way this works is not when things look the worst for him. Like when he limps off the field with the most intense ankle sprain in the world, or when the Saints finally take the lead and you think there’s no way they’re going to lose now, not at home.
Nope, the way Favre-Fail works is under seemingly wonderful conditions, when everything is going right. This, if I remember right, is how you let the agony reach its boiling point. When Viking fans can taste the Super Bowl; the last possible moment. Not first down or second down, third down. They were one play away from Ryan Longwell walking onto the field and drilling a game-winning kick. This is the time when Favre decides to roll out and throw the kind of pass that when I do it in Madden I think “Oh shit” immediately after pressing the button. An absolutely ridiculous pass, both stunning and logical at the same time.
The shock-value is there because when this guy fails, he usually does it spectacularly; if regular failures are birthday parties, his are the “My Super Sweet Sixteen” version. But in hindsight, it makes sense every time; he is a gunslinger, remember? He can do these things because he’s made bad decisions throughout his career. As a Packer fan, it was a joy to watch him destroy the hopes and dreams of another fan-base. And the Vikings no less!
Favre did have some help in the failure department. Head coach Brad Childress, who continues to prove the contract extension Minnesota gave him was a superb decision and Adrian Peterson, who is under the category of best running back in the league with a crippling fumbling problem that does not look like it’s going to go away. It’s the Vikings, so any loss, whoever gets the brunt of the blame, would make me smile. But it is only fitting that in the end, Brett Favre put the finishing touches on his own team, again. For now, balance is restored.