Sunday, July 13, 2008

Favre Just Can't Quit You

To me, underlying motivations of fandom are inherently different sport-to-sport. Fans of baseball root for the game's traditional and urban/rural past as much as they do for the hometown team. Just look at the stadiums we build and revere. Basketball fans marvel at the individual accomplishments of the sport's stars as much as they revel of the achievement of individual teams. And in football, fans root for the logo on the helmet regardless of who hides themselves behind the anonymous mask and beneath the hulking pads. The sport is a byproduct of a society emphasizing structural functionalism, where the position being occupied is elevated about the individual occupying the position. It is a cold view of the surrounding world, but one that is entirely accurate for American football. Only the collective, synchronized action of the men in the Honolulu blue jerseys or star-emblazoned helmets matter, not who is executing them one year to the next.

And that is what makes this Brett Favre debacle all that more interesting. For the first time in recent league history, the identity of a single player has eclipsed the importance of the larger team - and thereby the logo on the helmet. Emmitt Smith nor Joe Montana, Jerry Rice nor Kurt Warner and Joey Harrington (OK, OK, I kid with the last one...) had the same identity larger than their individual team when they moved on to a finish their accomplished careers in an all-together foreign helmet. But one gets the feeling that a move by Brett Favre would ripple across both the league and Packer Nation in a way that none of the above moves could muster collectively.

(As an aside, I just want to posit my theory on Joey Harrington. He will continue to be an asshat until he starts to go by Joe. Joey just doesn't cut it in the NFL. You think Joey Montana would have won 4 Super Bowls? Or would Tommy Brady have 3 rings and a smoking hot girlfriend? What In-N-Out burger location might Stevie Young and Jimmy Kelly be working at? Mr. Unitas is the only one to get a pass because his last name is so absolutely perfect).

Favre could cause a total identity crisis for Pack fans. Would the anger and frustration over the front office's egos be enough to - at least temporarily - drive long-time Packer fans away from the team? And really, is there anyone under age of 23 that is actually a Packers fan or is everyone born after 1985 just Brett Favre fans? I honestly think this is the quintessential question that will be answered in the coming months. He is the only thing twenty-something Packer fans have known and I can empathize with that. If Steve Yzerman had pseudo-retired and then gone to play with a different team, I would seriously have to examine my fan-lationship with the Red Wings.

I have long thought that the most egotistical drama queen in sports was Roger Clemens. His act was tired and old. And now he is reaping what he has long sowed. But I would put Favre right behind Mr. Mindy McCready. The annual indulgence with his inner-Hamlet, the unending speculation about his future, the now melodramatic good-bye on Thursday night in the 2006 season finale at Lambeau and the New Year's Eve tears on the Soldier Field turf ten days later, then his emotional press conference in March and his continual dominance of the Lions all wore on me. I just wished (and despite the Phoenician rise last season, I still do) that he would just go away. But don't you dare tell that to a Packers fan. And their insistence and loyalty to Favre will be uniquely tested in the coming season. The Packers organization has long be held as an example of David consistently competing with Goliaths and connecting in a unique and lasting way with their fan-base - from the inherited ticket policy to the community ownership structure of the front office. These nuanced issues and flawed characters make the current situation ripe for the Shakespearian pen, but the lead role in the "Merchant of Menace" has yet to the cast. Does Favre truly mean more than the oblong G so long hailed and worshiped in America's dairyland? If you are a fan of the NFL, it is a fascinating question to ponder and to see how it is played out.

It's Bat-Week. A review of The Dark Knight will be posted next weekend. The forecast is 57 levels of awesomeness.


derek said...

As a Miami Doplhins fan I think it's time for Brett Farve to go where QBs go to die, off the Florida Turnpike in Davie. It's wonderfully fitting that South Florida has become a retirement home for jaded QBs. Can't you just see Culpepper, Green, Harrington (who isn't old, but sucks), or even Farve sitting around talking about the good ole days and how the league has changed?

And as a side note, in the future please don't use Joe Montana and Joey Harrington in the same sentence.

Avery said...

1st - How dare you insult Joey Harrington - who fits the description of a guy who can make NFL fans have feelings outside of their hometown teams. Now Lions and Falcons fans can share in the sweet sadness that is Joey. Plus, screw Miami! I am rooting for him to win the starting job in the Atl. That way he can groom Matty Ryan into the Joey clone that he is meant to be.

2nd - my poll of diehard packers fans, sample size Bret Harper, says Bret is being a little whiny bitch and he needed to stay retired and the Packers organization has been put in an impossible position by him. I think the Roger Clemens comparison is apt.

3rd - the REAL place that Bret Favre needs to go for his last days is back to Atlanta. He also needs to play for free - after getting drunk all the time and showing up late for practice, and then deciding to be awesome after he was let go, that man owes the Falcons a lot.

derek said...

1. The only feelings Joey Harrington should produce for NFL fans are those of joy once he leaves their team. I can't really tell if you're a Falcons fan or if you are sleeping with Joey Harrington. Seriously, hoping that Matt Ryan turns into Joey Harrington is both cruel to Ryan and Falcons fans who want to win more than five games.

2. I agree that Farve should probably stay retired (albiet in a Miami Dolphins uniform) because it's wrong for anyone to cry at a press conference and then say "Sikeeee" 4 months later. Roger Clemens in nothing like Farve. Clemens retirement uncertainty came stems from the mood swings that come with steriod abuse, adultery and child pornography (probably).

3. Firstly, there are two t's in Brett's name. I would only allow Farve to become a Falcon if it meant that they would mimic the Lambeau field's weather inside the dome. If not he should play in shorts, a tank top and a sunday hat behind the great wall that is soon to be the dolphin's offensive line.

Avery said...

1st - As a fan of Atlanta sports teams, one gains the keen eye for spotting a team so bad (see: Hawks 2000-2007) that only a sarcastic rooting interest is possible without slipping into some form of depression. The Falcons are clearly in that zone, and winning 5 games would be a MIRACLE. I do not WANT Matty Ryan to turn into Joey Harrington, but studies have shown there is a 92% chance he does. Though Matty was the #3 overall pick, so that makes him totally unsimilar to Joey, and very likely to succeed.

2nd - There seems to be agreement that Favre is a little whiny bitch. So the question is what to do about it?

3rd - The best solution is obviously to send him packing to the Falcons. He owes us after the way he acted as a Falcon the first time - the start of his whiny bitch days. But this way Brettt can sit behind one of the NFLs worst offensive lines, with the NFLs worst recievers, and worst defenses, and get beaten into retirement. Any play in Miami, Green Bay, or most other NFL cities could produce some success which causes this process to begin all over again. For the sake of finality, send Favre to the Falcons. It has a nice ring to it.