Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Re.: Brett Favre

When it comes to picking a team, I always think talent, experience, production, and a history of clutch performances trump everything else. Yes, chemistry, hustle, and other intangibles are important but if you don't have raw talent, well, in professional athletics you're not going to go too far.

So I find it odd that Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy met with Brett Favre for six hours in what he called “brutally honest” conversations, and came to the conclusion that Favre wasn't in the right mind-set. Who cares really? Nostalgia aside, Favre took the team to last year's NFC championship game, which is no easy task in the NFL, he is a leader, and a three-time MVP.

Packers management has said if Favre returns it would be "in a different role than he was" because the team had committed to [Aaron] Rodgers," which basically means they are putting all their chips behind an inexperienced QB, almost out of spite.

Because Favre is such a celebrated figure, the story has gone beyond the sports pages, and become a sign of our changing athletic times. What interests me is the concept of legacy in sports. The Green Bay Packers management says it is worried about Favre's legacy.

"You don't worry about my legacy," Favre said. "And, you know, it's a bunch of bull. It's all it is."

Favre is right. Legacy has become a meaningless term. With publicity surrounding athletes personal failings, and the rise and fall of Barry Bonds, Marion Jones, and numerous other athletes, sports legacies are not what they used to be, and probably never will exist as we once knew them, and the displacement of Favre--one of the most popular athletes of the last two decades--proves that even legends are expendable, even when they make as innocent of a mistake as retiring too early.

If Favre plays for another team--as did Joe Montana (the Chiefs), and Johhny Unitas (the Chargers)--it will be odd, almost sad, to see him in another uniform. As for Mike McCarthy, who has done wonders with the Packers, he was put into a difficult position. He probably didn't want Favre controlling the team. But McCarthy is a brave soul to dismiss Favre, a legend, for Aaron Rodgers, a quarterback you have probably never heard of. He has just increased the scrutiny on Rodgers 100-fold, and put enormous pressure on himself.


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