Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Taking Favre's name in vain

I hate Brett Favre. It is the irrational hatred shared by most Viking, Lion, and Bear fans (and probably also the Bucs of the old NFC Central. I don't know--do Niner fans hate him too?). I admit that this hatred is irrational, and that if he played in the AFC, I would either like him or be indifferent to him.

What is not irrational, I think, is my hatred of broadcasters who salivate for Favre. I simply despise the TV broadcasters who blame his interceptions on WRs, or who credit his mistakes to his "gunslinger" attitude, or who talk about how much fun he has, who basically elevate him to the status of some sort of football holy man (Theismann once said he wished everybody in America could sit down and have a conversation with Brett Favre, as if contact with this angel of purity would have a lasting impact on us mere mortals).

In the last few seasons (particularly last season, when Favre threw 29 interceptions on a 4-12 team), broadcasters have remained true to their pattern of defending everything Favre does. In the Packers' playoff loss to the Vikings at Lambeau after the '04 season, Favre threw an underhanded pass well past the line of scrimmage that might have cost his team a TD. The announcers laughed. Peter King continues to flirt with Favre through his columns, even when he seems not to be talking about Favre.

But in the last few years, more people have been willing to lay blame on Favre for his interceptions and team record. Not broadcasters, of course, but plenty of writers (especially on the internet) were able to recognize that Favre's interceptions may not show a gunslinger's attitude, but simple recklessness. Writers have been willing to admit that the fault for his picks lies with him, not his WRs, and that his wild passes actually cost the Packers some wins in 2005.

In the past few seasons, some have been willing to criticize Favre the man too, for his handling of Javon Walker's holdout and his Hamlet-like indecision regarding retirement. These things don't concern me much--"The play's the thing," of course--but it's notable that people are willing to share criticism. But through a link via PFT comes this article by Vic Carucci. Carucci begins,

The problem with Brett Favre taking his time to divulge whether he will retire or return for one more season with the Green Bay Packers is that it has made him more of a target of criticism than the object of affection and admiration he has been for the better part of 15 years.

Carucci shows his concern that Favre might actually be a target of criticism! Hm, an NFL Qb a target of criticism? That's unconscionable! He's been the "object of affection and admiration" for years--he simply must avoid doing anything that would make him the object of criticism!

Does Carucci think that Favre's overtime interception lob in the '03 playoffs, or his 4 INTs against the Vikings in the '04 playoffs, or his 29 INTs in 2005 are enough to make him a "target of criticism"? I do, but apparently it's only himming and hawing on retirement that can do so for the great Favre.

Carucci ends by giving Favre his advice:

Here's some additional sound advice, Brett. Let's not stretch this out too much longer. You should not be more of a target of criticism than the object of affection and admiration.

Yes, Carucci wants Favre to be an object of affection and admiration. He doesn't want him to be a target of criticism. Note, Carucci is not saying that Favre is doing anything worthy of criticism, but that he will be the "target" of criticism that Carucci implies is unfair:

But the more days and weeks that pass without a decision from Favre, the less fairness there will be in every assessment. Perception has taken charge of this story.

Carucci just wants to preserve Favre's sterling reputation--that's the reason he's written this column.

Frankly, I don't think it's that big a deal what Favre is doing (though it may be hamstringing the Packers' plans, and there's definitely some hypocrisy after the way he criticized Walker for putting self above team). I'd rather see Favre criticized for all the crazy interceptions and erratic playoff performances. But I welcome any criticism of Favre, after years and years of listening to how perfect and wonderful and flawless he is as a man and a player.

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