Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Expectations of reactions, and reactions, to Favre's week one performance

The weirdest football columns I've seen after Sunday's games are those telling us to curb our enthusiasm about Brett Favre's performance. They are weird because I'm not sure how many people are really gushing over Favre's 14/21, 110 yard, 1 touchdown, 0 interception performance. These writers seem to be writing to the reaction they expect, not any reaction they've actually seen.

Sports Illustrated's Andrew Perloff tells us "Let's start with five Week 1 quarterback performances everyone will over-hype" and begins with Favre:

"He looks just fine as a caretaker against an opponent that can't stop the run and isn't a threat on offense. He won't have the luxury of sitting back against tougher competition."

In this case, I guess I'll just say Perloff made an inaccurate prediction: he tells us that this is a performance "everyone will over-hype," but he's just wrong. Certainly not "everybody" is overhyping it.

Yahoo!'s Dan Wetzel's column is titled "Too early to get excited over Favre." The column is fairly reasonable: the questions about Favre are how he'll hold up in December and January, not how he'll play in September (at least, those are my concerns). Like Perloff, he points out that the Browns were an easy opponent, and that Favre is going to face tougher teams this season. We know this. But Wetzel tells us:

"Vikings fans should temper their emotions because every thing always starts well with Favre. It’s the ending that gets dicey."


"There’s no reason to be displeased with Favre’s opener. There’s also no reason to be na├»ve."

Wetzel also expects gushing in the media that I'm not sure exists. Quoting Childress calling the performance "workmanlike" and using words like "uspectacular" and routine," Wetzel writes:

"This was a slightly more restrained – and honest – assessment than Favre will receive from his worshipping media crew."

I don't feel like making a survey of media reactions to Favre's game. What I will do here, however, is survey Viking bloggers' reactions. We're the fans: sure we're neurotic, but we're also the ones most likely to overreact to victory, aren't we? How many of us were gushing? Do we need to temper our emotions, to make sure we're not being naive? Here's a look at all the Viking blogs I have in the blogroll that wrote directly about the game.

Grant's Tomb: decidedly not gushing: DC didn't see anything that answered his questions about Favre.

Defensive Indifference: decidedly negative: Jason complains Favre didn't get down the field enough and didn't do anything Rosenfels or Jackson couldn't do in this game.

(just a side note: I'm speculating that against inferior opponents, the Vikings are going to try protect Favre, winning as often as they can with running and defense. When they need it--and when they're more comfortable in pass protection--they'll open up the pass more. That might be wishful thinking).

Daily Norseman: Anthony21 is sober about Favre ("unspectacular," "wasn't asked to do too much"), Gonzo praises Favre, but moderately, and devotes most of his attention to other Vikings.

The Viking Ship: The Jazzy One offers a fairly objective assessment, I think: praising what Favre did well, pointing out that there were some problems ("Brett just didn't seem to be on the same page with his receivers").

Vikings Gab: Adam Warwas is impressed with Favre: because he played like a game manager.

The Viking Age
: a couple days after the game, danzinksi is starting to believe that "this crazy Favre thing just might work." He's positive about what's going on, optimistic that this is a good situation.

Skol Vikes: Newt says little about Favre, but does believe strongly in the Vikings team.

Viking Nation: GB Nordic offers more praise for Favre as game manager.

Vikes Geek: Vikes Geek says little directly about Favre, focusing on Brad Childress.

Maybe Viking bloggers are not representative of most Viking fans (it is possible). And maybe Viking bloggers are more reasonable than national sports commentators (of course we are: we're awesome!!!!!). But I don't see Favre's performance being overhyped, and I don't see naive emotions that need to be tempered.

An extra thought
I think many people are responding to a reality that existed several years ago but doesn't anymore: a reality in which the majority of the mainstream media overpraised Favre and refused to acknowledge his flaws. But several years ago, a backlash really started to develop (prominently on the internet) against the media's treatment of Favre, to the point that complaints about the media coverage of Favre have become the cliche. Furthermore, Favre's behavior in recent years has led to a lot of criticism from mainstream media sources.

I also think/speculate, with no evidence, that the anti-Favre sentiment is behind this year's massive number of positive predictions for the Green Bay Packers, and for Aaron Rodgers specifically.


  1. PV/Joe:

    The link to my post about Sunday's game is actually a link to your post about Sunday's game.

  2. J'Rod9:09 PM

    I've also been noticing that the mainstream media has started to turn on Favre. It's much more balanced now; he's no longer simply the gun-slinging southern boy who loves the game. We still hear that but we also hear more criticism about his flip-flopping and holding teams hostage.

  3. Anonymous2:51 AM

    I'd say the topic of Favre has produced more bad sportswriting and broadcast commentary over the past 20 years than any other NFL topic. It's like Favre is an antirationality device designed in a lab to reduce people working for media companies to intellects on par with my cat. She can't figure out that her reflection in the window at night isn't another cat, and the media types can't figure out that Favre is just a human being playing quarterback, with no supernaturally good or bad characteristics.

    What I saw on Sunday was guy with an ocean of experience and somewhat declining, albeit still decent physical talents, play a conservative game with teammates who he is still pretty unfamiliar with, while also recognizing that some of his teammates have exceptional talent. Unfortunately, guys with an ocean of NFL experience tend to not stay healthy for a whole season, so the Vikings and Favre will need to get lucky in that regard.

  4. great write-up...have to disagree on the last point. the number of positive predictions for packers among national writers has a lot to do with the top-to-bottom young talent green bay acquired. the vikes are the most talented team in the division (perhaps in the nfc and even the league) but the packers are young in the right places... i like how overall the division has improved in leaps and bounds. and lot of that has to do with the packers starting to catch up with the vikes and the bears finally getting a qb (cutler will be fine).

  5. Peter8:37 AM

    Excellent post. It seems like so many people write without really thinking about it. They just write what's expected, and they write as though they're responding to what's expected. Dead on.

    The five exclamation points about bloggers being awesome were a nice touch.

    Like the commenter above, I also have to disagree with the last point. I think the Packers are being treated optimistically because they lost a lot of close games last year, went 13-3 the year before, and Rodgers put on an impressive show. Also, the defense switch being handled by Dom Capers seems to be a point of attention, but I honestly don't expect their defense to be THAT much improved that quickly. They'll score a lot of fantasy points, but they won't smother opponents to the point of low yardage and point totals. Few without a stake in the division, I hope, would dispute that the Vikings are on top until proven otherwise. It's clearly MIN > GB > CHI > DET, right?

  6. I, too, think the Packers are legitimately talented and a serious Super Bowl threat. I just wonder how many times in the past a team coming off a 6-10 year (with the exception of bad years because of injuries) gets picked by a massive number of sportswriters to be very successful, and particularly to win its conference. I also wonder how often commentators give a break to a QB for losing close games, rather than (unfairly) claiming it's his fault for not willing the team to wins (the media now seems to adore Rodgers). I could be wrong, which is why I call it speculation with no evidence.

    I could also be biased: for years I've thought there was a pro-Green Bay sentiment among a lot of national commentators (because they like the fans, the city, the stadium, the history, the public ownership, even the weather. I acknowledge it too: the Packers have a distinct "culture"). For a long time the pro-Green Bay sentiment and pro-Favre sentiment were tangled up in one string. Now that they are separate, I see the pro-Favre string coming apart and the pro-Green Bay sentiment sticking.

  7. Anonymous10:58 AM

    I really thought Favre's performance was great. When he was called on to make some difficult throws, he did it with the kind of zip and quickness that I honestly have not seen out of a Vikings QB in awhile (most notably the long first down conversion to Percy). Even two of his incompletions to Sidney Rice (one where Sidney may have stayed in bounds and might have been worth a challenge if we still had one...sucks that we lost it on that fumble call which was a good challenge) looked real good. I'm excited if we can run the offense with a lot of dump offs and screens..because honestly getting the ball into the hands of AD, Chester, and Percy as much as possible sounds like a winning strategy.

  8. Anonymous1:01 PM

    Danzinski should lay off the homophobic slurs. Today is the fourth one I can think of (albeit also the mildest). Or I will sic Esera Tuolo on him. I otherwise enjoy his commentary.

  9. Anonymous6:45 AM

    In a lot of ways the Idea of Favre has always been entirely different than Actual Favre. The old Idea of Favre was this sandlot good ol' boy who threw countless tds with his boyish grin. The new idea is this aging gunslinger who can't escape the Big Error. So now when he manages somehow someway to avoid the Big Error its a victory in itself. "Well, what I'm impressed with is what he didn't do." or "Well now we see Brett Favre can manage a game." As if Brett Favre has never managed a game in his career. It's ridiculous. Even this "will he avoid the Big Decline" late in the year is based on really simplified causality. "Favre is Old, he Runs Down." But you've got a climate now when somebody doesn't trash Favre it's because of a naive bias.