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Favre gets choked up, Brewers and Badgers gag in 2007

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Chris Jenkins/Associated Press
December 27, 2007
— Brett Favre rang in the new year with televised tears, getting all choked up in an interview with NBC as he pondered what seemed like the end of his career after the Green Bay Packers’ victory in Chicago to end the 2006 season.

A year later, Favre is experiencing an unlikely personal resurgence. And the Packers are going back to the playoffs.


Bears coach Lovie Smith recently joked that when he heard about Favre’s emotional display a year ago, he was hoping he was rid of a major divisional headache.


“I tricked him,” Favre said. “That was all part of the plan.”


Now Smith has simply accepted reality: Favre will never retire.


“When your No. 1 rival loses a player like that, I mean, you’re waiting for those type of days,” Smith said. “But I’ve gone past that. I think Brett Favre will play forever, so we’re just going to have to deal with him now.”


The Bears were just about the only team that was able to deal with Favre and the Packers this season. Going into their regular-season finale against Detroit, the Packers’ only other loss was to Dallas.


Everybody else had trouble stopping a pass-first offense that sets up wide receivers to run wild after the catch and a defense that keeps the score under control so Favre doesn’t feel like he has to force a ball deep into double-coverage on every play.


Just how unlikely is this resurgence, you ask?


Favre certainly didn’t see it coming, as he made clear when he stomped his feet over the front office’s decision not to complete a trade with the Oakland Raiders for wide receiver Randy Moss in the offseason.


“I’m not getting any younger, and I think everyone knows that,” Favre told the Biloxi (Miss.) Sun-Herald in May. “I don’t have five years to rebuild. No one in Green Bay is saying rebuild, but it’s hard to look at where we are going and say, ’How can they not be rebuilding?”’


The Packers’ stunning turnaround provided some hope in a 2007 sports year in Wisconsin that otherwise was marked by high hopes that ultimately led to disappointment for the Milwaukee Brewers and the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball and football teams.


Brewers pitcher Ben Sheets was injured – again. Coach Terry Stotts was fired as the Milwaukee Bucks played large chunks of last season without several injured starters. John Jones, the designated successor to Packers top executive Bob Harlan, was sent packing.


Oh, and depending on whom you believe, Favre’s agent might have asked for a trade after the Packers didn’t land Moss.


Sheesh, no wonder Yi Jianlian didn’t want to come here.


So, with a tip o’ the Cheesehead to Esquire magazine, we present the Dubious Achievements in Wisconsin sports for 2007:


FIRST RULE ABOUT FIGHT CLUBHOUSE: DON’T TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUBHOUSE: After Brewers players got in a heated confrontation with manager Ned Yost in the dugout tunnel during an Aug. 2 game against the New York Mets, Yost abruptly walked out of a short postgame news conference. Meanwhile, most of the players claimed they didn’t see it. Yost later would complain that media coverage of the incident was inaccurate.


IT’S EITHER A BREAKFAST CEREAL OR LATIN FOR “YOU’RE ABOUT TO LOSE TO UNLV”: Wisconsin star Alando Tucker referred to the Badgers’ first-round opponent in the NCAA tournament, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, as “Corpus Crispy.”


POKE-MAN: Packers middle linebacker Nick Barnett, after being poked in the eye by Oakland Raiders center Jeremy Newberry: “Centers don’t like me, man. It’s just because they have to deal with me. I’m not saying I’m the greatest player in the world, but when you’ve got to deal with a guy that’s running all over the field making your fat butt tired, I wouldn’t like it, either. I might poke myself in the eye.”


THAT ICE SCULPTURE’S NOT GOING TO CARVE ITSELF, YOU KNOW: After expressing his dissatisfaction over the Packers’ failure to land Moss, Favre told the Sun-Herald he planned to skip a Packers minicamp to help plan parties for his daughter’s upcoming high school graduation.


SMALL CONCERN: After the Bucks traded for Earl Boykins in January, Stotts said the 5-foot-5 guard’s size shouldn’t make him a defensive liability. “Let’s face it: He’s not coming to a defensive juggernaut,” Stotts said.


HEY, THE IRISH WON’T LOSE A BOWL THIS YEAR: Decrying a Bowl Championship Series rule that gives Notre Dame nearly the same treatment as a major conference champion, Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said, “I understand why certain teams get exemptions. I don’t understand why Notre Dame does. If they want to play by conference rules, join a conference. They don’t take, maybe, into consideration past bowl history. Notre Dame hasn’t won in the last nine bowl appearances, or whatever it is.”


THIS WOULD NEVER HAPPEN TO DICK TRICKLE: Rushing back from a racetrack in California to make the start of the NASCAR Busch Series race at the Milwaukee Mile in June, driver Denny Hamlin’s helicopter couldn’t land because the track’s helipad was blocked by parked cars.


TELL THAT TO THE CAST OF “BAYWATCH”: Meanwhile, driver Carl Edwards had to sprint through the Milwaukee Mile garage area to make it to his race car in time for qualifying. “There’s no way to look cool and run your (tail) off,” Edwards said.


AND THE WINNER IS: A substitute driver, Aric Almirola, started the race in Hamlin’s place, and Hamlin made it to the track in time to get behind the wheel after a crash on lap 57. Hamlin went on to win the race – though the victory technically was credited to Almirola, who walked away sulking after his team forced him to pull over and get out of the car.


TRUTH OR DARE: Asked how his public frustration over the Packers not trading for Moss might affect his relationships with teammates – implying that his pining for Moss meant he didn’t think his current offensive players were good enough – Favre reacted sternly. “You show me where I said anything about the guys I play with,” Favre said. “I want you to show me. Not once did I say anything about the guys I play with. And I know that has been brought up, and I want proof.”


UH, EXCEPT FOR THAT: “Our offense struggled last season,” Favre told the Sun-Herald in May. “If it were not for our defense, we would not have won eight games. Right now, it’s hard to be optimistic.”


THEY’LL MANAGE: With the Brewers fighting for a playoff spot in the final week of the season, Yost was kicked out of three games and suspended for another. Yost felt his team wasn’t getting the respect it deserved from umpires. “If the truth gets you in trouble, then the heck with it,” Yost said.


MILLER TIME: Brewers catcher Damian Miller also was thrown out of one of those games, a 13-5 victory over St. Louis. Miller argued with plate umpire Phil Cuzzi after striking out, then was tossed when he restarted his argument with Cuzzi as he walked out to take his place behind the plate to begin the next inning. Asked if he put on all his catcher’s gear between innings knowing he probably would get ejected right away, Miller said yes. “Pretty much,” Miller joked. “There was some premeditation.”


WHEEL OF (MIS)FORTUNE: Asked how many Chicago Bears starting quarterbacks he could name during his tenure as the Packers’ starter, Favre boldly said he was up for the challenge: “I could probably name a pretty good bit because I consider myself a historian. ... Uh, let’s see. Harbaugh. Grossman. Was McMahon, was he a starter? I don’t think so. Peter Tom Willis, maybe? Is that one?”


JEOPARDY!: A reporter spotted Favre Moses Moreno. “Yeah, him too,” Favre said. “Henry Burris maybe?”


PRESS YOUR LUCK: Another reporter stumped Favre with Craig Krenzel. “I wouldn’t have guessed that one,” Favre said. “I’ve heard the name, but I wouldn’t have guessed that one. What’s the other one, from Stanford? Stenstrom. Was he one? There’s one you guys didn’t know. I’m struggling here.”


THIS NEVER HAPPENS TO SPORTSWRITERS, FOR SOME REASON: Yost broke his collarbone after he tripped and fell during a jog near Wrigley Field in April.


OOPS! GRANDMA CELEBRATED EARLY: In a move that made Detroit Pistons fans suddenly seem sophisticated and classy by comparison, a Milwaukee Brewers fan started a Web site encouraging fans to “pee your pants” if the team made the playoffs.


SCOUT’S HONOR: In a section detailing allegations against new Milwaukee Brewers closer Eric Gagne, the Mitchell Report cited a Nov. 1, 2006, e-mail exchange between Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein and team scout Mark Delpiano.


Epstein asked about Gagne’s potential association with steroid use, and Delpiano responded: “Some digging on Gagne and steroids IS the issue. Has had a checkered medical past throughout career including minor leagues. Lacks the poise and commitment to stay healthy, maintain body and re invent self. ... Personally, durability (or lack of) will follow Gagne.”


OH, YOU MEANT THAT IN A BAD WAY?: Epstein traded for Gagne last year.


HARRELL HEARS A BOO: Trying to placate an ornery mob of Packers fans after taking unhyped Tennessee defensive tackle Justin Harrell in the first round of the NFL draft, Packers general manager Ted Thompson explained that he considered Harrell the best value on the board and a potential top-10 pick if he hadn’t missed most of the previous season because of an injury. “I was trying to get them to quit booing me,” Thompson joked.


YOU WANT SIZZLE? TRY PONDEROSA, PAL: Thompson didn’t agree with a reporter’s assessment that his draft picks had more substance than sizzle. “I have sizzle,” Thompson said. “I just don’t show it very often.”


ENJOY THE SILENCE: Asked about Thompson’s somewhat media-shy personality, Thompson’s former coach with the Houston Oilers, O.A. “Bum” Phillips, said, “The less you say, the less you have to take back.”



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