Favre gets the attention he wants during one-day retirement
Day 2 of Year 3 of the Brett Favre retirement watch was mostly a quiet one down in Mississippi.
Just Favre sitting in a recliner on his farm, sending a few text messages and watching the big screen as ESPN played a continuous loop of his five greatest passes.
Things weren’t so relaxed up in Minnesota. There, teammates ran sprints and anxiously counted down the minutes to the first bathroom break so they could gather and analyze the latest batch of missives waiting on their phones.
Quarterback wannabe Tavaris Jackson swatted a few mosquitoes as he looked at his.
“Hey Tav, hope things r well,” it read. “Just funnin’ u ystdy about that quittin’ thing. But, hey, enugh about me. Enjoy the preseason! U guys r the best!”
Vikings coach Brad Childress waited until lunch to read his.
“What’s up, Chil? Throwin’ a few passes to the boys down here tdy and u know what? They liked me! They really liked me! But, hey, enugh about me. BTW, did you watch ESPN? 17 different analysts talking ‘bout me! 17! All Brett all the time baby!”
Owner Zygi Wilf had his assistant read his to him.
“My man, Ziggy! U hear about my ankle? Not so good, but u know me. I’m tough. Never know, a few weeks more rest and a few more zeros on my contract and it could get better. But, hey, enugh about me. Oh, almost 4got, any chance ur private jet is avble, say, the 1st week of Sept?”
So many texts, so little time. Pushing all those buttons had to make it hard for Favre to concentrate on the real business of the day—watching the talking heads on TV fall all over each other praising his magnificence.
“Just another great moment in Brett’s career,” one screamed as the video rolled.
“It’s so much fun to talk about,” another said, smiling as if he really believed it.
Not to worry. A quick check of the calendar shows 36 days before the Vikings head down to New Orleans for a Thursday night rematch of the NFC championship game that opens the NFL season.
Plenty of time left for even more fun. Plenty of time to babble on incessantly about Favre’s future.
And plenty of time for Favre to sit in the recliner and send texts.
Don’t worry if you’ve seen this act before, or that it all seems like a bad summer rerun. The script has been tweaked, and some of the names changed to protect the innocent.
Only this time it’s not a drama. It’s become a comedy.
No, make that a farce. One in which we already know the ending.
The latest edition of “As The Vikings Turn” will end with Favre under center Sept. 9 in the Superdome, just as most of his teammates expected before they began to get texts from Favre indicating otherwise. By then his legend will have grown into almost mythical proportions as the talking heads constantly proclaim his greatness and every video clip from the past shows a completed pass.
Sure, Favre could have made the rest of the summer easier by simply saying he would show up when the preseason ends and everyone would have gone about their business. But that would not have satisfied his seemingly insatiable need to be needed, and it would not have brought the camera crews down to Hattiesburg for breathless daily updates about his status.
It also would not have gotten him a raise from the $13 million he was supposed to make this season. Favre may act like a country bumpkin, but by the time the drama queen of the South gets done with this acting job, he’s likely to be several million dollars richer.
It helps that the Vikings have no choice but to play along with his game. They’ve invested their short-term future in the 40-year-old, and whether he plays or not is probably the difference between them winning the NFC North or being an 8-8 team. It also may play a role in whether they can jumpstart their bid for a new stadium in Minneapolis.
So there was Favre on the practice field Wednesday at Oak Grove High School, throwing balls to some kids and throwing curves to everyone else. A day after sending text messages to some teammates telling them his ankle wasn’t healing properly and that he wouldn’t be back, he denied any such thing as he left in his pickup truck.
His agent, meanwhile, put yet another spin on things by saying Favre would play if the ankle cooperates.
Let’s hope he does. Putting up with his machinations over the next few weeks may be difficult, but the thought of him sobbing uncontrollably through another retirement news conference borders on stomach turning.
Then again, maybe he won’t hold one when he’s finally done. Maybe he’ll just send out another text message and quietly fade away.
“I’m quitting,” it could say. “But, hey, enugh about me.”
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press.