Earlier this week, Brett Favre went on Joe Buck's new HBO show (who thought that was a good idea?) and admitted that the rumors are true: he's hoping to play football again, specifically with the Minnesota Vikings. As reported in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune:
"Brett Favre ended weeks of silence Monday by making it clear that if his surgically repaired right arm is healthy, he wants to return to the NFL -- as a member of the Vikings. During an interview on HBO, the retired quarterback admitted it 'makes perfect sense' for him to play in Minnesota, even referring to the Vikings as 'we' at one point."
There was no doubt much rejoicing from one, John Madden, Favre's biggest cheerleader, and also from Vikings fans, who apparently believe their team will be improved with Methusela's younger brother, a/k/a Brett Favre, under center, but I've reached my complete and utter saturation point. What comes beyond saturation? Whatever that is, that's where I am with Favre. I'm anticipatorily over-loaded on future SportsCenter stories about him, more tired debates on the Sports Reporters, and sideline reports detailing his relationships with new teammates, coaches and even equipment managers. I'm dyspeptic when I think ahead to the Vikings Week 4 prime-time match up versus the Green Bay Packers, which will no doubt bring pre-game hype to heretofore unreached levels of inanity.
Somewhere along the way, Favre morphed from a mere-mortal quarterback into the gun-slinger monolith, unwilling to give up on the mystique of his own greatness, even as his abilities manifestly diminished. This version of Favre -- the older, annoying version that tearfully retires and un-retires annually -- has been so omnipresent that it retroactively taints my happier memories.
Every time I even hear his name, I make an unpleasant face, like the one I would make if I had to suck on an aspirin tablet. It's the exact same face I make when I see Madonna.
Tragically cool music snobs will deny ever enjoying the Material Girl, but I don't know anybody who didn't dance up a sweat to her first clubby, catchy self-titled disc back in the early '80's. Oh, sure, Madonna made mad missteps. For every "Express Yourself," there was a "Papa Don't Preach," and for every charming "League of Their Own" performance, there was a ludicrous stinker like "Body of Evidence." She produced some absolutely painful drivel, but she also had moments of greatness. She made some great dance music and dominated pop culture for a long time. Personally, I counted "Like a Prayer" as one of my top 10 favorite pop songs of all time. If anybody bothered to ask, which nobody did. Just saying.
Somewhere along the line, Madonna crossed a line and her miscues started to outnumber the moments of artistic genius; her knack for recognizing a trend just nanoseconds before it happened and then capitalizing, turned into an egomaniacal, solipsistic need to create the trend, to actually BE the trend. She tried on any pose, any outfit, any style to seem relevant. Heck, she tried on Kabbalah, and she even tried on a phony British accent when she started loafing with Rupert Everett. On a visit to the Holy Land several years ago, she asked to be called 'Esther', about which one of my wittier friends commented, "She's so biblical."
At some point, the current Madonna incarnation -- the yoga obsessed, Kaballah quoting, third-world child adopting, anorexic, surgically altered, A-Rod canoodling Madonna -- consumed and ruined the earlier eras. I deleted "Like a Prayer" from my iPod running mix.
Likewise, I used to love Favre. He was my favorite NFL player who didn't play in Pittsburgh. It was easy enough. I always had a soft spot for the Packers: the appeal of Green Bay as an NFL city, the charming chant of the locals, "Go Pack Go," Lombardi and Starr, the odd sartorial splendor of the green and the yellow, the frozen tundra and all that.
Then there was Favre himself, funny, reckless, fun-loving, with a canon for an arm. He won a lot and when he did, it was often in dramatic fashion. It was flat-out fun to watch Favre and the Packers. Back then, the gunslinger routine was fresh and organic.
Like Madonna, Brett made a lot of missteps along the way. His 464 career touchdown passes rank as the most for any QB; of course, his 310 career interceptions rank at the top, too. He won one Super Bowl but there are those who think he could have, in fact, should have had more. There were times when he carried his team, elevated them to heights unattainable without him. And then, like Madonna in her "Swept Away"/"Die Another Day" phase, there were games that he threw away: the 2003/2004 divisional playoff game versus the Eagles, when he threw a late game interception that lead to the winning kick for the Eagles; or the 2007/2008 NFC Championship game in which he tossed two killer picks that sent the Packers into the off-season and the New York Giants into the Super Bowl.
The thing is, he always threw bad picks. That's just who he was and his penchant for the big mistake used to be counter-balanced by some entertaining heroics. But, as with Madonna, Favre's stinkers became more frequent and his moments of greatness more remote. The 2008 Favre devoured the 1996 Favre.
What could a return possibly accomplish that he hasn't already accomplished? Another MVP or Super Bowl title are highly unlikely. And besides, how many of those does he need to solidify his already secured spot in the pantheon? And, truly, how many more hit records are in Madonna's future? At this point, they both seem like the party guests who see you cleaning up, yawning, even brushing and flossing, but don't know that it's time to go.