Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Are we looking the other way?

Maybe there's nothing to it. Maybe he's a genetic freak of nature. Maybe he's a 38-year-old iron man who somehow was able to channel the Football Gods for one last glorious run.
Maybe there's nothing to it at all. But something, deep down, tells me otherwise. Something tells me that maybe Brett Favre's renaissance, and potentially a Super Bowl appearance for the ages against Tom Brady, isn't something to celebrated. It's something to be closely examined. And it's something that nobody wants to do.
Of course, we've been down this road before turning a blind eye to something that looks just a little bit strange. How could a guy who at 34 years old, and seemingly washed up, all of a sudden have a streak of absolute dominance? How could a guy reverse years of steady decline by posting his best season in almost five years? Haven't we seen this before with Roger Clemens?
We want to believe in the fairy tale despite life's overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Much like Bob Seger sometimes we don't want to know what we didn't know then. Cynicism surrounds our daily lives, and given the bulk of media that we consume on a daily basis, it's virtually impossible to escape it. From our president's sketchy foreign policy to news on the economy, from gas hitting $4/gallon to rapid inflation, there's quite a bit to be cynical about. Even stuff that's not that big of a deal (see Miley Cyrus's body double), we've decided to make a big deal.
But Brett Favre is different. Or so the sports media pundits would love to believe. I'll spare everyone the same thing you always hear about how he plays the game with a child-like innocence, and how everyone feels like they can relate to him and his struggles. That's all fine and good, and hey, I'd sit down and have a beer w/ him too, if that were permissable.
However, I can't help but wonder how a guy who's struggled for the last four to five years, inexplicably has reversed time so much so that play-by-play guys and color announcers are openly speaking of how he's playing like he's 28 and not 38. I mean, wasn't this the same guy that just a year ago was mentioned as being benched for Aaron Rodgers? Hadn't Brett Favre fallen so much that people were actually trying to get rid of the guy?
I've heard from some folks that perhaps Brett Favre's recent success is due to having a new coach in Mike McCarthy. McCarthy specifically told Favre that he doesn't have to be a hero and force the ball in spots that maybe he shouldn't. Some have also credited the new-found running game in the revelation that is Ryan Grant. Others still feel that he's gotten additional help from his wide receivers that he hadn't benefitted from in seasons' past. And these things are all true, no doubt.
But still, when Roger Clemens was 38 years old and flaming guys, everyone just assumed it was his supposed work ethic. Everyone just assumed it was b/c he played w/ such prolific offensive players like Jeter, Sheffield and Giambi, and later with Biggio, Berkman and Bagwell. Everyone just assumed it was just b/c he was naturally gifted, he was a pitcher more durable than Nolan Ryan, and that he was not only working harder, but he had just a little more guile than his younger peers. And those things were all true, no doubt.
But just b/c all of these things may be true, it doesn't mean that the media gets to shrug off what appears to be suspicious. It doesn't mean that we can't call into question something that looks odd. It doesn't even mean that Brett Favre's a bad guy, or that the sportswriters can't go out and have a beer w/ the guy at the end of the day.
But it does mean that if the Packers somehow beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl that Brett Favre will be hailed as the common man who beat the team with the asterisk on it. It means that Favre's fairy tale career would live happily ever after. Or until someone calls into question that fairy tale career, and all the stories in it.
Like I said, maybe there's nothing to it at all. Maybe Brett Favre really has appeased the Football Gods. Maybe he lives amongst the Football Gods. But that doesn't mean we should just accept "nothing to it at all" as fact.