A few years ago, when Brett Favre retired (for the first time) from my beloved Green Bay Packers, I wrote that sports was weakened in a serious way by his retirement. Baseball was awash in the steroid scandal. Michael Vick was on trial for his dog-fighting ring. I’m just re-reading that post now – I said there were still a few players in sports who still had my admiration…I made specific reference to both Manny Ramirez and LeBron James…oh, how times have changed.
I bemoan all those players who hang on past their time. Or, more specifically, those who use artificial means to hang on past their time. Take away the last nine years of Roger Clemens’ career. Or Barry Bonds. Or countless others. Take away those years, and they’re hall of famers. But they stayed. And they persisted. And they had the best years of their lives. And now they are not hall of famers. They are steroid users, permanently tainted by their own success.
And now we get Brett Favre, who hung on and hung on and never retires. A Favre who had an unbelievable season last year and who really had no reason to retire, in that his skills are as sharp as ever. And there is no steroid scandal in the wings, nothing to taint his on-field performance. Instead, we get a scandal of a different sort. A text-messaging attempted infidelity scandal which, at the moment, remains unproven allegations.
Had he retired last season, no one would have cared. This never would have come up. And yet – he’s still around, still firing that ball with the arm of a 20-year-old. On the field, despite a sub-par year thus far, he still looks far younger than his 41 years. Off the field, however, he now looks like a 100-year-old caricature, a confused and irritable Gabby Hayes type. You can just picture him looking at a cell-phone-texting machine and saying “consarn these newfangled gizmos! Why can’t I jist take a polaroid of my wang-dangler and drop it in her mailbox?” He then probably added “hyuk hyuk”.
That’s what’s so bonkers about this story. He starts out as a 13-year-old. Going through intermediaries who approach the woman and suggest she might like the old man. Someone’s got the hots for you Jenn Sterger! Here’s a note. Now, just tick the box “yes I like you too” or “no I don’t like you that way” and we’ll take the note back to him. these advances apparently don’t work. Messages are left. Those don’t work either. So…what to do? Assume that it’s just not meant to be, and move on? Or up the ante in the stupidest way possible? Dude. It’s fourth and thirty-six. Just punt.
When a woman has said no to you, over and over, through avoidance, or through intermediaries, or by ignoring your voicemails, what would possess a person to take it one step further and send her a picture of your penis? What woman has ever, in her life, wanted to see a picture of a penis? What could possibly be the “good” outcome from this? What could possibly make a man believe that sending a woman a penis-picture would change her mind? Oh, well if it looks like that, then I’m in!
I’ll tell you what can make a man think things like this – dementia. It’s the only logical explanation. Favre is an iron man. He has played every single snap in every single game for many, many years. He has taken many blows to the head. And early-onset dementia is one of the reasons the NFL is cracking down on hits to the head this year. What other possibility is there? That Favre has the IQ of a box of Triscuits? That this has worked before? None of those things is plausible. No, the only explanation is that he’s a really, really old man.
And so, we have another athlete who has hung on just one season too many. He wasn’t risking getting caught with performance-enhancing drugs, or getting caught having an actual affair. All he was risking was being found out for the complete and total idiot that he apparently is. When you’re famous, and you send a text-picture of your penis to someone who has already made it clear she wants nothing to do with you, what do you see being the final outcome? The publicizing of your penis-pics is the only way this could, eventually, end.
Other athletes have chances for redemption. Kobe Bryant has won a bunch of titles since that infidelity incident (and rape accusation). Tiger Woods needs only to win a few majors for many people to forgive and forget. But Favre IS an old man. He has one shot, and it’s this year. But now, if he wins the Super Bowl with the Vikings (and he won’t – but IF), where’s the story book ending? He can raise the trophy and jump into his teammates arms and whoop it up and all that.
But as soon as he hugs his wife in triumph, the minds of 50 million people are going to go instantly to the more enduring image of his final season – a pasty, middle aged man lying on a bed, masturbating lazily in crocs. And taking a picture of it, because that’s the way to get into a girl’s pants.
That being said…I get it.