ROMAN: Once beloved, Favre now is fans’ enemy

David Roman

So he’s back again. Like Heidi and Spencer and that mosquito bite on the back of your leg, Brett Favre simply refuses to go away. First, he retired admirably after leading the Packers to the NFC Championship Game in 2007. Media swooned and fans cried along with him as he said he had nothing left. He was the Sportsman of the Year for Sports Illustrated, and his mark as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL History seemed to be set. Then he pulled a Jordan or a Jay-Z, deciding he had more gas left in his tank, hoping to play one more year for the Packers. But the Packers had a young hotshot in Aaron Rodgers whose time had more than come, and the Packers had to make the difficult decision to trade him to the Jets. After an up and down season, he retired once again – this time to much less accolades but still seen in an overall positive light. Then, he pulled something that wasn’t a Jordan or a Jay-Z or even a Rolling Stone. He pulled a Benedict Arnold.

Favre signing with the Vikings in the past two weeks sent ripples throughout the NFL. Stories about whether he would last for an entire season flooded the papers, as well as reports that the Vikings’ locker room wasn’t enthused about changing quarterbacks. Some said that Favre made the Vikings into an immediate Super Bowl contender, a massive improvement over the inexperienced Sage Rosenfels and the light armed Tavaris Jackson. Some said the move was questionable, seeing Favre as either too old or too injury prone. The quarterback whose number was to be retired at Lambeau Field, the man who bled green and gold, was now wearing the hated Viking purple, leaving cheeseheads everywhere confused, heartbroken and bitter.

Loyalty is often discussed in sports. Many claim that loyalty doesn’t exist in sports anymore – that it is simply another business. While cynical, it is often true, nowadays, with organizations willing to pamper a player when he’s on a hot streak, only to reject or cut him when he’s having a rough year.

For example, after giving his heart, soul and career to the Seattle Mariners, Bret Boone was cut from the team in 2005 because of his age as well as his declining batting average. Similarly, fans can turn on players just as quickly. Mark Bellhorn, a World Series hero for the Red Sox in 2004, was booed out of town the next season. Donovan McNabb is constantly questioned by fans in Philadelphia, even though he has the third best win percentage for quarterbacks with over a hundred starts in the NFL, only behind Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Players can often be glorified and then dumped within a few years in the league, which makes loyalty seem unimportant.

But Favre was different. He wasn’t spit on or hassled by the fans, but he was loved unconditionally. Fans built statues, tattooed their bodies and named children after him. Even through the bad times when the team took a downturn and Favre’s statistics seemed to dip, the fans were there to support him. He practically became a member of every Packers fan’s family. Also, while some say the Packers’ organization mistreated him in not accepting him back after he retired, they had held off Aaron Rodgers’ development in order to allow him to play longer, which is a major managerial risk. Similarly, they never dropped him in the waning seasons of his career, when the team struggled to reach the playoffs before 2007. For a professional athlete, he received probably the most respect from a fan base outside of Derek Jeter. Yet he signed with the rival.

He has said that signing with the Vikings wasn’t about revenge against the team that traded him, but because he wanted another Super Bowl, that his daughter told him to. But even if you think the Packers were in the wrong for trading Favre, what he did was wrong. Most athletes don’t get the pure admiration the Packers fans gave him. Instead of giving that back to them, instead of respecting them, he looked past them to fulfill his own wants and needs. While loyalty is often lost in sports, he rceeived it, but he didn’t give it back. No one knows how the Vikings will do this year, or how Favre will do. What is certain, though, is that in 2007 he was a Packer icon and highly respected athlete. Now? Only time will tell.


David Roman is a junior psychology and sociology major from Windham, NH. He can be reached at [email protected]