Paoletti: In Favre's world, football seems secondary


Paoletti: In Favre's world, football seems secondary

By Mary Paoletti

FOXBORO -- "Going into the tunnel on the cart I, thought to myself for a brief second: 'What in the world am I doing?' "

A pregnant question posed from Brett Favre on Sunday night. It's a shame nobody asked if he came up with an answer. It certainly isn't "Football," plain and simple, the way he tries to make it seem.

"Here I am, 20 years in the league," he said after Minnesota's 28-18 loss to New England. "I don't know how many games . . . a lot . . . I still feel like I can play at a high level. I think what would keep most guys out for a long time obviously hasn't kept me out. Call it dumb, call it hard-headed, call it what you want -- maybe all of the above -- I love to compete."

He was outdone again this weekend.

The Vikings are now 2-5 and Favre's pride was crushed by a blow to the face in the fourth quarter. The hit by Patriots defensive tackle Myron Pryor was clean; the laceration to Favre's chin accidental. After the QB tried to get up and crumbled again to the ground, teammate Steve Hutchinson tried to pull Favre up by the back of the jersey but was waved off. Number 4 was in some kind of excruciating pain.

A groan of 'Oh, God. What now?' rumbled through the stadium.

Two trainers helped Favre to his feet and off the field. Eventually, a cart rolled him into the tunnel, away from the football game.

And so the stage was set for next week's saga. Cue the cameras.

"No, I dont want to make a big deal out of it," Favre said in the postgame.

Part of you wants to believe him. You watch him at the podium and it looks like good ol' Brett: no suit but jeans (Wranglers?), sage sweater over a charcoal tee, close-cropped hair and a six-thirty shadow on his chin. The hair is more gray now than when he took the Packers' podium, but when he talks about running bootlegs you can almost imagine him in his Green and Gold glory.


It's never just about football with Favre anymore. How about that for irony? That's why he came back in the first place: love of the game. That need to stay connected (or the fear of being disconnected) from the NFL forced Favre to forgo a graceful exit and now it's all a mess.

There's always some other dramatic element; an injury, a scandal, someone crying or lying. There are cryptic interviews given from an idling truck. At some point, the team and his regular-season streak hangs in the balance. There is a triumphant return. The cameras will pan to Deanna, hands clasped together over her heart.

Another letdown and another good reason for it.

Even as old news it's a fascinating scene. Favre knows he's screwed up (J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets!). He crafts rationalizations like an addict. There's such a haze of humanity about him that a Vikings' loss can disappear in the smoke.

It did on Sunday night.

"I don't know what else to say," began one of Favre's ramblings. "I was shocked I was able to play and move around the way I was in spite of stress fractures in his foot and ankle. My prayers were answered. I wanted a chance to play at a high enough level and give us a chance to win, that was my main concern. I didn't want to play just to play. I didn't want to come in for one play, to get a start. I wanted to come in, help this team win."

He did have a solid game. Favre looked as sharp and in control against New England as he had in weeks, completing 22 passes for 259 yards. His lone interception was a ball that bounced off Percy Harvin's chest and landed in Devin McCourty's arms. More a freak play than anything.

But the Vikings didn't win and he should have had to answer for it. Instead, he was asked about his growing list of injuries and delivered a treatise about being tough.

" . . . There is nothing like competing. But, then again, there is nothing worse than losing. So weighing that, and for the physical side of it, I really can't complain. I probably should. I played with a broken foot and I am getting eight stitches in my chin and then the elbow I have been battling tendinitis. I thought I threw the ball as well as I have thrown it in quite awhile."

You catch yourself staring at his near-beard when he talks. There's still some blood around the stitches on his chin.

What was coach Brad Childress' answer about if Favre will play next week? "Let's have a little history, let's look a little bit back. You could probably venture, take a little guess, whether you thought he would go,'' Childress said. "I think he probably takes a swing at it next week."

Of course he will. Favre's strength is his weakness. The subtext in his comments aren't hard to read: I belong here. I'm tougher than anyone. Enough about mistakes. Why do you want me to fail? Every time I go down I get back up. I won't fail. You'll see.

"I didnt go through the mock game yesterday," said Favre. "I missed Wednesday and Thursday. I just went out for the last 10 minutes of practice. I don't know what to say. The foot is still broken; it is a clear break. It probably should hurt worse than it does.

"I don't know what to say. So, to be able to come out and play and to give us a chance to win and play at a high enough level, you know . . . Monday and Tuesday I couldn't even walk."

The self-defense that nobody asked for dragged on.

Eventually, he hit on playoff possibilities: "I think this team is capable of it, but I am not going to sit here and sound like Herm Edwards or Jim Mora, either. We have to win a game. No secret there."

And Randy Moss's quiet night: "If teams line up and play bump-and-run on Moss, no help over the top, I'd throw it to him every time. And we are doing some things from a route standpoint, by Randy's coverage what he is drawing, it is enabling our other guys to get open."

But the X's and O's almost sounded out of place. Nobody asked him much about playing the Patriots and he didn't have too much to say. That's just not Brett Favre's game anymore.

So what in the world is he doing?

Mary Paoletti can be reached at Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti.

Rob Gronkowski appears to thoroughly enjoy himself at Daytona 500

Rob Gronkowski appears to thoroughly enjoy himself at Daytona 500

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski attended the Dayton 500 in true Gronkowski form.

He appeared to be there promoting Monster Energy drink, and was therefore hanging with the Monster Girls, who were also promoting the drink. Gronkowski's herniated disc injury, which required surgery in December 2016, does not seem to be slowing him down as he gets warmed up for the Summer of Gronk.

During the race coverage on FOX Sports, Gronk delivered a speed limit joke, which is sure to make the 13-year-old in you chuckle. (You can watch it here.)


Curran: It's time to let the air out of Deflategate

Curran: It's time to let the air out of Deflategate

I think it’s time. Time to let the Deflategate wound scab over. Time to exit the active, raging, teeth-gnashing, petition-signing, lawsuit-filing portion of the program and let the hate follow its natural course into a slow-boil loathing.

If you are of Irish descent, you know how it works. Clear a big-ass space on the grudge shelf. Put Roger Goodell, Jeff Pash, Mike Kensil, Troy Vincent, Ryan Grigson, Jim Irsay, every shiv-wielding owner, all the cluck-clucking media and the legion of retired players and exiled GMs from Marshall Faulk to Joey Porter through Marty Hurney and into Bill Polian up there. Turn off light. Leave room.

When you need to piss yourself off -- in traffic, mowing the lawn, waiting for your coffee -- fetch ‘em down, blow the dust off and when you’re in a sufficiently foul mood, return grudge to shelf.

You rode the roller coaster. You’ve been there, done that and have all the T-shirts.

I came to this conclusion a few days ago, when ESPN’s Cari Champion interviewed Rob Gronkowski and asked about Goodell visiting Gillette. It was like playing “Get the Stick!” with a big goofy Lab. Champion threw the leading question, Gronk fetched -- tail-wagging --  and returned with a slobbery response that was completely implausible but still designed to dominate a four-hour news cycle.

"The fans are nuts, they’re wild, and they have the Patriots’ back no matter what,” said Gronkowski. “They have [Tom Brady’s] back. I’m telling you, he won’t get through the highway if the fans saw him. I don’t even think he can even land in the airport in Boston because Patriot fans are the best fans, they’re the most loyal fans. I’m telling you, they might just carry out Roger themselves. They couldn’t even get to the stadium in Foxboro if he landed in Boston."

Gronk’s just doing what he thinks he’s supposed to do. And Champion is, too. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

Watch these mooks up in New England get all pissed off: “Hey, hey, Chowderhead . . . Roger Goodell . . . . ”

“F*** that guy, he better never show his face in Foxboro! But I want him to come to Foxboro so I can boo the ever-living s*** out of him and maybe barricade Route 1 like Gronk said we would!”

See? Works every time.

The irony is that the person mainly responsible for turning up the burner on this is Robert Kraft.

In May 2015, Kraft said at the owners meetings in San Francisco, “I don’t want to continue the rhetoric that’s gone on for the last four months. I’m going to accept, reluctantly, what he has given to us, and not continue this dialogue and rhetoric, and we won’t appeal.

“Now, I know that a lot of Patriots fans are going to be disappointed in that decision, but I hope they trust my judgment and know that I really feel at this point in time that taking this off the agenda, this is the best thing for the New England Patriots, our fans, and the NFL, and I hope you all can respect that.”

Well, that blew up like an ACME bomb. And -- from that moment on -- Kraft has tried to recoup the fanbase that believed he sold them out by issuing a succession of calls-to-arms that the region has dutifully responded to.

The most recent was throwing down the gauntlet to Goodell by expressly inviting him to the 2017 season opener.  I mean, it would have been a conversation point anyway, but now it’s metastasized into something that will be discussed throughout the offseason, ratcheting up in early September and hitting a crescendo on opening night.

There is appeal to seeing Goodell squirm while knowing the Maras, Rooneys and Irsays will be sipping highballs and lamenting the caddish treatment of Poor Roger. But I still like the football better.

Conversation about the historic import of SB51, the legacy of Brady and Belichick, prospects for the league in 2017? I’ll take those rather than an ESPN “personality” who spent a weekend in Newburyport at a friend’s wedding telling everyone what the mindset of the New England sports fan is.  

But that’s not what we’re going to get. There will instead be ever-escalating predictions of the terrors Goodell will be subjected to fueled by interviews with tatted-up kids from the mean streets of Marshfield who wanted “Hoodie” fired when he let Revis sign with the Jets.

Unless . . . unless the region en masse decides to let its loathing mature. Mature to the point that when the carrot gets dangled in its collective face it doesn’t leap at it with teeth bared but instead says, “No thanks. Already full.”

Yeah. I don’t think it’s gonna happen either.