Suddenly interested in Favre


Suddenly interested in Favre

By Rich Levine

It pains me to pay attention to Brett Favre.

Not that I need to explain why, but heres a quick recap:

Over the past decade, Favres become the poster boy for all thats wrong with todays sports coverage; a muse for lazy, short-sighted writers and broadcasters whod still rather blindly harp on his grit, determination, courage and toughness than recognize everything he does to offset those redeeming qualities. Hes developed and cemented a reputation as one of the most needy, insecure and self-centered stars in sports, which in relative terms is as impressive an accomplishment as his Super Bowl ring. Anytime you hear someone say, You see, this is why I cant stand ESPN!, theres an 80 percent chance theyre talking about Favre.

Quite simply, Brett Favre makes it less fun to be a sports fan.

His presence clouds better, more interesting and inspiring story lines, and always leaves us wanting more. And by more, I mean different; anything other than Favre. It will literally be a relief when he finally hangs them up for good. Seriously, 2035 is going to be a fantastic year.

So given all that, writing a column about Favres latest headline stealing story feels wrong. It pains me. Its like theres a garbage fire burning in my living room and Im ready to toss in a bucket of human hair. Thank God its Columbus Day and everyone's out of the office. Well, everyone except for you. (Sorry.)

But the more I think about Favres alleged voice mails and MMS crotch shots, the more I find myself paying attention.

Im not so much talking about the actions themselves. I mean, yeah, its awful; a stupid, unprofessional move on his part. But Im not going to pretend that Favres the only married guy in America sending sketchy text messages to another woman. Im not going to get on a soapbox and criticize his morals, question his marriage, or call for his head. Although, I will say that I wasnt surprised to hear what (allegedly) happened.

Had Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, or pretty much any quarterback other than Ben Roetlisberger been caught in a situation like this, I might be. But Favre? He hasnt necessarily portrayed himself as the most loyal, stable, considerate or trustworthy guy over these last few years. When I saw the video, I wasnt like, Wow! Brett Favre, really?! This wasnt a Tigers a sex addict revelation. It was more, Ha! Man, Favres such an idiot. Not that I saw the whole incident coming, but it kind of fits. Its not a shocker.

But what is shocking, and what keeps me coming back to this story, are the potential consequences a suspension, and the end of the most impressive and unbreakable record in NFL history.

288 consecutive starts and counting.

For all the trash I can talk about Favre, theres no denying his consecutive-start streak is all kinds of remarkable. Seriously, just think about it . . . the guy hasnt missed a game since 1992!

For comparisons sake, consider the team the Patriots fielded the day Favres streak began September 27, 1992. They started Hugh Millen at QB and Leonard Russell at RB. On that afternoon, a 41-7 loss to Buffalo, New England's leading receivers were Greg McMurtry and Marv Cook. Irving Fryar was still a Patriot; Andre Tippett, too. Dick MacPherson was coaching! This was ages ago.

Its hard to compare baseball and football in this respect, but given Favres degree of difficulty, you can make an argument that his streak is just as impressive as Cal Ripkens. Its beyond legendary.

And the fact that after withstanding 18 years of battle against the biggest, baddest and craziest monsters in the world, this streak has the potential to end at the hands of three pants-less photos is . . . I dont know.

Fitting? Unjust? Hilarious? Karma?

Really, I dont know. But its certainly interesting. Its definitely a Brett Favre subplot that Ill follow intently; one that wont make me want to throw myself into that garbage fire every time it comes up on SportsCenter. Its a story that Im excited to watch play out.
Until Roger Goodell chickens out and only gives Favre a fine. Then Ill just go back to despising him.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Giardi: Butler's offseason may cut deep, but it's time for him to battle back


Giardi: Butler's offseason may cut deep, but it's time for him to battle back

This hasn’t been easy for Malcolm Butler. None of it. He’s never been given anything. Hell, at times he’s pissed his future away. But with a tenacity that reminds you of a certain 199th pick in the 2000 draft, Butler has fought his way back, into college, into the pros and, in 2015 and 2016, into the upper echelon of NFL cornerbacks. He’s a two-time Super Bowl champ, making arguably the most memorable play in the history of that game.

He should be drinking in the adulation, savoring an incredible start to his career and a very lucrative future. Instead, he’s in both professional and Patriots purgatory. Free agency beckons but there’s a season to play, and as this is the only professional team he’s known, a burning desire to be recognized as an important piece, not just in the present, but the future of this organization as well.
One of his closest friends on the team, Dion Lewis, calls Butler a warrior. “The game means so much to him.”

Another teammate, fellow defensive back Devin McCourty said of Butler, “This is what he does. He competes.”

Duron Harmon insists that the 27-year-old corner has been the same guy he’s always been. Actually, they all say that. But clearly, the coaching staff sees something different, leading to Butler’s demotion Sunday in New Orleans. 
Bill Belichick has been short when talking about Butler dating all the way back to the spring. That hasn’t changed now that the games count. He’s dismissed past performance. All that matters is how you’re playing now. Butler has not established that same level. Why? There is no easy answer.
The lack of a new contract cuts deeply. The unsettling offseason -- was he going to be a Saint? -- left quite a mark as well. But Butler came back to Foxboro with purpose, reporting for voluntary workouts. He was hell-bent on proving to all -- Belichick included -- that he was still the lead dog, not Stephon Gillmore, despite the $31 million dollars in guaranteed money the organization forked over to the former Buffalo Bill.
That strategy worked for a time. Butler was one of the Pats best players in training camp, right up until the joint practices with the Texans midway through August. What happened? Butler doesn’t know. But one mistake became two. His play in the preseason game with Houston was poor. His confidence suffered. He started pressing. That didn’t help. Butler was just as bad at Detroit. The kid that had always answered a knockdown with one of his own, instead wobbled to his feet. The inconsistencies were evident in practice but the "he's-Malcolm-he'll-fix-it" thought process that teammates echoed didn’t prove true, at least not entirely.
According to Eric Rowe, the cornerbacks were informed of the role change at the beginning of last week. But other teammates said they didn’t realize Butler wasn’t starting until the walkthrough Saturday. The ensuing fallout wasn’t surprising -- HE’S MALCOLM BUTLER, SUPER BOWL HERO, DAMMIT -- but the worry around the team has been justified because Butler takes things to heart. His swagger comes from the game. That was stripped away prior to the game against the Saints, and even at the beginning of this week, leading into the Texans game. Butler had to get his head right. If his meeting with the media Thursday is an indication, he has.

But the proof is in the play. Butler has always known that. And while his play didn’t warrant a role reduction, another message has been sent by the powers that be in Foxboro. What happens next is all on Butler. His future depends on it.


Patriots place Vincent Valentine on IR, promote Geneo Grissom


Patriots place Vincent Valentine on IR, promote Geneo Grissom

FOXBORO -- Anyone hoping to see Vincent Valentine make his season debut got some bad news Friday. 

Valentine, who has been inactive for both of the Patriots' first two games with a knee injury, was placed on injured reserve. ESPN's Field Yates was first to report the news.

With Valentine on IR, Geneo Grissom was added to the roster from the practice squad. ESPN's Mike Reiss had that one first:

Valentine, whom the Pats chose 96th overall in 2016, has not been practicing with the team as he's dealt with the knee injury.

A third-round pick of the Pats in 2015, Grissom was released by the team in September and signed to the practice squad a day later.