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.