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To Win Another Super Bowl, Favre Must Master His Ego For a Full Season
I’m not a fan of Brett Favre. But I’m sure I admire him. In his recent loss in the NFC Championship game, I admit, I was haunted by the result. I couldn’t sleep afterwards, constantly replaying his last pass of the game over and over in my head. It was his eyes, from their look of expectation as the ball left his hand to their look of despondency when he left the field.
As a Troy Aikman fan, I couldn’t appreciate Favre. They were intense rivals and I couldn’t bear the thought of young Packer surpassing him. I felt that way until Brett’s love of physical play convinced me. I remember the precise moment. At the time, the league’s most dominant defensive tackle, Warren Sapp of the Buccaneers, lambasted him after throwing a through pass during one of their epic Lambeau Field battles. What I saw amazed me. Right after being taken down, Brett stood up and praised Sapp for his hustle and effort. Then and there, as a lifelong football fan, I recognized an unparalleled love for the game of football.
When it comes to Brett’s indecisiveness when it comes to retirement, I’ve always given him the benefit of the doubt. I was never fully convinced that he was a prima donna or an attention-seeking glory hound. I just thought part of him felt inclined to retire, while the other wanted to make sure he was no longer involved with mini camps and boot camp. At his age, can we blame him?
I have long compared the Vikings to the NFC Browns. The Browns must suffer the ignominy of choking in games as famous as Red Right 88, the Drive and the Fumble. The Vikings, they got the Hail Mary, Gary Anderson’s missed field goal, and now this…
What is this game called?
Brett Favre played all year like he was a reformed man. The team first. I don’t need to be the superstar. And in this game, we watched him put the finishing touches to a spectacular career. It had to be the bravest and most determined effort he had ever made in a game.
And then, with the game on the line, the Vikings took him out third at the dawn of field goal range with just seconds on the clock and gave him the chance to make an easy pass if it was available to him or take the yards given to him on the field.
It was time. If he chose correctly, he would prove once and for all that he was truly a team player – that he wasn’t just there for himself. If he heads the ball, whatever the outcome, he walks away a hero… the epitome of courage and leadership…
But it wasn’t good enough for him. He wanted to make a spectacular last play, and he was willing to stake the entire fate of his own team and all Vikings fans on an ill-advised pass across the field, the cardinal sin of quarterbacks. Of course, we know the outcome. Brett chose Brett.
After all the beatings he absorbed, how he was there limping on a taped ankle, it wasn’t the ending he deserved, or we deserved. It’s not Brett’s fault that his team missed an opportunity to win in a blowout. It’s not Brett’s fault the umpires helped the Saints get into field goal range in overtime by calling a phantom pass interference call and awarding Henderson a hold when replays show the ball was clearly moving.
But they still lost and they never had the chance to score the basket that could have won it. That’s what makes such an ending so bittersweet, even for non-Viking fans like me. I felt deprived and there was nothing I could do to make this void go away.
So what is this game called? I suggest we call it the Ego.
I think Brett Favre really aspires to the ideal of putting the team first, but he’s so entrenched in his drive to pursue his own glory that he was willing to bet on the outcome of the game, even one that would have resulted in a Super Bowl. appearance. In the heat of the moment, I don’t think he was consciously selfish, but unconsciously selfish. No doubt he knew it was wrong, but he had gotten away with it before and he thought he could do it again. His bet just didn’t pay off.
If there’s one thing I hope Brett can take away from this, it’s that football is a team game for every shot. At all times in the game, no matter what the pressure is on you, you have to do what’s best for the team and know your role.
No one knows for sure if Brett will return next season, but if he can build on his incredible game as a Viking and put aside his quest for personal glory for an entire season, hopefully the Ego can finally be put to rest and another Lombardi trophy can be added before he takes his permanent place in Canton.
In the meantime, if I was Brett Favre, I’d be together over a beer with Earnest Byner.
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