The United States Mass Media Directorate is housed in a Washington D.C. secret facility often rumored to exist but never acknowledged by our government. This is where journalists, magazine editors, filmmakers, television producers, cable-news executives, and their cohorts are given instructions as to what to broadcast, print, or say for the next 24 hours.
Reporters quickly learn it’s a humdrum job, mostly gossiping with colleagues and waiting for the morning handout. But, today is different. There is a buzz in the building, an edge to its normally placid ambiance. Brett Favre demolished the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, and nervous media workers are waiting for guidance. And waiting. And waiting.
Once you’re categorized by the United States Mass Media Directorate, that’s it. Brett Favre will be known as a drama queen until the day he dies and for as long as his memory survives beyond the grave. There is no alternate tagline. No redemption. Unless, that is, Favre wins a Super Bowl. Then the Directorate will drop “drama queen” for a better storyline — “Old Timer Comes Back Against All Odds and Heroically Leads New Team to Super Bowl Victory!” Win a Super Bowl, and Favre will be renamed as “beloved underdog.”
But…there are two more games to play before transformation. The Vikings might lose either one. How to work the storyline in the meantime, that’s the problem, and that’s why the Directorate’s bar is packed on Wednesday morning.
The fact that the Directorate is asking itself how to play this story is a measure of how far Favre has come. He started this season looking like every Hall of Famer who pushed his career one year into embarrassment. Remember Johnny Unitas as a Charger or Joe Namath playing for the Rams?
To be the best is to be an egomaniac. Brett Favre knows how good he is. It has to make you rum-dum crazy to know you’re the best and have the world treat you like a has-been.
Favre was pushed out of Green Bay after the 2007 season, after taking his club to the NFC Championship game, after being selected to the 2008 Pro Bowl. True, he gave management plenty to work with — the crying, the yes, no, yes, no, yes about retiring. His diva delay caused Packers management to publicly commit to a new starting quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. After that, accepting Favre back as their leader would paint them as weak.
When Favre finally decided he wanted to play, the Packers, for good reason, refused to give him the starting-QB job or an unconditional release. So, Favre showed up at camp, thus forcing the Packers to make a trade. Favre was sent to the NFL wasteland known as the New York Jets for a conditional fourth-round draft pick and bus fare to Garden City, Kansas. It wasn’t a pretty parting, but Favre got to keep playing, albeit for a team that just finished 4-12. And Green Bay management got the immense pleasure of making triple-sure Favre would fail.
And then, somehow, after 11 games, Favre led the Jets to an 8-and-3 record and first place in the AFC East. Great Scott, they were going to be in the playoffs!
I don’t have to tell you the Directorate was concerned. Happily, the Jets lost four out of their last five games, Favre threw two touchdown passes and nine interceptions during that stretch, the Jets missed the playoffs, and on February 11, 2009, Favre, thoroughly discredited, informed the Jets he was retiring. Order was restored and the Directorate returned to the L.A. Lakers situation.
Favre was not coming back. Ever. Not this time. Except he did, after more tears, more yes and no and yes and no and yes, signing a contract with Minnesota on August 11, 2009.
The Directorate was not concerned. Favre would burn out in December, just like last year. If anything, this latest comeback would only reinforce their existing storyline.
Instead, Favre led the Vikings to a second seed and a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs, then underlined that achievement with Sunday’s studied, cold-blooded, 34-to-3 humiliation of Dallas. Favre threw four touchdown passes and earned a 134.4 passer rating. He’s 40 years old. Here’s a telling stat, picked out of a Santa Claus–sized grab bag: last year the Vikings’ passing attack was ranked 25th in the NFL. This year they are tied for first. I’ll finish with the ultimate record: Favre has started every game his team has played since September 27, 1992.
Now, I think reasonable people can agree Brett Favre needs to be bitch-slapped as part of a daily routine. He is a whining, selfish, prima donna and a great, great quarterback.