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August 18, 2009

Crisis Averted: Sportswriters and Sportscasters Will Have Whole New Year to Blather On Endlessly About the Quiet Heroism and Small-Town Grit of Brett Favre

Hey, I like Brett Favre. I just don't like-like him, if you know what I mean, as most of our sports politburo does.

As expected, he signed with the Vikings.

This is where I make the point I usually do with regard to Favre: Too much credit is given to athletes who leave the game before they pass their prime. People wax poetically about how retiring before the inevitable physical decline leaves people with the memory of the athlete in top peak form.

Well... okay. But what's so great about that? It's not as if I'm somehow tricked into believing they're actually immortal. I know they just left the game -- prudently, perhaps -- before their mortality began demonstrating itself.

I give much more credit to guys like Vinny Testaverde and, yes, Brett Favre, who don't know when to quit, who keep playing just because they love the game and don't know how to do anything better.

It's one thing to put yourself through the pain and hardship of football when you'e great at it and your bestride the field like a living god.

But what about when it becomes even more difficult for you, when you become, at best, an average player, and furthermore an average player who'll do nothing but decline in ability, and the physical pain and hardship ratchet up dramatically?

What about that kind of guy? The guy who says "I don't care if I'm not terribly good anymore, I don't care if I don't get the adoration I used to, I don't care if this is tougher for me than it's ever been in my entire life. Just put me in, I want to play."

I dig those guys more than the those who exit before their powers fade.*

* Unless you have serious medical problems like Troy Aikman. Or you're a running back like Jerome Bettis. (Running backs take the worst pounding of anyone in the sport and exit the game, if they're not very careful and if they overstay their useful years, as near-invalids barely able to walk.)

And boxers.

I guess I'm not really questioning anyone's leaving a brutal and unforgiving game. I'm just saying I don't get the props given to people who leave at their peak or just past it.

It's a smart decision, a wise decision, but I don't see it as laudable beyond saying just that -- it's prudent. It's savvy. It's health-conscious. But it's not laudable in the ways these homoerotic arrested-development hero-worshipping boy-men sports geeks carry on about it.

BTW: Yes, I have just praised Brett Favre.

But I did admit I liked him.

I just don't want to go steady with him.

"John Madden" on Brett Favre, at 5:00.

"John Madden" takes news of Brett Favre's retirement hard. Includes special shout-out to Dungeons and Dragons.

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posted by Ace at 12:10 PM

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