There are different reasons that Brett Favre(notes) is a symbol of annoyance to different people. There is his constant waffling, his ceaseless need for attention, the saccharine way in which he tries to convince us that he's not a press junkie at all -- he's just that lil' ol' guy from Hattiesburg, jes' throwin' to them thar high school kids, and the ceaseless and sycophantic way that some members of the media lap it up. Of course, there's also the annoyance Favre creates with his absolutely undeniable greatness. If you weren't a Packers fan for all those years, or a Vikings fan last season, you were probably P.O'd at one time or another because Favre put together an amazing play or historic comeback that left your team in the dust.
But the thing that's sticking in my craw more and more about Number 4 is his seeming inability to hold himself to the standards he demands of others. This phenomenon first reared its head when it was reported this week that the Vikings were looking at veteran receiver Javon Walker while they wait to see what's up with Percy Harvin's(notes) migraines. Favre is familiar with Walker - the two were teammates in Green Bay from 2002 through 2005. And when Walker held out through the 2005 preseason, Favre had a lot to say about it.
"If Javon wants to know what he quarterback thinks, and I would think he might, I'd tell him he's going about this the wrong way," Favre told the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "When his agent tells him not to worry about what his teammates think and all that stuff, I'd tell him I've been around a long time and that stuff will come back to haunt you."
"He's a great player," Favre said. "I think he can help us. He's likeable and easy to get along with, but I'm guessing he's getting the wrong advice, and he's buying into that. I just don't see much good that can come from it. If it gets time for the start of training camp and he's not in, I think it'll start bothering him, and he'll be here. But once again, nothing should surprise you."
"We've got guys who'll give great effort. Stars are made that way. Look at what happened when Sterling (Sharpe) left. Robert Brooks stepped up. We can win without him. Nowadays you're seeing more and more guys pulling that stunt. If guys continue to do that and are successful getting away with it, then I'll be gone, but I think the game will be ruined. My reaction to Javon's situation was, 'Here we go again.'"
"What happened to honoring your contract and saying, 'Let's work as a team to see if we can get this done?' Why not go about it that way? Maybe I'm old-school, but I always thought you honor a contract. Sure, sometimes guys pass you up in salary, and maybe it's a lesser player, but it's all based on what a team has as far as value in that person. I sure hope the Packers don't give into him."
Yeah, it's tough to know where to begin here. Favre said all these things in 2005, before he stuck it to the Packers, Jets, and Vikings in successive years, and has clearly been engineering a not-so-subtle series of moves to gain overriding control of the Minnesota team on the field and in the locker room.
Just as astonishing was the interview Favre recently did with ESPN's Ed Werder, and the circumstances around that interview. In a piece that is linked with the title "Favre stresses commitment to team in meetings" on the WWL's home page, Werder reported that Favre held two different closed-door meetings with his teammates upon his "return" to the game. One had Favre telling teammates that whatever is said in the locker room needs to stay in the locker room.
"If something is being said in here -- by whoever, it's got to stop. It's hard enough to win as it is," Favre told Werder. "Success does crazy things. So we had a good meeting ... I don't know if someone out there is planting seeds or what but we wanted to nip it in the bud."
Soooo, just to make this clear: Brett Favre conducted an interview where he made public the agenda of a closed-door meeting, in which he exhorted his teammates to keep all closed-door meetings private.
Only in Favre's head does this make sense. Only in Favre's noggin does the idea that a guy who holds a team hostage for two straight years, and shows open disdain for his coach, could stand as an example of leadership. He may still be a great quarterback, and his teammates may know that he's their best chance of winning, but part of the deal with Favre is the same bargain a team has to make with itself when acquiring and keeping any megalomaniacal personality -- you have to trade the wins and the stats for the erosion of chemistry and control. It's no less true of Favre than it has been of Terrell Owens(notes) or Allen Iverson or Roger Clemens.
"I did feel -- more so than last year, believe it or not -- I needed them to know I'm all in," Favre told Werder about the second meeting. "Not that they didn't know. I think they did just from me being there. And that was kind of the mantra from all of those guys: 'We knew if we got you here, we were going to get you and you'd be all in. It was getting your [butt] here that is the problem.' The hardest part for me is leaving Hattiesburg and the tranquility and that stuff, leaving that. But when I left it, I knew it was nose to the grindstone for five months now."
If Brett Favre had truly been "in" -- "in" all the way -- no such words would ever need to be said.