Favre still comes out of this looking narcissistic and egomaniacal, and the Packers still look level headed and have their sights set firmly on the future. The media attention paid to this story is warranted to a degree, because I can’t remember a more compelling off-season hysteria like this in pro football in my lifetime. While ESPN has nauseated me with its blanketing, make that tarp-like coverage of the whole ordeal, the fact that the Packers shunned their hall-of-fame QB because of their need to move forward and because of his attitude is still rather surprising. The NFL, more than any other sport, is a business first meritocracy. If you’re the best at your position, you’re the one that plays there, bottom line. The only exceptions to this rule in the past have been when players put themselves too far ahead of the team’s best interests, as in the case of guys like Keyshawn Johnson and Terrell Owens, who both made early exits from the Bucs and Eagles respectively for attempting to poison the locker room to a cataclysmic degree.
It seems that the only logical assertion to be made in the Favre situation is that his return to
Why do I think so? Because Favre is on the last three years of his career at best, with a more likely timetable of two more quality years in the NFL. Then his body will finally give out and no matter how much he wants the attention, he will have to at long end remain retired. Therefore the Packers were able to move on more quickly, keep Aaron Rodgers (who will end up being a damn good NFL quarterback, mark my words) and avoid a media circus throughout training camp and on into the regular season. Not only that, but they avoided sending Favre where he wanted to go, the Pack’s division rival Minnesota Vikings and instead sent him to the AFC. The Jets being outside their conference,
Now on to the
This year’s pennant races stirred up a little bit of a bugaboo for me, which is the outright buying and selling of talent down the playoff stretch. This rampant selling off and adding on of players is not only a problem in baseball, but in the national pastime it seems to be an all-out bidding war every year when the trade deadline comes around. Not only that, but this year especially big-name talent is moving around from team to team as pennant races tighten up and the run for playoff positioning begins in earnest. It’s a strange phenomenon when losing teams simply give up on guys that could be the core of their future success to dump salaries or acquire even more young prospects which they will eventually probably deal in coming years at the trade deadline. Multiple unproven prospects for proven ability is usually the exchange in a lot of sports, not just baseball, but it just seems like many teams just won’t sit and wait for guys to pan out anymore. Manny Ramirez, Mark Teixeira, Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn (the latter both being Cincinnati Reds’ players) all switched squads, and their proven ability sent a lot of no-name minor leaguers and lesser known utility players to new teams in the swap. Not only that, but we should be ready for more to come as baseball’s waiver wire heats up. Gary Sheffield of the Tigers just hit the waiver wire after he moaned about a lack of playing time and will probably end up as yet another hired gun on a team trying to make the playoffs or win the whole she-bang.
I understand that baseball is a business at its core and entertainment is always its aim, but winning at the cost of your future has become the move du-jour among any team within a mile of making the playoffs these days. I’m afraid when I tell my children about the guys I grew up watching like Alan Trammell and “Sweet” Lou Whitaker of the Detroit Tigers, who stayed with the club for their entire careers, the story will become as alien to them as legends my dad and uncles told me of the glory days of their baseball. The game changes at lightning speed nowadays and I’m just afraid that the lack of team loyalty, which has for so long been blamed on money-hungry ball players, will actually be eradicated by winning obsessed owners and team presidents, who will stop at nothing to claim victory now. This win yesterday mentality is going to end up poisoning sports for a lot of guys and gals my age as we get older and the generation behind us is probably going to understand free-agency and the waiver wire better than I understand the actual ins and outs of the game of baseball. It used to be that owners were all about money and the players were all about the game. Then the Black Sox Scandal proved that the players were also all about the money, just like the owners they were railing against. Then the players’ salaries inflated to such breathtaking amounts that owners cried foul at their greed. Now the bottom line might as well be chalked onto the field alongside the bases, where cash is the only language both sides seem to speak anymore. I might be getting a bit jaded, but then again I might be witnessing the last throws of a battle between baseball and football for the American sports fan’s soul. Football, the intense and brutal meritocracy of sport, is built for this type of money-grubbing and win-now bullshit. I never thought my precious baseball was set on such an untoward path, but I now see even football players and owners as comparative bastions of loyalty and pride. Oh, me.
I hope to post again soon, so stay tuned for a few thoughts on the Olympics, both sporty and political.