As American voters prepare to make history at the polls in Tuesday’s midterm elections, history of another kind might well have been made in Boston days earlier when the Minnesota Vikings played the New England Patriots.
As of this writing, Vikings quarterback Brett Favre, the erstwhile Big Cheese of Cheesehead Nation, was hobbling about Eden Prairie, Minn., with a broken ankle that threatened to end his 20-year, NFL-record consecutive-games-played streak at 291.
Remarkably, the injury occurred at Lambeau Field in a Vikings loss to the Packers last Sunday, and thus might seem like karmic justice to aggrieved fans of the league’s most-celebrated franchise. Favre, after all, engineered a retirement from retirement last year with the single-minded goal of sticking it to Green Bay as the quarterback of its most-despised rival. (Nothing wrong with that, by the way. Most of us would revel in the opportunity to skewer a former employer that kicked us to the curb.)
But if, indeed, Favre’s streak is to end today, Packers fans should search for perspective, even as they enjoy the misery of the man and Al Franken’s favorite team. The previous two-plus seasons notwithstanding, Favre was the central figure in one of the most joyful chapters in Wisconsin sports history. Without him, the Packers’ revival almost surely would not have occurred. He won three MVP awards and a Super Bowl. He holds every important NFL record for quarterbacks. He had a flair for the dramatic, even in failure, and he became the face of a franchise that once again is a national treasure.
His annual “to play or not to play” Hamlet act became tedious, but the animosity it engendered among fans will dissipate over time. What will remain is a bust in Canton, Ohio, and many fond memories of glorious Sundays that made Mondays that much more tolerable.
That said, we hope Packers fans also remember the sad-sack remarks of Vikings coach Brad “Chili” Childress after last Sunday’s game, and understand that Favre, personal and professional foibles aside, deserves better. As Favre hobbled around the locker room on a fractured ankle, the seething coach ripped his quarterback mercilessly, apparently forgetting that, with No. 4 under center, you occasionally have to accept the bad with the good.
If, indeed, you can judge a man by how he handles himself in defeat, then Chili seems destined soon for a job as a shuffleboard puck polisher at a Duluth trailer park. Favre, on the other hand, likely will benefit from the inevitable softening of Cheesehead animosities. He will return to Lambeau one day on a mended ankle and in street clothes, and will once again hear the cheers that punctuated an incredible streak that will forever define him as the NFL’s all-time tough guy.
Read more on the Outlook and Perspective pages of CSI's Walworth County Sunday e-edition on pages 8A and 9A. and add your comments below.