Sunday, July 13, 2008

For Once, I Agree With Stephen A. Smith

Category: Sports Rant

Without question, I am not a Stephen A. Smith fan. In fact, when a SportsCenter anchor says, "Coming up, Stephen A. Smith..." I reach for the remote. However, I have to say his opinion on the Brett Favre situation is dead-on correct.

Smith's commentary on ESPN said, among other things, that Favre has had a remarkable, Hall of Fame career as the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers; however, Favre is the one who said, "I'm retiring," and it's time to stop whining about Favre as though the Packers can never win another game if he stays retired or is traded to another team.

I could not agree more. I feel that Favre, who perhaps did not take as much time to contemplate what retirement meant as one might believe, is pulling a Roger Clemens on his team and his fans. Clemens started a nasty habit of stringing everyone along over the winter months and well past spring training, only announcing after the baseball season was a month or two underway that he was signing to the Astros or the Yankees. To me, that's superstar arrogance: let's see Homer Bailey, who's been bouncing between the Cincinnati Reds and their minor-league AAA team for a couple of years, skip spring training and a month of the regular season before deciding to grace the game of baseball with his presence! The message Clemens seemed to be conveying was, "I'm so great that baseball just can't go on without me. Now I'm back. Rejoice!"

Sadly, ESPN and other sports media played along with Clemens, and they are doing so again with Favre. Smith articulated that in his comments. "I'm getting sick and tired of this 'love affair' between Brett Favre and, dare I say it, the media." He called the network that signs his paycheck out on it, too, and he's 100% correct. When the "Bottom Line" has, amid its "WNBA," "NL," "AL," "Golf," and "NHL" tabs, one that says "FAVRE" (or "Clemens" or "Bonds"), there's something skewered with the reporting. Much like ESPN's treatment of the PGA solely in terms of Tiger Woods (how many golf tournaments have you seen reported in any detail since Woods' surgery on his knee, which knocked him out for the rest of the 2008 season? Even with the third major, the British Open, beginning this week, ESPN is ignoring it while the previous two majors were covered weeks in advance -- but only in terms of Tiger. And, on the scant occasions they have mentioned it, it's only to report that Tiger will not be at the British Open!), ESPN is covering the Favre retirement/un-retirement story as if (a) there are no other players in the NFL and (b) everyone in the world cares.

Honestly, I did care; however, now I feel that Favre is being ruled more by ego than good common sense.
Packer fans "got over" the retirement of Bart Starr (who was the MVP of the first two Super Bowls, both won by the Packers), and they will get over Favre's retirement as well, if they will allow their brains, not their emotions, to rule. While fans are protesting the management decision to not release Favre and not to return him to the active roster (meaning they'll either trade him or keep him as a back-up quarterback), how will they feel if an injury or bad playing indicates that Favre's return to the NFL was a bad move? Or if he does return and sits on the bench, ending his record streak of 253 consecutive starts? There is a salary cap, and the $11 million base salary he would make can pay for a lot of talent who can carry the team many years into the future.

For those who think Brett Favre's return is a good idea, remember Michael Jordan. Oh, I'm sorry, you don't remember Michael Jordan as anything but a Chicago Bull, do you? There's a reason: Jordan's two years with the Washington Wizards, after he had retired from the NBA then un-retired, saw him with the lowest scoring average of his career (20 points per game his last year). To many -- probably starting with the Bulls fan -- the notion that Jordan has any other team on his career stats list is an insult. The low scoring average indicates that maybe Michael should have given baseball, not basketball, a second try.

Please, Brett, for the sake of your legacy, take up golf on Sunday afternoon. You just may end up as the QB on last year's lovable loser team, the Miami Dolphins, wishing you had stayed retired.

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