Sunday, January 24, 2010

Vikings-Saints Comments

At last, the civil war among Packer fans is over, for this year at least. I know that it is a bit weird that I am writing to comment on the Vikings-Saints NFC Championship game before I have even finished and published a post about the Packers' loss to the Cardinals. But with the Vikings having lost to the Saints, and the Saints heading off to their first-ever Super Bowl, it seems like a good time to pipe in with a few comments.

If my own family and friends are typical, there has been a sometimes-heated battle going on for the last two years about Favre's post-Packer career. It was bad enough last year, but at least Favre was playing outside the division, and not against the Packers. And, in any event, the Jets didn't even make the playoffs. But it really got bad this year, when he signed with the Vikings, when he beat the Packers, solidly, twice, and when he continued to play as close to a flawless season as he ever has, all the way to the NFC Championship game.

I have one cousin whose "status" on Facebook today was wishing Favre an awesome day. Another cousin admitted to experiencing schadenfreude over the outcome of the game. One friend was rooting for Favre, mostly just because it is incredible that he can play the game at this level at age 40. Another relative (and here I really do need to be discreet to protect the guilty) has been photographed wearing a Vikings' Favre jersey, and seems to have been rooting for him all year.

A Packer fan I met yesterday said she was rooting for the Vikings to win the Super Bowl so that Favre would retire. It may take awhile before we find out, but I am pretty sure he will retire anyway. Now, the cynical might say that it doesn't take Nostradamus to predict that Favre will retire, and that the real question is whether he will play again. We'll see, but I don't think he will.

In my immediate family, all four of us were rooting for the Saints today, with differing sets of reasons and intensity. One of us would have been OK to see Favre go to the Super Bowl again if it turned out that way, while the rest of us (including me) did not want to see that happen. I have been very unhappy with Favre the last two years, so I suppose I am at the more militant end of the spectrum.

The thing that I have probably found most irritating about this year was that Favre played so magnificently. Favre's best two years as a Packer were probably 1995 (which ended with a loss to the Cowboys in the NFC Championship game), and 1996 (which ended with the Super Bowl victory against the Patriots. In the regular season in those two years, Favre had three times as many touchdowns as interceptions (38-13 in 1995 and 39-13 in 1996). That was as good as it got for Favre, with a much closer ratio of TDs to interceptions in every other year.

Until this year. Favre had 33 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions this year in the regular season. Almost 5 to 1 touchdowns over interceptions. This is the year he chooses to play flawlessly, for the Vikings? And he had several other career-best stats for the Vikings this year. Of course, there are reasons for this. I am no fan of Brad Childress, but I have to give him credit for reining in Favre's wildness, probably better than any coach in Favre's career. Favre probably never had as dominant a running back in the backfield as he had this year. Favre certainly had a better offensive line with the Vikings than he did in recent years with the Packers. Favre always made the receivers around him look better than they really were, so I am not giving a huge amount of credit to the receivers, though they were good. To sum it up, with the exception of the 1996 team, I don't think Favre ever had the combination of great offensive line, dominant running game, dominant passing game, and dominant defense that he had this year. So it makes sense that Favre and the Vikings had a great year.

But still, for the Vikings and their fans to get the benefit of all the good side of Favre, and almost none of the downside that Packer fans lived with every year, was infuriating to me. Today, the downside returned. Because of the pressure the Saints brought on Favre all day long, he was hit often, hit hard, and he was hurting badly by the end of the game. It is no accident that both of Favre's interceptions took place in the second half. (As an aside, the Saints did to the Vikings this week and to the Cardinals last week exactly what the Packers should have done, and could have done with a better defensive plan, but that is another column for another day.)

It was poetic justice for Favre to effectively end the Vikings' season with an interception on his final pass, just as he had done to the Packers two years ago. The pass tonight was just as incomprehensible as the one against the Giants two years ago. Yes, the late throw back across the field is the sort of thing that he has done his entire career, and he has gotten away with it many times over the years. But it is still a stupid throw. Michael Irvin (believe it or not) said it well on the NFL Network when he said that the real problem with the throw was the situation. He was at a point on the field where the Vikings had some shot at the game winning field goal even with an incomplete pass, and a much better shot if he gained a few extra yards, with his legs if necessary. To throw a low-probability, high risk pass in that situation is inexcusable. (By the way, although I did not remember this, Favre's last pass for the Jets was also intercepted - I think I am detecting a pattern here.) [Ed. note - upon further review, it was Favre's second to last pass for the Jets that was intercepted. His last pass, with 17 seconds left in his last game, was completed to Leon Washington, who then lateraled it back to Favre, who then tried to pass it again to Jerricho Cotchery, which of course resulted in a penalty for an illegal forward pass. You can't make this stuff up.]

But despite how critical I have been of Favre, my hat is off to him. He was really battered today, and was limping around for much of the second half. He demonstrated again today that he is probably the toughest quarterback in the league. He was largely responsible for keeping the Vikings in the game, despite their six fumbles. He has always showed a lot of heart in his play, and today was no exception.


  1. "The civil war among Packer fans is over, for this year at least." Say what?

    Yesterday I attended a business meeting in Washington disguised as a basketball game. A friend in attendance is a lifelong Vikings fan, and he went out of his way to give me faux condolences for his team having make it to the NFC Championship when mine did not. Today I get to salute him as an honorary Packer backer for having experienced Favre as we have known him.

    I'm told that people who love Bill Clinton have had the same mix of experiences.

  2. You should also mention that he plays the game like no other player - and love him or hate him (I could never hate him), you'll miss him if he retires. I believe one of the ESPN Sportscasters said something to that effect also and it's definitely true.

  3. RegCheck: I think we agree. My point was that the Vikings fan had (until yesterday) the almost perfect version of Favre that we never experienced, not really even in 1996 (when there were plenty of mishaps along the way).

    My attitude during the Favre years was, you have to take the bad with the good, it is just too bad that we can't dial down his wild, gambling style just a single notch. It didn't seem right to me that the Vikings fans never had to pay the piper by slapping their foreheads and saying "what was he thinking?." So now they have had the full Favre experience, and not a moment too soon. To put it in Old Testament terms, even the Vikings fans now realize that he has feet of clay.

  4. Anonymous (you don't fool me, by the way, I know who you are): you are right. He does (did?) play the game like no other player I can recall. I don't hate him. I am saddened by what he has done the past two years, and the seeming spitefulness with which he has done it. But I will miss him when he retires. I just wish he had not tarnished his legacy the way he has.

  5. By the way, courtesy of the Good Egg Blogger ( here is a YouTube link:

  6. As a Cal fan who has always admired Aaron Rogers as a man and as a player, I was pleased with his success this year and disappointed that he did not pull out the win against the Cardinals. As a TMF2 fan, I was looking forward to Rogers leading the Packers past the Vikings in the NFC title game. As for Favre, I've seen enough. Football is a game for young men. For this year, he managed to avoid the fate of Montana with the Chiefs, Unitas with the Chargers, Namath with the Rams, Ken Stabler with the Saints.

  7. "Ernesto": Thanks for the comment. You told me by email that you somehow left out the intended last line - "it can't last." I agree.

    Interestingly, the unnamed relative referred to in the blog post (the one who has been photographed wearing the Favre Vikings jersey) said almost exactly the same thing you said in an email message to me this morning:

    "He is still my favorite Packer and favorite athlete to watch but I have had enough."

    This is not really related to your comment, but I just wanted to add that a commenter named RayMidge over at Packergeeks made a heck of an interesting observation over there this morning:

    "Anyone else have the random thought that, ironically, Favre might have made the play that Rodgers missed to end the Cardinals game (jennings wide open) and Rodgers almost certainly would have made the play that Favre didn’t (scramble for 5-10 yards on that last INT) . . . no point to that observation, just a wierd sort of symmetry."

  8. Personally, I think that Favre will retire for good this year. He's been building for this game for two years, and he threw it all away (literally) again. This will be a huge emotional blow to him.

    I used to be really angry with Favre, but I have a much more neutral point of view at the moment. I don't think that getting back at the Pack was Favre's primary intention in signing with the Vikings. How many teams were there at the beginning of the season that were ready and prepared to make a run deep into the playoffs, buy would have signed Favre as a starter. Not many. I have a feeling that is was mainly business as usual with the entire Favre signing.

    Cool blog by the way. I have my own Packer blog on here,

    It's only about a week old, but I'm working on it.

    Go Pack Go!

  9. GBP Fan - thanks for the comment. I will check out your blog when I get a chance. I think my only disagreement with you is that I think revenge was a bigger part of the story than you think. Some of his comments in the long Greta Van Susteren interview a couple of years ago just sound that way to me, plus (and credit goes to my wife for picking it up at the time), there was something weird about that Favre Packer retirement press conference. When Deanna spoke, she said something about how they were not going to participate in the traditional Packer softball game in Appleton that spring. Her reason made no sense, and my wife immediately said that she thought something strange was going on. So I think that she let it slip, inadvertently, that the Favres were very unhappy with the Packers. And if so, then some of Favre's comments to Van Susteren make more sense, and all of his actions in the last two years make more sense, too. Having said that, I think I, too, am less angry with Favre now than saddened at what has happened.