As regular readers know, I was on vacation last week, so I watched the latest “Favre retirement” dust-up from the sidelines. Star Tribune Vikings beat writer Judd Zulgad got particularly vociferous grief after reporting last Tuesday that the phlegmatic signal-caller texted a retirement decision to teammates and club officials. Favre denied it the next day.
Although some hardcore Vikings fans ripped Zulgad for making things up, I had to scratch my sunburned head over the outrage: after all, a named source — tight end Visanthe Shiancoe — confirmed that other players had received such texts.
(Zulgad’s original tweet: “Brett Favre began telling Vikings officials last night he will NOT return for a 20th season.” Next tweet: “Favre is expected to issue a press release later today. Keep in mind this is Brett Favre and it is Aug. 3.” Three minutes later: “There is a chance ownership will go back to Favre with an offer of more than the 13 million for this season.”)
Had I been working, I would’ve interviewed Zulgad about the blowback, but on Friday, Adam Warwas of the NFL Gridiron Gab blog did a nice job of it.
As you might imagine, Zulgad stood foursquare behind the story; I don’t know Judd’s sources (which of course he won’t reveal), but he has a great reputation, and I have no trouble believing his version.
And if you believe Zulgad (and Shiancoe and national journalists), the next logical step is to conclude that Favre is lying. And that’s exactly what Strib columnist Jim Souhan said — repeatedly — on WCCO’s “Rosen’s Sports Sunday.” Mainstream journalists are all-but-allergic to calling people liars (you need ascertain premeditation, not just misstatement), though sports columnists feel the freest. Souhan didn’t use the L-word in print, but did travel to Mississippi to interview Favre last week.