Whenever you hear someone talk about “the official story,” the one every intelligent person is supposed to immediately recognize as a shameless fraud, someone in the future will make reference to the Brett Favre-Minnesota Vikings dance of a thousand veils we”ve witnessed over the past few months. With Brett Favre now actually “ours” and in town it seems obvious — to any skeptic — that all that “maybe, maybe not, maybe no” silliness of the spring and summer was cover for an implicit understanding.
The Strib’s Patrick Reusse, dropping in on Packer-friendly Gabe’s in the Park in St. Paul, pretty well nails it when he writes, “Brett Favre finally signed with the Vikings — timing his arrival to miss all offseason work, to miss training camp and to miss the opening exhibition on the road. There’s nothing Favre seeks more than adulation, and he will get all that an egomaniac can handle when his on-field unveiling as a Viking takes place Friday night in the Metrodome,” and adding, “The opinion here is the timeline offered Tuesday is a charade — that the Vikings and Favre decided last month to reconnect in mid-August. What shouldn’t be underestimated is Favre’s ability to read Zygi Wilf, and see that he was dealing with a star-struck owner willing to allow the quarterback to dictate terms.”
Reusse’s colleague, Jim Souhan, agrees that Favre played the Wilf family like a Gulf Coast fiddle. He says, “If Favre succeeds, the Vikings will become the No. 1 story in the No. 1 sport in America. They will sell countless jerseys and tickets, and perhaps even raise the profile of their stadium pursuit in the Legislature.” Not to underplay the event, he also says, “Brett Favre signing with the Minnesota Vikings ranks among most stunning stories in the history of sport.” Knowing what chumps legislators can be in the face of braying sports fans, that business about the stadium is not all that far-fetched.
The PiPress’s Bob Sansevere leads with Favre’s “official” version of his latest decision, before acknowledging, “Let’s be honest here. Rosenfels and Jackson, besides sounding like an accounting firm, are backup material. Favre is a hall-of-famer-in-waiting. And he’s ready to get to work, so ready that he wants to play in Friday night’s exhibition game against Kansas City. One of the things you can always count on besides death and taxes is Brett Favre ending his latest retirement. His retirement act grew old in Green Bay, where he constructed his legend and statistics, but he has reinvigorated the Vikings’ fan base.”
Israel Gutierrez, writing for the Miami Herald, minces few words. Referring to the whole long charade, he writes, “It’s impressive in its lack of professionalism. It’s remarkable in its laziness. It’s astounding in its egocentricity.” And then he gets nicer. “Favre is doing everything you would advise your 10-year-old son against: putting yourself before the team, not giving yourself every chance to prepare for success, creating tension with teammates. And, yet, he’s welcomed with applause from strangers and helicopters hovering over his first practice.”
Ex-Stribber Kevin Seifert, writing for ESPN, says, “No matter what he or the Vikings might say at his introductory news conference, it sure seems evident that Favre has always wanted to play for the Vikings — but was unwilling to spend even two weeks in a dormitory at Minnesota State University, Mankato.” I mean that one-for-all, all-for-one thing doesn’t actually mean hanging out 24-7 with big, smelly guys, does it?
Also on ESPN (via the PiPress) was this rather damning perspective from the inside-football crowd. Former Denver Broncos lineman Mark Schlereth says, “The problem you have is, at some point you’re going to face adversity. And, at some point, your coach is going to call on you because you’re not doing things right or things aren’t going right. And you know what you’re going to sit there and think? [That] This guy [Childress] is full of baloney. Because there’s a credibility issue that has been established by that organization. And that’s going to be a problem for the Minnesota Vikings.” Ex-Viking Cris Carrter adds, “I believe there’s been a great deal of dishonesty involved, as far as be[ing] professional and tell[ing] people. You got families that are going to be affected. Sage Rosenfels, they traded for him, and they told him he would have the opportunity to compete for the job. Tarvaris, they told him that.” On the other hand, this stuff is gold for columnnists and talk jocks.
On the matter of goosing chances for a taxpayer-funded stadium, the PiPress’ Bill Salisbury files a report on Gov. Tim Pawlenty welcoming Favre to town but reminding a group up in North Oaks: “It’s clear that the Metrodome isn’t going to serve the Vikings’ needs in the intermediate and long term. It’s also clear that we want to keep the Vikings in Minnesota because they bring excitement and vitality and joy to our state. But we can’t allow that to leapfrog ahead of the other serious and more important challenges that we’re facing in terms of the budget and the economy. And so it’s just going to have to sit on the back burner for a while.” What the governor might say after 20,000 e-mails from get-a-life Vikings fans is a whole other thing.
Case in point, as the sun rose this morning, nearly 50 percent of the Strib’s online poll believe Favre is the final link to the Super Bowl.
Sen. Linda Berglin (DFL-Minneapolis), the Legislature’s go-to on health insurance issues, sounds like she’s had enough of the irrationality and ignorance surrounding the health reform debate. The Strib’s Warren Wolfe writes, “Gov. Tim Pawlenty and other governors who worry that states will face impossible costs with expanded Medicaid health coverage for the poor ‘don’t seem to realize that the federal government will pick up most of that cost,’ [Berglin] said. ‘There will be costs, and there will be savings. I don’t think [the governors are] playing politics. I think they’re just ignorant’ about the proposals.” You know it’s bad when “just ignorant” is the best you can say about critics.
Bad news sounds like good news when it comes from Cargill execs in Matt McKinney’s piece in the Strib. The huge food and commodities trading company saw profits drop 16% — but please note that is a decline in “profit.” McKinney makes the point that with 159,000 employees in more than 60 countries Cargill has a steady read on economic conditions. ” … the company expects the effects of the global economic slowdown to ‘persist for some time,’ ” he writes.
Meanwhile downtown … Target registered its eighth consecutive negative quarter … buts its CEO spun an upbeat story to reporters. Jackie Crosby of the Strib writes, “Basic commodities continue to drive sales, and shoppers are reducing the number of trips they make to the store. Weekend trips have declined even more than weekdays, said Kathee Tesija, senior vice president of merchandising. Groceries, health care items and beauty items remain strong.” Fans of executive boilerplate can smirk at this blather from CEO Gregg Steinhafel: “We’ve got a 47-year heritage of a company that focuses on trend and fashion and being new and hip and cool and fun and exciting,” said Steinhafel, in an interview after the morning conference call with analysts. “Not only do we want to defend those attributes, we want to enhance those attributes, while at the same time enhancing the value proposition.” Uh-huh, “enhancing the value proposition”? I used to use that line in my dating years. Never worked.
Not only are we above average, we’re No. 1! And we’re talking brain power not football. MPR’s Tom Weber has a story about ACT testing around the country with results that show our kids are the smartest in the nation … or at least the best test-takers … if you parse the results just so. “Minnesota students scored an average of 22.7 out of a possible score of 36 on the test. That’s more than 1.5 points higher than the national average. But it’s also an improvement from how Minnesota students did last year.” Weber qualifies the data by reminding readers/listeners that the survey “only looks at those where more than half the grads took the test. That’s where Minnesota gets its No. 1 status. Of Minnesota grads, 68 percent took the test.” No info on where Wisconsin finished.
Well worth pod-casting was Tuesday’s “Midday” segment on MPR with author Robert Wright, best known until now for his book, “Non-Zero” (mini review: fascinating read) and his video-blogging dialogues with Slate writer Mickey Kaus (and others). His latest, “The Evolution of God,” while in no way the withering assault on sentimentalism that Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris have been delivering, Wright applies a form of psychological anthropology to explaining the role deity-forces have played in human society. Warning! Wright makes no reference to Brett Favre-as-deity anywhere in the program. And never mind the way Packer fans used to think of him.