Don’t fall for the latest Brett Favre retirement rumor

Brett Favre
REUTERS/Eric Miller
Brett Favre

I’m not buying any of this. And neither should you.

Whether Brett Favre announces his retirement today, tomorrow, next week or in 2017, why should anyone believe Madonna with stubble?

More than any other pro athlete in our time, Favre — who may or may not have texted retirement hints to Minnesota Vikings teammates on Monday night — has mastered the art of media manipulation. Like a movie star from the 1930s who knows any publicity is good publicity, he’s learned when to talk, whom to talk to and how to play coy to his advantage.

He’s played this retirement gambit for five years now, starting in 2006, and he’s reversed course so often he’s got as much credibility as BP.

In 2008, he filed retirement papers with the NFL, changed his mind, barged into Green Bay’s training camp and tried to bully general manager Ted Thompson into trading him to the Vikings. Thompson, unmoved, sent him to the Jets instead.

Last year, after asking the Jets to release him, Favre negotiated with the Vikings, decided to stay retired, then led fans and at least one news helicopter on an O.J. Simpson-like chase when he finally showed up Aug. 18. Favre said he was having second thoughts when Vikings Coach Brad Childress called him on the 17th and asked if his decision was final, a story that sounded almost too sensational to be true.

The latest retirement rumors broke this morning. The topic dominated the questioning at Childress’ news conference in Mankato, giving the coach another chance to mangle the English language as he tried to talk over the heads of the people covering the team. Quoting Childress at length is dangerous. He speaks in paragraphs cloaked with jargon, makes obscure references to 1950s popular culture (the day he tried whistling the theme from “Lassie” was classic), and often makes up words as he’s going along, baffling even the most savvy observers.

Childress was in classic form this morning, saying he spoke to Favre within the last 24 hours and claiming Favre never mentioned retiring. “I’m not a big hearsay person,” he said. “I’m a horse-say person. I’ve got to hear it from the horse’s mouth.”

Horse-say? Is that even a word? So what does that make Favre?

Now, Favre could have been sitting home in Hattiesburg, Miss., his surgically-repaired left ankle aching, feeling down, then venting with texts to a couple of teammates. It happens. As of early afternoon, Favre hadn’t checked in yet with his ESPN buddies, and his agent, Bus Cook, is often the last to know anything.

But as we’ve all learned, nothing is ever final with this guy. He’s due to make $13 million this year, which buys a lot of groceries, jeans and kids’ clothes. (Favre is a grandpa now, remember.) Teammates say the sting of the NFC Championship Game loss still gnaws at him, and no one questions his toughness and competitiveness.

Favre could use the ankle as a reason to blow off the preseason entirely, something he couldn’t do last year coming to a new team. It’s less of an issue now that he knows the offense and his personnel. Favre wouldn’t be the first player to start an opener after missing the preseason, or even the first couple of weeks of the regular season, though it would be funny if Tarvaris Jackson were leading the NFL in passing when our hero finally strolled into Winter Park.

Even Favre makes money off his indecisiveness; bet the house we’ll see that Sears plasma TV commercial, or an updated version, this fall.

But this can’t be fun for Vikings stadium lobbyist Lester Bagley, whose chances of getting a bill through the Legislature next year hinge as much on the on-field product as the new occupant of the governor’s mansion. The Vikes are Super Bowl contenders with Favre and uncertain without, and an 8-8 season might mean a couple of one-year extensions on the Metrodome lease instead of a gleaming new stadium. (Bagley declined to address extending the lease when I raised it with him the other day, which isn’t surprising because it weakens his bargaining position.) Anything less than Favre in uniform makes Bagley’s already difficult job harder.

Even if Favre announces he’s done, files retirement papers or whatever, there’s no reason to take him at his word. If you’ve got a beating heart, you should be skeptical. Maybe Favre wore No. 4 all these years because that’s how many retirements he’s planning, which means he’s got two left. Or is it one?

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Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by Cathie Perrault on 08/03/2010 - 04:56 pm.

    Brett doesn’t have to start the rumors. With so many media outlets making up news, somebody was probably having a slow day and said, “I know, Let’s plant a rumor that Favre retired.” The circus started back when Brett was turning 30. Someone in the media asked him if he was considering retiring soon. As most any 30 year old playing in the NFL would say, of course I think about it. That’s all it took for media hype to start to roll, and it has been going on ever since.

  2. Submitted by Hénock Gugsa on 08/03/2010 - 05:03 pm.

    Oh, no. Favre should be banned from MinnPost pages like that Lohan gal.
    But, here we go again! (Courtesy: Ray Charles.)

    [Chorus]
    Here we go again
    He’s back in town again
    I’ll take him back again
    One more time

    [Ray Charles]
    Here we go again
    The phone will ring again
    I’ll be her fool again, I will
    One more time

    I’ve been there before
    And I will try it again
    Any fool, any fool knows
    That there’s no no way to win
    Here we go again
    She’ll break my heart again, yeah
    I’ll play the part again
    One more time
    I’ve been there before, you know what
    I will try it again

    But any fool, any fool knows
    That there’s no, no way to win

    [Together with chorus]
    Here we go again

    [Ray Charles]
    She’ll break my heart again, yeah

    [Together with chorus]
    I’ll play the part again
    One more time
    I’ll take her back again
    One more time

    [Ray Charles]
    I will

  3. Submitted by Rod Loper on 08/04/2010 - 08:21 am.

    This brings to mind that great Dick Guindon cartoon of many years ago depicting an aging fan
    sprawled across his living room reaching for a
    TV screen displaying a Viking logo as he was being tackled by his wife. The caption: “How
    COULD you after what they did to you last year?”

  4. Submitted by Tay Oats on 08/04/2010 - 10:37 am.

    Well, is he a “master manipulator” or is he “feeling down” because of his unhealed ankle? What are you blathering on about?

  5. Submitted by Wayne Miller on 08/04/2010 - 12:46 pm.

    My sources are now saying that it will soon be announced, as a condition of Favre’s return, he will both become majority owner of the Vikings and they will be relocating to Hattiesburg before the start of the regular season.

  6. Submitted by Hénock Gugsa on 08/04/2010 - 02:09 pm.

    Hattiesburg!

    M I S S I S S I P P I !!!

    Then it’s true: The South shall rise again?

    I feel like adding that rejoinder from the Pace Picante sauce commercial … where someone says, “This sauce is made in New York City!” … and the nearby country folk chime back: “New York City?!!!” … and one lone cowboy with a deep voice and a raised eye brow says, “Get a rope!”

  7. Submitted by Marilyn Meier-O'Brien on 08/04/2010 - 04:41 pm.

    Enjoy the ride. It’s a roller -coaster. Isn’t it all hype and news. The media loves this.

    Heck, I want Brett back and I hope he can squeeze in 2 years. He is so fun to watch and loves the game soo much.

    Here’s to you Brett. I hear nothing but good things about Brett so leave him be. Let him feel good first and why doesn’t anyone jump on Manning for the interception.

  8. Submitted by Pat Borzi on 08/05/2010 - 04:51 pm.

    Cathie: As you probably realize by now, “the media” did not make up this story. It came from the Vikings themselves. I’ve never heard that Favre story about retirement at age 30, and I thought I knew them all. I’d love to see a link if you’ve got one.

    Tay: As I sit here now, I vote for master manipulator. With a couple of texts, and without even showing up for work, he got his bosses to offer him a nearly 20 percent raise. Try that with your boss and see what happens.

    And J.J.: Thanks for the Ray Charles lyrics. Boy, wouldn’t it be great if that was the B side of Hit The Road Jack?

  9. Submitted by james wuerker on 08/12/2010 - 02:57 pm.

    butt fart the little highschool girl texting people because espn neglected to mention his name 4 one day. except it. confirmed twice. an exact repeat of last years lies by favre. just like every post-season is a repeat of the last SIX. nothin but turnovers and then refuse to own up to it. its ALWAYS someone elses fault'”we’ll have to look at the tape-receiver probably ran tne wrong route”. guy makes me puke. manipulative, deceitful, narcissistic liar! ive been a packer fan for 53 yrs so ive seen all of favres moves. he uses people to get the attention he needs and EVERYONE is fair game. his coach, his teamates, the team owner, his agent, even his wife must be embarrassed by his childish behavior. i almost feel bad 4 viking fans (NOT) because yur about to get kicked in the gut again this year. i promise favre will throw twice as many ints this year as he did last year. cant wait for the idiot to come back- let the beatings begin. ps bet he skips the first reg season game against the champs to avoid another beatdown.

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