Brett Favre's last stand

Can the old gunslinger still make us believe?

Can the old gunslinger still make us believe?

September 20, 1992.  That was the last day (byes excluded, of course) in which Brett Favre didn't start in an NFL game.  The ensuing Sunday, Favre's active, record streak of 291 consecutive games (315 including playoffs) began.  

Now, after suffering both a stress fracture and a heel avulsion on his already-tender left wheel in the Vikings' 28-24 loss to Green Bay, Favre's streak -- as its' been through a myriad of injuries during his storied career -- is again in jeopardy.

In a season full of Purple questions, the latest now becomes: What do we want to see this Sunday in New England?


This much we know:  Brett Favre looks old.  Brett Favre is hurt.  Brett Favre has a contentious working relationship with Brad Childress.  Brett Favre has played poorly this season.  Brett Favre now faces the glare of a nation for his role in an untoward extramarital flirtation (if not more).  Brett Favre should not have come back to play football this season.

And we also know that Brett Favre -- for all his faults, for all his ego, for all his drama -- can be magic.

After offering another inconsistent performance last Sunday night, Favre appeared at the post-game presser looking like he carried the weight of the universe on his 41-year-old shoulders.  And as he hobbled from the podium after a series of weary quotes, he appeared so damn sad and defeated.  Like the wealth of his season: it was tough to watch.

Last week in this space, I admonished Favre for attempting drive these 2010 Vikings on a near-empty tank, at the peril of a talented team.  If he goes again this weekend and attempts to fell the 5-1 Patriots on one leg, it would only be consistent of me to further my prior dig with an all-out vilification.


And I was prepared to offer that herein.  But I won't.

Call it nostalgia or romanticism or a soft-spot or sentimentality whatever you want.  But I want to see Favre play on Sunday and end the Vikings seven-game road losing streak.  I want to see him wholly incise and dissect and punish a suspect New England pass defense and bring the Vikings to a game within .500.  I want to see him grimace and limp and suffer his way through a 282 yard pass effort, a mark the Pats' are allowing per game this season, bad for 30th in the league.  I want to see him add to the 12 touchdown tosses that New England has give up, charting as the 7th most in the NFL.  I want to see him gimp around younger and more agile Patriot defenders who've accrued a mere 12 sacks on the year while a dumfounded Bill Belichick looks on from the sideline.  I want to see him raise a tired arm toward an ecstatic Viking sideline as they embrace the grandfather and rally about him and save their season with just their second victory in New England in franchise history.

When Favre tossed the game-winning TD that wasn't to Pervin Harvin against the Pack, we

saw, for one of the few times this season, a glimmer of the boyish enthusiasm ubiquitously extolled by John Madden in Favre's green and gold of yore.  The dichotomy presented at the presser 90-minutes later may as well have been narrated by Vincent Price.

Perhaps what we'll see Sunday afternoon is an eager and athletic Tarvaris Jackson, again trying to make a name for himself as a legit NFL quarterback.  And maybe, employing the left side of our brains and some prudence, that's what we should see, win or lose.

"I'm willing to give it a try," Favre said earlier this week.  I trust I'm not alone in noting the unintended double-meaning of the statement, given all the untoward sampling of life he's tried away from the gridiron.  Perhaps Favre would evidence his greatest strength by stepping away this weekend.  Yet if he does, I'm of the belief that he may stepping away for good.

This Sunday is Brett Favre's last stand.  He clearly implied in his comments this week that he won't start on Sunday just to try out the ankle for a series and extend his streak.  I believe him. Others may not.

But I think that if Favre sits on Sunday, that may be the last we see of him on an NFL field.  His code of luminary toughness will have penned its final consecutive chapter, and the graybeard won't subject himself to a lasting image of a boot, a ballcap, and a clipboard.  He won't want to endure the questions and the doctors and the quarterback controversy as the season bleeds away, week by week.  He'll want his last hit to be in uniform, at Lambeau Field -- not via the public poundings of SNL and South Park and the future parodies and digs that are sure to come.

Brett Favre's legacy may not be one of a "quality" person.  For some: he's just a good ol' boy, former pill-popping disorganized narcissist who maybe cheated on his wife, the cancer survivor.  For others:  the shortcomings are washed away by the past highlights of his gunslinger right arm.

But rest assured: Brett Favre will be remembered.  And going down like a chump would be the greatest pain he could ever suffer.