We once more examine whether Vikings QB Brett Favre, who is being paid more than $1 million per game this season, earned his paycheck. Let's take a look at the Week 14 loss to the Giants.
As you know by now, Favre did not play a game for the first time since 1992. Bill Clinton hadn't even won his first election yet. John Grisham was the man. The 49ers were maybe the best team in football. The Patriots were maybe the worst. Oh, how long ago ...
Clearly, Favre did not earn his million-plus on Monday. As the game was delayed a day and some change, it appeared that Mother Nature had stepped in and given Favre a chance to play. Luck played such a big, but understated role, in the streak and it appeared as if the fates were in alignment for 297 to turn to 298.
Alas, it wasn't to be. And for many, it's good that it happened this way. Shots by Fox cameras of Favre's purple hands showed both the limitations of a football warrior and the realization of a man that his time had come. No good would have come from taking the field and getting killed out there.
So what did Favre earn most on Monday? Respect. He traveled with his teammates, sat through what had to be three of the stranger hours he ever has endured on a sideline and came to grips with his football mortality. It has happened to every athlete before, and for Favre, everything came full circle last night.
Based on the fact that Favre was hawking footballs commemorating the 297 straight games mere minutes after he was made inactive probably means two things: (1) he understands the streak's place in history, and (2) Favre isn't about to give back any of that salary he's earned this season. He likes his money, and by golly, the man has earned it.
This season might be seen as a waste of Vikings dollars and an unneeded return to the field for Favre, but I think we all knew his ending would never be pretty. Nothing about his career was clean and neat. He completed his first pass to ... himself. He suffered through pain-killer addiction. He once threw six picks in a playoff game at St. Louis. He had an ugly divorce with the Packers and probably got Eric Mangini fired for not coming out of the lineup with the Jets. Favre ended his Packers career, his Jets career and — now that I think he's done playing — his Vikings career with interceptions.
It was always imperfect with him, but it's in that vulnerability, that imperfection, that we most can identify with Favre. He was simultaneously superhuman and quite penetrable. Favre let us into his world so often, all the ups and downs and sideways, that we turned on him for his transparency. We bemoaned the fact that he waffled so often and — perish the thought — showed his raw, human emotion.
There might not be another player like him, ever. In a time of media sterility and players who are trained, almost from birth, to be robotic football players and even more wooden interviews, personality and flair and wild swings of thought are very rare and almost viewed as suspect. Favre was cut from an older, rougher-hewn cloth, and we should appreciate what he was, flaws and all.
So no, he fell far from earning his paycheck Monday, or for that matter, most of this season. But things ended the way they probably should have. With nary a clean line or easy exit.