That Brett Favre "thing", Michael Jordan and other pet peeves

Image by Chris Hands, Madtoons.blogspot.comThat Brett Favre would be a Viking this season has been fait accompli for months now, no matter how ESPN (what would they have done this summer without Brett, bore us with more meaningless baseball minutia?) and other media have dragged out the suspense. Favre has been the face of the NFL since 1996 or so, when his only rival in professional sports for icon status was his "greatness" – Michael Jordan. Favre is gonna play out his string, obviously — and he'll run that string as long as he feels like running it, just as Jordan did.

Seeing ol' Brett in a Vikings uniform last weekend was weird, maybe even bizarre, the kind of thing that goes over well in this column — but it just doesn't bother me all that much, though I've been a Packer fan almost as long as I've been a Bucks fan (yes, I remember the Vikes Purple People Eaters defense).

No less a source than John Madden last season said the Packers were nuts to cut Favre loose after clawing to within a coinflip of the Super Bowl, and I've always agreed with that. One more go-around with Brett was "a no brainer", Madden said — but apparently not for Packers GM Ted Thompson. Sure, Madden said it in a downtown Chicago restaurant to one of his favorite chefs working undercover for the Bob Boozer Jinx, but he said it nonetheless.

A coinflip you say? That's right — the game was lost when the frostbitten Packers won the coinflip and elected to receive in OT against the equally frostbitten Giants. Big advantage to the defense on that frozen tundra. Not to make excuses for Brett's lousy sideline toss, but maybe coach McCarthy should have noticed that neither team had been able to move the ball the final 20 minutes or so of that game. After thawing out halftime, players on both sides were good for 10 minutes, and then refroze.

Since then, the Packer faithful has spent a lot of time being annoyed with Favre and rationalizing Thompson's decision to move on — though it was a decision that ran against the natural order of sports hero worship. Did the Broncos treat John Elway the way Thompson dealt with Favre? Did the Lakers discourage Magic Johnson from playing on, even when he had AIDS? Did the Celtics force Larry Bird into retirement? How about the Brewers and the Hall of Fame face of the franchise, Robin Yount? No, heck no, no and no again.

There is, however, one large and looming exception – da Bulls handling of Jordan after championship number VI in 1998. Bulls GM Jerry Krause basically did the same thing to Jordan that Thompson did to Favre — discouraged his star's return while stating a preference to move on. The result was the same — the face of the sport decided he was going to have the last word, and eventually came back to take his final bows for a different franchise (Washington Wizards).

The main difference between Favre and Jordan's situations (other than a few championships and a lot of crying in the media tent) is that it's much more difficult, I would think, to come back and play football after two years than it would be to take the breaks from basketball that Jordan did — even the three year break Jordan took (summer 1998-summer 2001) after "retiring" from the Bulls. Favre, at 39, doesn't have three years to wait. He's already older than Jordan was (38) when Jordan came out of retirement to play for the Wizards (two seasons). Favre has to play now or hang it up.

And of course Brett's going to play. The game is played for the likes of Brett Favre and the fans who love to watch him in all of his gunslinging glory. He's been (arguably) the most exciting player in the NFL over the last 20 years, the closest thing the game has had to Magic, Bird and Jordan. For a time in the 1990's (1996-98) he and Jordan were the kings of professional sports. Was either of them bigger than the game? No, but not too many fans had qualms about worshipping the ground touched by their Nike's while they were winning games in Green Bay and Chicago. No reason to get upset about whatever ol' Brett decides to do with himself now that he's somebody else's prima donna. 

Favre could conceivably keep this going for years — the Vikings were only one team desperately in need of a quarterback this season. There'll be plenty of voices out there encouraging him to do so. Brett Favre is good for the game of pro football, no doubt about that. And, like Jordan, he's going to have the last word.

It's time for we Packer fans, in keeping with all that is good and great about being faithful football afficionados living in the very cradle of football, to get over this Brett Favre "thing." Let's enjoy arguably the greatest (easily the most entertaining) quarterback of his generation while he lasts. If our Pack can't beat his Vikings this season, well … Ted Thompson certainly asked for it, didn't he? 

Charlie Bell delivers mail as part of the Bucks/onmilwaukee.com "Hey Charlie, Do My Job" promotion.TWITTER: Remember the Charlie Villanueva twitter episode at halftime vs. the Celtics last season? Yeah, it's just as annoying now as it was back then. Well, I finally signed up a couple of days ago, probably because Brewhoop is on twitter and I had a "gotta keep up with the Jones'" moment, terrible confession such as it is.

I present to you now an actual twitter conversation that took place between Andrew Bogut and Charlie Bell, sometime late Thursday-Friday ayem of last week, as the Bucks began convening in Milwaukee for the start of the 2009-10 season.:

Bogut: Just woke up from a nap, this jet lag is playing games with me.

Bell: Me and @missmichiganusa at sunset.

Bogut: where you at? I'm throwing eggs at your house. …

Charlie: I will ambush your crib when I get back if you get within 100 yds of my house.

Bogut: Let me know if you want some bacon when you get back.

And that's the way it was, Friday, August 21, 2009 …

Bell is one Buck who has been in Milwaukee most of the summer doing local promotions, namely the ongoing "Do my job, Charlie" fun and games. Bogut was just getting in from Australia (hence the jet lag). The twitter window into their camaraderie was interesting, funny, and really stupid in the best possible light. They've been Bucks longer than anybody but Michael Redd and those lawyers Kohl has up in the upper echelons of the front office. Bogut and Bell both seem excited about the coming season, and that's great to see — they'll be called on to lead the Bucks.

Twitter, however, stays on my peeve list. What do you do with the thing other than eavesdrop?

ESPN: Big surprise here, right? ESPN is reporting that Bogut's lower back is still a question mark. This runs counter to what the Madison Cap Times reported days earlier — "Bogut's back better". Who to believe? The Cap Times, of course. The fact that Bogut's just fine and well rested is apparently not dishy enough for the folks at the ESpecially Pissy Network we love to hate (see Brett Favre entry above).

Milwaukee Bucks/GM John Hammonds' definition of "a shooter":  On and on I've gone about how Michael Redd really hasn't lived up to his rep as a great shooter for years; and the terrible shooting of Luke Ridnour and former Buck Charlie V (this started with game 1 2008, a Bucks brickfest in Chicago).  Now the Bucks are telling fans that newly acquired Carlos Delfino (in a trade for PF Amir Johnson and bench guard-forward Sonny Weems) has a good shooting touch. Does this appraisal of Delfino have anything to do with the ball going through the hoop? Apparently not – check out Delfino's career NBA stats. He's a 35.6% three-baller with a 40% overall career shooting mark. Why should Michael Redd or Charlie Bell pass Delfino the ball? Ersan Ilyasova is open, too, and Jodie Meeks will want to shoot it. Heck, I'M open and I'm perfectly willing to hit 35% of my threes for the NBA minimum. Delfino's getting $3.5 million.

File under John Hammond, errr, miscommunications: "Joe Alexander can play power forward" (last season); "Kurt Thomas figures in our plans"; "Salim Stoudamire's a good shooter and a guy we like"; Sure, Michael Redd is a cornerstone, if you ask me whether he's a cornerstone …" "Luke Ridnour can stretch defenses …" …

And here are Delfino's comments on the subject of bombing away from three-point-land: "…when asked about his shooting prowess and whether he could give the Bucks another three-point threat to complement Michael Redd, Delfino said, 'Michael is here (holding his hand high in the air), and I am right here (bringing his hand down considerably). I can help. I like to do many different things. Sometimes I can score.'"

Bring both of those hands down, senor, unless referencing the rising level of this peeve entry, compounded as it is by the inanity of the question asked.

Obviously, Bucks fans can't get straight talk from GM Hammond. We can be assured, however, that the drafting of point guard Brandon Jennings and the surprise free agent pickup of Hakim Warrick to man start at power forward are two positive developments that have not required any obfuscation from Bucks central.

For basketball reference, Mr. Hammond: J.D. Mo's favorite shooting list, the NBA's top 50 active three-point shooters. Redd is no longer in the top 30, down to #32 and is the only current Buck in the top 50. However, take Redd's % from downtown since he became a full-time starter in the post Ray Allen era (2003), Redd's nowhere near the top 50. 

Six former Bucks plus Bruce Bowen, released last summer, are in the top 30, led by Bobby Simmons. Also note that Scott Skiles' Baby Bulls starting guard tandem, shooter Eric Gordon (#4) and PG Kirk Hinrich (#37), are both in the top 50; and Mo Williams — after two consecutive seasons of great shooting — has climbed the list to #33. 

What, only four peeves, J.D. Mo? Don't get me started on that NBA Division rival "thing" … or Gery Woelful, realgm, local media kissing Michael Redd's katootsis … Magic loves Kobe, the Lakers in general, overrating the western conference, tim duncan "power forward" … never ending chatter – ESPN again – about the free agency class of 2010 (can we play some 2009-10 hoops first? Please?) ….

Barking in the dog days of summer, jonesin' for some NBA action. 

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