Saturday, January 30, 2010

The "Mystique" of Brett Favre.

It's been a tough decade thus far. One flake of snow becomes a small mound, then becomes a massive snowball, and before you know it, you have a mutating monstrosity hurling down a hill picking up more and more steam with each subsequent yard covered. That's kind of how January was for me. The month limped in the door with the heart-wrenching Bengals season flopping in the playoffs (check out my bitter analysis for more) and progressively had larger and larger dumps taken on it in the form of a towed car, blown muffler, general sickliness, ever-present relationship problems, and heaps of money lost, among other delights. With the NFC and AFC championship weekend, though, the world finally seemed to be righting itself and leveling off into a euphoric wonderland of congruity. Why did this happen? What possible explanation could there be for such a sudden turn of events? It's surprisingly simple. Brett Favre fucked up again.

Now, this is going to seem insignificant to the casual Brett Favre voyeur. I mean, how could the well-being of an entire month and even a fledgling decade be contingent on whether or not a 40-year old, Wrangler-slinging quarterback fucks up or not? Again, I have an easy answer. Brett Favre is a fuckup. He's not the 33 touchdown and seven interception quarterback you saw all season. He's not the 107.2 quarterback rating. He's not the fiery yet lovable leader of a multi-talented Minnesota Vikings team. Favre is a walking mistake, and he proved it again in the NFC championship game last weekend.

Throughout much of the second half of the Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints championship game, I was Internet-ing with the one-and-only Justin Bragg (you may remember him from such hilarity as our Karate Kid text-a-thon). Justin and I both carry a heavy disdain for Brett Favre, which I'll get to in a bit. Anyway, with the score tied at 28 and time winding down, Favre seemed to be driving the Vikings down the field for a shot at a winning field goal (they got as close as the Saints 33-yard-line). As the suspense mounted and Justin and I fetched razors from our medicine cabinets to slit our wrists with, we began toying with the idea of Favre throwing an interception and the Saints running it back for a touchdown. We figured that such a wondrous moment would result in both of our heads exploding from sheer elation and each member of the collective Vikings fan base vomiting simultaneously.

You see, Favre had a good season. As much as it pains me to say that, he did. He was placed in the perfect situation, supported by a well-oiled offensive juggernaut. This is no secret. Favre was a definitive cog in the operation but not the ignition key. It appeared as if he recognized this. For the most part, he shut his mouth and wielded his tools (Peterson, Rice, Berrian, Taylor, Harvin), while reaping the benefits in wins, stats, and media adoration. However, when the game was on the line, Favre felt like he was the one to make the play. He was the reason they were going to win. He was the team. And that's why the Vikings lost.

The interception was vintage Favre. Justin and I were being about as prophetic as we could be, calling a fumble or interception with each approaching play. But on third-and-15 from the 38-yard-line, the stars aligned. Under pressure, Favre rolled right and threw across his body into the middle of the field where he was picked off by the Saints' Tracy Porter. A sweeter and more predictable moment in sports, these eyes have never seen. I could listen to the KFAN play-by-play of the interception until my ears fell off. Paul Allen's reaction is absolutely priceless. For Justin and me, the entire season of badmouthing Favre had been salvaged because he did what he does best. Favre fucked up.

I'm often asked why I harbor such hostility for Brett Favre. Since starting this blog in late 2007, I've devoted several posts to him (check the archive), each revolving around his supposed retirement announcement and subsequent abduction of the football world's attention. Favre has loitered around the league in order to collect all of the quarterbacking records, including interceptions (done), give a middle finger to the Packers by succeeding with the Vikings (done), and win another Super Bowl (fail). He's been to the Super Bowl twice (1996-97), with the only title coming against Drew Bledsoe's New England Patriots over 13 years ago in '96. It's time for the old man to realize that when the playoffs roll around, he's much more the problem than he is the answer.

Favre is a notorious choker, which becomes more and more apparent each year as he chokes on following through with his retirement. The "gunslinger" mentality that has garnered so much lovable press just doesn't translate to championships. The media's enamored with the mindset because it can admiringly call him the "definition of a football player" and point out how much he seems to love the game, but it will always work against him, as this past NFC championship game illustrated so beautifully. Favre can put on the mask of a team player and supposedly respect the fact that he's part of the circus rather than the ringleader, but when the moment counts, he will feel the need to take over, and he will fuck up.

So, I guess I owe Brett Favre a huge thank you. When I levitated from my couch in some sort of loony ecstasy following the interception, I knew that all was right in the world again. The shitstorm that had enveloped the month of January had subsided, and I was able to sleep peacefully again knowing that Brett Favre fucked up. I can hardly wait to see the disaster again next season.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Text-a-Thon: The Karate Kid (Part II)

Yesterday morning, I woke up poorly rested and a bit hungover. Instead of retreating back to my bed, I did a quick channel surf and landed upon VH1, generally a channel with garbage programming. However, the think tank over at MTV's shitty little brother recently decided to show classic 80s movies from time to time. Today's choice: The Karate Kid. Now, I've blogged about The Karate Kid before. It's one of the most re-watchable movies ever (in a pretty close foot race with Hoosiers), and let's be honest, it probably has the best 80s movie montages (Rocky IV runs a close second).

Anyway, my first inclination was to immediately text my good friend Justin Bragg. No doubt he'd be awake channel surfing as well, basically killing time until the day's slate of NFL playoffs started. Much to my surprise (or not really at all), Justin had already texted to notify me about VH1's showing of The Karate Kid. Feeling a bit down in the dumps as it was, I made no real attempt to get my day going. Instead, Justin and I took part in a biting commentary on the nuances of The Karate Kid, one that no doubt made each of us laugh out loud repeatedly and one that may not be found humorous by anyone else. We're fine with that, though. Trust me.

Justin went to painstaking and tedious measures to transcribe the conversation in its entirety (with pieces of his own commentary added in), and I'd feel dirtier and cheaper than usual if I ripped off his text to post on my own blog. Therefore, I'm going to have to ask everyone to take a trip to Justin Bragg's blog, This Is Jeopardy, and read a juvenile conversation between two morons about a movie made 25 years ago.

I also feel like it's worth mentioning that neither Justin or I own magic space phones that do everything but cook you dinner and wipe your ass. The transcription of this conversation involved probably way more time than it was worth, and the often hurried texting process involved several misspellings and more than a fair share of punctuation and grammar mistakes (Justin probably doesn't care about noting this, but I certainly do).


Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Worst Bengals Season of My Life.

Back in 2005, a streaking 4-1 Bengals team met an overmatched 2-3 Texans team. The Texans were a team mired in mediocrity, never having found their way since entering the league in 2002. The Bengals were a team on the rise with a dynamic offense headed up by soon-to-be Pro Bowler Carson Palmer and surrounded by an outspoken and talented receiving core. Things were meshing for the Bengals, aside from their defense of course. Still trying to find its way under "defensive mastermind" Marvin Lewis, the defense basically relied on the offense to outscore opponents. As we all know, that didn't quite work out, albeit a solid effort. The season ended with the Bengals limping into the playoffs, and Carson eventually boarding the infamous shame-mobile and being carted off the field with a shredded ACL. Only two plays into the playoffs, and the offensive juggernaut and season were shut down.

So, why am I bringing up that Texans game, anyway? Well, I vividly remembering watching that Texans game and being hopelessly frustrated the entire time. Sure, the defense was playing well enough, but the offense was sputtering and not putting an inferior team away. Final score: Bengals 16 Texans 10. Yes, we won. That's all fine and dandy, but there's no reason a punchline like the Texans should've hung around like that. I've watched what seems like 43 trillion games in which the Bengals were the punchline, and the opponent impolitely put its cleat on our team's collective throat. However, this game was an exception to what proved to be a season of potent scoring and lackluster defense. Which would you prefer?

So, who was really confident going into the playoffs this season? I suppose several of us, myself included, were foolishly confident. Big mistake. The team scored over 20 points in only six games during the regular season. They didn't score a second half touchdown in six consecutive games (unreal). Carson threw for over 300 yards once all season (a loss to the Chargers in which our offense looked semi-competent and the game was actually entertaining). Awful teams like Kansas City, Detroit, Cleveland, and Oakland stuck around in games and in Oakland's case, actually won. Wins are wins, and I understand that, but the frustration and anxiety expended by the possibility of having to watch shit teams attempt onside kicks at the ends of games is unforgivable. Finally, the fact that the Bengals had to wait until the end of overtime to beat the worst team in the NFL at the moment (Browns) is straight disgusting. That game made me want to dropkick the TV.

Everything came to a head in the Jets game last Saturday. The Bengals had been sliding along the floor on their asses for the majority of the season and barely eeking out games. They deserved to lose and we, the Bengals supporting public, were appropriately left unsatisfied by the game, the season, and the team as a whole. I don't know about you, but I'd much rather watch a viscous offensive stallion rampage teams and leave it up to an okay defense to hold its ground. If it doesn't happen, that sucks, but at least I got to watch a goddamn entertaining football game. Those were few and far between this season. Just fucking entertain me. That should be your business. Being content can be a dangerous thing. AFC North champs? Big whoop. Hosting a playoff game? Pffffft. Yeah, you best believe I'm still bitter.

Suck it, Bengals.

Rant over.