November 28, 2014

Have Gunslinger, Won’t Travel

logoMy daughter said the F-word last week. Here we were Thursday, happily watching the game, and out it blurted:

“Daddy, did the man just say, ‘Brett Favre’?”

Oh dear. We knew this day would come. A little bit before I expected, but here we are. Deep breath.

No, honey, there is no Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy is just bribery so you won’t freak out at the blood, and the Easter Bunny? Well, I have no earthly clue what the Easter Bunny’s supposed to be about. There’s also no pot of gold at rainbow’s end, and Mickey Mouse is actually just some girl sweating her butt off in a mouse suit in the Florida sun.

And yes, sadly there is a Brett Favre.

Turns out Brett Favre is one friend’s favorite player, and being so thrilled to hear the name on TV (yeah, just wait, honey), my daughter had to tell her best friend about it.

“Brett Barf?” he responded. Whether a character judgment or an allusion to Favre’s Vicodin days, I must say, prescient lad.

Actually, I come to praise Brett Favre. No, really.

In the Jets’ win against the Patriots a week ago, Favre had one of his most impressive days ever. Certainly not statwise, paling in comparison to a number of games. But he played a nice, efficient game, checking down to secondary receivers, not forcing balls, and generally taking what the Patriots defense gave him.

In stark contrast to his legend, he wasn’t drawing up plays in the dirt, he wasn’t winging it, and he actually seemed to grasp the concept of nickel defenses. It even looked like he just wasn’t having fun out there.

Assuming he can keep it going, this poses a grim harbinger for the rest of the season. See, this isn’t the Brett Favre we signed onto when we hoped the Jets would bite. We wanted the impatient, self-obsessed diva looking to win each game with his arm, not this studious, measured game manager.

And here’s another first: Eric Mangini doing something right. How did he, or Brian Schottenheimer, do it? I didn’t think he had it in him. Did he bring one of his Sopranos goombahs down to have a chat?

“Nice family you got there. Be a shame if something were to happen before Breleigh’s half birthday. If youse knew what was good for you, you’d check down to your tight end on third down.”

Favre’s long since secured his spot in Canton, the hearts of Packers fans, and in Peter King’s 8mm home movies, but think of how much more he could have achieved if he played like this from the start. You know, actually listening to his coaches.

What’s he got to show for doing it his way? Plenty from an individual perspective, sure, what with three MVP awards. But in terms of team accomplishment, much less so: Two Super Bowl appearances, one Super Bowl win, but then a slew of playoff runs aborted by ill-advised throws.

He’s the old million dollar arm, five-cent head story, other than that for a a brief period, he had that raw talent harnessed by a coach who knew how to make something out of it. He bucked the coach eventually, and coasted on reputation for much of this decade, free to freewheel whenever he wanted, and running roughshod over any coach, player, or GM that stood in the way of him cashing checks off his late 90s laurels.

But now suddenly he’s tempered, controlled, and – dare we say it – matured? Not sure I buy it.

Thursday night, even after his success through three quarters, the media was still pining for the old Brett.

“Brett should take off the cuffs,” opined Cris Collinsworth.

“Yes, absolutely!” I yelled at the set. “Take off the cuffs, Brett! It’s all on you, Brett! You’ve got to make something happen, Brett! Downfield, preferably to the guy who’s double-covered.”

No such luck.

Post-game, the media lavished more Brettlove upon the quarterback, oblivious to the fact he just won the game by being the AntiFavre. He was deserving of the praise, sure, but for going against every baser instinct he possessed, not succumbing to them.

If this is who Brett Favre is now, the Jets might really have a shot at this, at least in the AFC. All the traditional powers have struggled, and only Tennessee has risen above the fray. Nobody in the conference looks dominant.

But it’s hard to believe this will hold up. There’s got to be a moment somewhere in the waning weeks when Brett says to himself, “Screw this, what do these guys know?” and goes rogue.

C’mon, Brett. Where’s that old Favre magic we know and love so well?

Dan Snapp’s ‘Direct Snapp’ appears weekly on Patriots Daily. He can be reached at [email protected].

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