To Win Another Super Bowl, Favre Must Master His Ego For a Full Season

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I am not a fan of Brett Favre. But I sure as hell admire him. In his recent defeat in the NFC Championship game, I admit, I was haunted by the outcome. I couldn’t sleep afterwards, constantly replaying his final pass of the game over and over in my mind. It was his eyes, from their look of expectation the moment the ball left his hand to their look of dejection when he walked off the field.

As a fan of Troy Aikman, I couldn’t appreciate Favre. They were intense rivals and I couldn’t stand the idea of the young Packer outshining him. I felt this way until Brett’s love for physical play won me over. I remember the precise moment. At the time, the most dominant defensive tackle in the league, the Buccaneers’ Warren Sapp, lambasted him after he launched a pass deep downfield during one of their epic Lambeau Field battles. What I saw amazed me. Right after being demolished, Brett sprang to his feet and lauded Sapp for his hustle and effort. Then and there, as a fan of football all my life, I recognized an unparalleled love for the game of football.

When it came to Brett’s indecision as far as retirement goes, I always gave him the benefit of the doubt. I was never fully convinced that he was a prima donna or an attention seeking glory hound. I just figured that part of him felt inclined to retire, while the other wanted to make sure he no longer involved himself with mini camps and training camp. At his age, can you blame him?

I have long compared the Vikings to the Browns of the NFC. The Browns, they have to suffer the ignominy of choking in such famous games as Red Right 88, the Drive, and the Fumble. The Vikings, they have the Hail Mary, Gary Anderson’s missed field goal, and now this…

What do we call this game?

Brett Favre played all year like he was a reformed man. Team first. I don’t need to be the superstar. And in this game we were watching him putting the finishing touches on a spectacular career. It had to be the grittiest, most determined effort he’s ever given in a game.

And then, with the game on the line, the Vikings rolled him out on third down on the cusp of field goal range with mere seconds on the clock and gave him the option to make an easy pass if it was available to him or take the yards given to him on the ground.

This was the moment. If he chooses correctly, he would prove once and for all that he was truly a team player – that he wasn’t just in it for himself. If he runs the ball, regardless of the outcome, he walks away a hero… the embodiment of courage and leadership…

But this wasn’t good enough for him. He wanted to make one last spectacular play, and he was willing to stake the entire fate of his own team and all the Vikings fans on an ill advised pass across the field, the cardinal sin of quarterbacks. Of course, we know the outcome. Brett chose Brett.

After all the hits he absorbed, how he was out there hobbling on a taped up ankle, this was not the ending he deserved, nor we deserved. It’s not Brett’s fault that his team fumbled their way out of an opportunity to win in a blowout. It’s not Brett’s fault that the refs helped the Saints get into field goal range in overtime by calling a phantom pass interference call and awarding Henderson a catch when replays show the ball was clearly moving.

But they still lost, and they never got their chance to kick the field goal that could have won it. This is what makes such an ending so bitter, even for non-Vikings fans like myself. I felt deprived, and there was nothing I could do to make this emptiness go away.

So what do we call this game? I suggest we call it the Ego.

I think Brett Favre truly aspires to the ideal of putting the team first, but it’s just so engrained him to pursue his own glory that he was willing to stake the outcome of the game on it-even one that would have result in a Super Bowl appearance. In the heat of battle, I don’t think he was was consciously selfish, but unconsciously self-serving. No doubt, he knew it was wrong, but he’s gotten away with it before and he thought he could so again. His gamble just didn’t pay off.

If there’s one thing I hope Brett can learn from this is that football is a team game for every single snap. At any moment in the game, regardless of the pressure on you, you have to do what’s best for the team and know your role.

Nobody knows for sure if Brett will return next season, but if he can build on his incredible play as a Viking and put his quest for personal glory aside for an entire season, hopefully the Ego can finally be put to rest and another Lombardi trophy can be added before he takes his permanent place in Canton.

In the meantime, if I was Brett Favre, I’d be getting together for a beer with Earnest Byner.

write by Fergal

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