JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

It never ends well

Worked until 2:30 in the morning in my little basement hovel (where I’m sitting right now), so I didn’t catch anything from Bears-Vikings until this morning at the gym.

Flipped to ESPN, saw Brett Favre slammed to the ground, then lying relatively motionless with a concussion. The team is terrible. The field was hard. The final score was embarrassing. He was replaced by a rookie from Alabama-Birmingham with an ugly tattoo covering his bicep.

The. End.

Well, maybe not the end. The Vikings have two games remaining, and because Favre is “gutsy” and “magical” and “heroic” and all those other words ESPN’s anchors throw around like dog biscuits, he’ll probably be dumb enough to risk health and play. But make no mistake about it, when—years from now—we’re watching videos about the life and career of Brett Favre, the final segment ends with him lying on a slab of green sheetrock, motionless. The announcer will talk about his courage, but add, “Sometimes courage goes too far.”

Generally speaking, I’m actually a fan of athletes hanging on. When New Yorkers spoke of how sad it was to see Patrick Ewing in Seattle and Orlando uniforms, I defended him. “Once this lifestyle is over,” I said, “it’s over. So why not hang on as long as possible.” The same went for Michael Jordan. Even when Jim Palmer tried returning, I thought, “Hey, why not?”

Favre, however, is different. He plays a sport that numbs the senses; a sport where a 41-year-old man doesn’t belong. Watching him lie on the turf was sad and pathetic and, in a sense, self-inflicted. It was the poster football players need to see when they’re considering hanging on for too long.

The other poster—and I hope this isn’t true—might be designed in, oh, five years, when Brett Favre can’t reach down to tie his shoes.

PS: It also doesn’t help if you take pictures of your penis and send them to people. Just sayin’.