Sunday, November 23, 2008
Much has been written about the fawning and seemingly amorous prose sportswriters have been spinning about Brett Favre. This a source of much amusement among the denizens of the Interwebs. I have no doubt that we all will be treated to even more effusive fellating of the aged QB now that the Jets knocked off the previously undefeated Titans of Tennessee. There will be premature celebrations throughout Strong Island and songs will be sung of Favre's glory.
But, I don't know if there will be anything in Newsday or any of Peter King's columns that is as bizarrely (and chock full of homo-erotic undertones) focused as something that appeared over at the World Wide Leader this past Friday. Greg Garber penned an article purportedly about the way in which Favre's enthusiasm has lifted the spirits of his teamamtes but literally about the way in which the ol' gunslinger is known for playing grab-ass. Garber's story came in just under 900 words and just under 200 of those words were in some way a riff on butt-slapping. There were a few statistics mixed in and tip of the cap to Kris Jenkins and Alan Faneca but Garber kept coming right back to buttocks. He's obsessed. There are quotes from two people that were clearly the result of line of questioning focused on asses. To make sure readers understood the motif of his article, Garber even rammed home a regrettable "backside" pun.
But, let's stop talking about the story and just take a look at it. Below is the opening paragraph and then just the ass-grab sections for your reading pleasure:
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Factoring in the breeze whistling across the open fields, it was well below freezing when, grudgingly, the Jets took the practice field Wednesday. For Brett Favre, it was another day in wind-chilled paradise, just another summer day back at Lambeau Field.
Gerber comes charging out beneath the cold-grey October sky doing his best Grantland Rice impression. At this point this story could still be about football. It's more likely to be some counterintuitive soft-focus schlock about the similarities between North Jersey and Wisconsin in November, about the way in which the cold weather and the warm response by the fans are mixed in equal measure in both places. But it could still be about football.
While most players moved briskly to the next drill, Favre pantomimed a slow-motion jog that drew laughs. He lined up linebacker Eric Barton for an emphatic butt-slap and, later, caught backup quarterback Kellen Clemens with the same stinging, signature maneuver.
OK. So, we're choosing to stand on the sloped-shoulders of guys like Peter King, who have written the "Favre-is-just-a-big-kid having-fun" story into the ground. It's not an interesting story but it's a safe one and, I guess, if you actually are paid to cover the National Football League then at some point you are obligated to write your own version. I think it's in the Union bylaws. Still, things are starting to get a little weird. Right? I mean the alliterative "stinging, signature maneuver" is farandaway the most worried over phrase in the article thus far. Garber has thought long and hard and deep thoughts about the forceful sting of Brett's large calloused hands. He's no doubt witnessed many acts of childishness from Favre yet has tied his story to this one. Thank you. Um, it's a little strange but whatever, I'm sure he'll get right back to football.
"He is the notorious butt-slapper," Cotchery said. "You have to watch out for him because you may be stretching out or something, and he just comes out of nowhere."
And, we're through the looking ass. Err. Glass. Because, now, Garber is clearly asking questions about the butt-slapping. He's found his angle for the story and this is it.
Mangini himself was victimized last Thursday night on national television. Moments after the Jets had defeated the Patriots, Favre accepted a hug from Mangini, then as Mangini walked away -- whack!
"At that point, it was perfectly fine," Mangini said. "No problem. I didn't even feel it. Shoot, with what I'm working with, I wouldn't feel much."
When a reporter asks a coach or a player a question they are almost always leading them towards the answer that fits the story they've constructed before hand. More often than not, players cooperate. You can only assume that Garber's dream quote from Mangini would have been "Shoot, Brett always tells me that it's more cushion for the pushing."
Favre understands he's on the backside of his career.
Wait for it. Wait for it. And, there is it is. I wonder if Garber understood that by shoehorning "backside" in at this point, as he gets ready to close out his story and shoots for some measure of poignancy, that he has become totally obsessed with butts. Or, do you think that he was worried that readers not might not see where he was going? Maybe he thought that he better get this "backside" thing in there just to be safe. He has decided to tell the tale of one of the game's all-time great players through the prism of ass. Nice. You can say what you want about Favre's penchant for self-aggrandizement and the ridiculous way in which he is publicly fondled by most of mainstream media but you can't really deny what he's done on the field with the Jets lately and the very real way in which this team does seem to be rallying around him. You can't deny those things. At least, not this week. And, Mr. Garber set out to write exactly about those things, about the GREAT Brett Favre and this is how he thought best to chronicle it? By goosing Cotchery into calling him "the notorious butt-slapper." I'm sure Garber's instructors at whatever J-School he went to are totally impressed.
Despite the gee-whiz attitude, the grab-ass antics, Favre feels his age every day.
Behold the awful march of Time: not even "grab-ass antics" can keep Peter Pan young and forever in touch with the muscled buttocks of men half his age.