Oh, the burning questions about Brett Favre.
Can his fractured ankle hold up? Will it give his arm enough leverage to riddle the Patriots’ suspect secondary? Are the Patriots able to generate enough of a pass rush to knock him on his butt?
And the best one of all: Isn’t it nice to be talking about other parts of that ol’ boy’s anatomy this week?
Seriously, Ben Roethlisberger couldn’t have done a better job of self-inflicted damage control if he drove headlong into another motorcycle accident.
One vintage Sunday night of self-abuse, throws that looked like they were made blindfolded and a near-miracle comeback at Lambeau Field somehow restored Favre’s Q rating.
Suddenly the only voice mail messages that matter right now are the ones delivered from Vikings trainers to coach Brad Childress.
It’s no longer did he/didn’t he/how could he? It’s will he or won’t he? As in take the first snap from center shortly after 4:15 p.m. at Gillette Stadium.
That would be consecutive start No. 292, a streak so absurd I can’t believe any sane person with a five-minute background in sports would even try comparing it to anything else.
Let’s be clear: I am not one of the million-and-one Favre sycophants disguised as the working media.
Wasn’t a fan before or after his alleged pursuit of Jenn Sterger. Wouldn’t even consider him if I were forced to draft one quarterback for one game to save the human race. Can’t stand the megalomania. Don’t find the gunslinger style endearing.
But seriously, if you mention Favre’s streak in the same breath with Cal Ripken’s run of consecutive baseball games. I worry. And if you even hesitate for a nanosecond to acknowledge that the quarterback’s streak is more impressive, I demand a drug test.
There is no comparison in any NFL era, but especially this one.
Think about it. What was the previous football story with enough juice to knock Favre’s unlimited text plan below the fold? Commissioner Roger Goodell’s prohibition of defensive players launching, leading with their heads or otherwise creating a greater G-spike than a head-on car collision.
We’re in a climate where no wide receiver can run a slant without smelling salts. Every team needs three front-line running backs because giving anyone more than 25 carries is considered a violation of human rights.
An average player’s shelf life is three or four years. The best ones survive six or seven before they transition into “situational” guys.
Favre, in utter defiance of trends, logic and good sense, hasn’t missed a start since September 1992.
Most current high school football players were unborn.
Bush was president. The other one.
Hugh Millen and Scott Zolak were the starting quarterbacks and Dick MacPherson the coach for the Patriots, who were laughably godawful.
Nobody in sports is more of a sitting duck than an NFL quarterback, and that includes a moose in Kokadjo in September.
Consider how many starters are sidelined with a concussion, separated shoulder, sprained thumb or bum knee on the standard Sunday. Four. maybe five.
It’s impossible to set the odds of a guy toiling in those cross hairs, avoiding a lost-time injury and having the best statistical season of his career at age 40, as Favre did last year.
Mathematicians would quit at a quintillion-to-one.
Look, we all love Ripken. He’s in the mix with apple pie and mama as American institutions. His 2,632 days of perfect attendance on the left side of the Baltimore Orioles’ infield without leaving early for a dentist appointment are something we’ll never see again.
In terms of the sheer physical demands of their respective streaks, however, Ripken isn’t in the same solar system as Favre.
Whether you view him as a flip-flopper or a two-timer, Favre has made it difficult to give him honor without giving yourself heartburn.
Hate to say it, but he’s earned that respect. For that one accomplishment. At this one moment.
Perhaps there is no higher compliment than this: If you’re a Patriots fan, this week’s discussion was captivating because you are rightfully convinced that a lead-footed, broken Favre is more dangerous than a hale-and-hearty Tarvaris Jackson.
Again, there is no comparison. Again, there is no question.
You may not love him. You might not like him. You possibly don’t even respect him. But damn straight, you fear him.
When somebody has frightened every defense, every opposing spectator, every game for 19 uninterrupted autumns, every syllable that’s said about him is justified.
Either No. 4 will carry the Vikings on his weary shoulders this afternoon, or he’ll carry a clipboard.
Either way, it’ll be a historic Halloween in Foxborough.
Kalle Oakes is a staff columnist. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.