Brett Favre doesn’t care about you, Packer fans.

But then, Brett Favre doesn’t care about health care, the rain forests, the swine flu, whether Caster Semenya is a man or a woman, Yankees/Red Sox or even John Madden.

Brett Favre doesn’t even care about the Minnesota Vikings.

Brett Favre cares about one thing. I’ll give you a hint — it has a torn rotator cuff, perpetual stubble and an ego bigger than Wisconsin. 

Favre (see, it really is possible to refer to him without his first name) is wearing purple these days, which is what he’s wanted ever since being unceremoniously dumped by the Green Bay Packers after the 2007 season. He got his wish, and now we’re all supposed to salute his stubbornness.

His feelings were hurt, understandably, by the Pack, and he has made it his mission to stick it to Packer general manager Ted Thompson ever since.

But carrying a grudge is one thing. Asking two other franchises and a nation of football fans to carry it with you is something else.

In sports, athletes play with a chip on their shoulder all the time, and it often drives them to greatness. Tom Brady has one for getting drafted in the sixth round. Michael Jordan carried one for getting cut from his high school basketball team. The 1980 USA hockey team hated coach Herb Brooks’ guts on their way to gold.

Grudges can easily go bad, though. Roger Clemens carried one from what Dan Duqette called the twilight of his career and ended up in steroid purgatory with Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire. 

On the surface, Favre’s grudge is about as justified as a grudge gets. He played 16 years for the Packers, played through pain and never missed a game. He led them to two Super Bowls and brought them back to national prominence. 

But Favre also got a lot out of the relationship. The Packers allowed him to develop his riverboat gambler image and rarely protested, even when it translated to poor decisions. When he got lazy and out of shape and stopped paying attention in meetings, they looked the other way. When he got hooked on painkillers, they supported him and protected his image. When Mike Holmgren left and he got bigger than the team, they let him run the show. When he cost them big game after big game with interception after interception, they kept giving him the ball (Cold Hard Football Facts, the best football web site around, has a jaw-dropping analysis of just how many games Favre lost for the Packers in the last decade). 

Finally, Green Bay decided it was time to move on. Because Favre had just led them to the NFC championship game (and, oh by the way, lost it), the timing of their decision can be debated until the cows come home, but the bottom line was the Packers had enough.

Favre, unwilling to accept the late-career reality that has befallen many a Hall-of-Fame quarterback before him, couldn’t just be bitter and move on. He had to drag us all along on a two-year revenge tour, forcing us to sit through countless “will he or won’t he” reports as he spun in and out of retirement like a boxer with amnesia. 

In Act I, he settled on the New York Jets. He always looked like he’d rather be in Mississippi shooting a jeans commercial. There were reports of him acting like a diva and isolating himself from the rest of the team. He personally handed the Miami Dolphins the AFC East last year and got Eric Mangini fired from the Jets (okay, a rare positive, if you’re a Jets fan).

He retired again in February. In the spring and summer, he flirted with the Vikings, underwent shoulder surgery, flirted with them again, announced he was staying retired, then signed with the Vikings after conveniently missing the first two weeks of training camp.

As if that move didn’t serve as a raised middle finger to his loyal Cheesehead following, Favre almost immediately declared “If you’re a true Packer fan, you understand.” If there is one quote that sums up Brett Favre, that was it — the ultimate self-centered statement from the ultimate self-centered athlete of our time. 

Now, let’s face it, he’s replacing Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson. It’s not like the Vikings were grooming a No. 1 draft pick to play quarterback. On paper, this move looks like an upgrade for Minnesota and appears to give them better odds of winning the NFC, which is the equivalent of winning the Grey Cup.

But countless signings have looked good on paper and backfired. John Smoltz to the Red Sox. Randy Johnson to the Yankees. Uh, Brett Favre to the Jets.

The Vikings are doomed to repeat history, especially if they defer to Favre and get away from what they do best, running the football, and certainly if Favre’s already tenuous rotator cuff becomes more frayed over the course of the season.  If you’ve been waiting for a quarterback who combines Drew Bledsoe’s mechanics with Chad Pennington’s arm, you may be in luck this year.

Unfortunately, any pleasure we can derive from watching him implode again this year will be offset by countless hours of fawning from the national media, particularly from a certain four-letter network. 

Favre could do everyone a favor, including himself, if he just put the ball down and went home, for good.


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