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Don’t Say It Unless You Mean It

Monday, 4 August 2008

I don’t really follow sports. Mostly because I have little interest in what’s happening on the field, court, diamond, what-have-you. And partially because there is a whole subculture thing that doesn’t make much sense to me.

Take team loyalty. For some reason, I had always thought that a person roots for one team over another based on geography. I was born in the Holy City so if I liked baseball, I would be a Reds fan. My sister was born in New Jersey which doesn’t have a ML baseball team. But my Dad is from LA and my Mom is from Brooklyn so she could be a Dodger fan. And so on. Players may come and players may go. But the team…

Of course teams come and go too. Just ask my grandparents.

Many months ago, I noticed a young mom (native Californian) wearing an unfamiliar team jersey. Unfamiliar insofar as it wasn’t any of our local teams. Casually inquiring, I asked “hey, I’m curious about your connection to Wisconsin.” She looked at me blankly so I continued, “you know, your shirt?)

“Oh. I have no connection to Wisconsin. I’m just a huge Green Bay Packers fan. Plus, I LOVE Brett Favre!”

She explained to me that he was “like, the greatest quarterback EVER.”

“What if he gets traded or something,” I countered. I’ve heard of players being traded so I knew that it was a possibility.

“That will NEVER happen. He’s been there since 1992.”

“I see. Doesn’t have make him close to retirement?” I wondered.

“No way. He’s like not even 40”

Which is technically a true, albeit grammatically weak, statement. He’s “like” gonna be 39 in October, making him awfully close to 40.

I had pretty much forgotten about the conversation until today when I heard a news story on Day-to-Day about the possible return of Favre to the Packers…or some other team.

Whoa. Return? Did I miss something?

[Bear with me if you know all the back story. Not EVERYONE follows sports as closely as you do.]

Back in March, Favre held a huge press conference announcing his retirement from professional football. According to his agent, Favre was “not pushed out the door but then nobody encouraged him not to go out that door either. I don’t think he had a lot of encouragement to stay, but nobody told him to leave either.” Meaning?

Anyway, the Packers scheduled the jersey retirement party for September 8 and end of story.

Or so they thought.

A few months later, rumours emerged that Favre had had a change of heart and had sent word to the Packers organization that he wished to return. The Packers were understandably reluctant to welcome Favre back given they had accepted HIS DECISION to retire and was already looking forward to a future that did not include him. Mere days passed when Favre then decided that the desire to play ball was so strong that he requested an unconditional release so that he could play for another team.

Fans are, as fans usually are, divided on the issue. Some want him to stay. And others had already made a certain peace with his retirement and have moved past it. Some feel that Favre has been wronged and that the organization has treated him really shabbily. And if they really valued him, they would allow him to play for as long as he wants and on his terms.

I guess they missed the part of the story where Favre — and NOT the Packers — decided that it was time for retirement. It was his idea and it WAS on his terms. When an individual decides to retire, he (or she) should really mean it and not use it as a tactic. It’s not effective. It’s not constructive. And it’s not honest, either.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Ann permalink
    Monday, 4 August 2008 7:01 pm

    Are you sure it was a “tactic”? Perhaps he truly set about to retire, only to discover he had made a mistake. I follow football and Farve is, by all accounts, one of the most likeable, honest guys in the NFL. He approached the Packers and asked to be reinstated- perhaps trying to rectify his mistake. Your judgemental attitude irks me because sports today is full of idiots with enormous egos and little class- Farve is a class act, it’d be a shame to lose him if he still wants to play. So he made a decision that he regretted and tried to fix it- I think that deserves respect, not derision.

  2. Na'ami permalink
    Monday, 4 August 2008 7:28 pm

    Hmmm… at first glance (and reading), this seemed to be a straight-forward post about sports (and Brett Favre). But at the end, it smacked of an underlying message. Was this about something (and someone) entirely different than Mr. Favre? I must say, you kept it under wraps until the very end. It was the sentence “he (or she)”…. that made me do a double take and wonder if there wasn’t more to your message.

  3. Monday, 4 August 2008 9:01 pm

    i am ROTFL because here in cheese-head-land (that’s wisconsin) where i’m from, it is the absolute-most-important-top-of-the-10pm-news-story and they examine every. single. aspect. of. the. story. even if there’s nothing to cover they say “well, there’s nothing to cover today in this story but we’re talking about it anyway” and they interview random on-the-street people to talk about how they feel and how much they love brett and how wonderful the packers are and….you get the idea. even in chicago, it’s pretty much at the top of the headlines too. but here in wisconsin….oy vey.

    and from you! a post about football! what is the world coming too…

    p.s. i’m with you. stay retired if you’re gonna retire, darn it!

  4. Frume Sarah permalink
    Monday, 4 August 2008 9:06 pm

    Ann — had he wished only to return to the Packers, it might not have caught my attention. It was more the idea that he would go to another team. Plus it is all about timing! To wait this close to the season means that other players — who would be moved into the QB slot — might suddenly not play the position they have been preparing to play. Additionally, the statements made by his agent and other family members seem to imply that he was surprised that the Packers didn’t try to talk him out of retiring.

    Na’ami — there is always an underlying message in FrumeSarah’s World! A person is only as honest as his or her word. And I see this happening all too frequently in sports…in the business world…heck, even in synagogue life. Brett Favre made a decision to step down. He did it graciously. There are always second thoughts…but it just isn’t right to change one’s mind…and then, when the Packers didn’t just take him back, to say that he’d go somewhere else. How are his loyal fans supposed to feel? It just doesn’t seem right when he (and others) do this.

    Ima — I know. I know. Not your typical FS post. This post didn’t end the way I thought it would when I first started writing it…

  5. Monday, 4 August 2008 9:27 pm

    You are only as good as your word, and sometimes it’s all you have left, so certainly use it wisely.

  6. Monday, 4 August 2008 9:51 pm

    I play pickup basketball three to four days each week. I love it and I do mean love it.

    I turned 39 this past May and have been struggling with some of the “silly” things that come with my age. I can’t do everything that I used to do, the body just doesn’t work for me the same way.

    Each year my skills diminish a bit and I am less of a player than I used to be. If you asked me to say goodbye I would miss it terribly.

    Oh, I might initially say ok, especially if my body felt beat up. But after a little rest I’d start to feel that itch to play again.

    I suspect that Favre just might feel similarly. His window of opportunity is closing. Soon he won’t have any choice in the matter and he’ll have to just accept retirement.

    It is a hard decision.

  7. Ann permalink
    Tuesday, 5 August 2008 3:21 am

    This had been going on for months-it’s not news that he thought he might have made a mistake- I think you can go back to May or June and find stories about that. If the Packers don’t want him, why not go somewhere else? He gave them first choice, which was the right thing to do. I am all for people keeping their word, but c’mon- I think there’s a difference between an honest mistake and being untrustworthy, especially here- it’s football, not a marriage.

  8. Steve permalink
    Tuesday, 5 August 2008 5:17 pm

    I have to take a little step back here – I really don’t see the issue, I think you’re way off base. Sure, he retired – and he changed his mind. He has every right to do so, just as the Packers have every right to not take him back onto their roster (or, to take him back and then not play him) – as it is, professional football players have a very limited shelf life, and the NFL and these teams earn an obscene amount of money from these players.
    Furthermore, the players really put themselves in harm’s way. These guys aren’t sitting on a bima chanting Torah (not that there’s anything wrong with that) they are taking severe hits from MANY 300+ pound guys – all at once.

    Farve, or any other NFL player, has the right – no the responsibility- to dictate where they play and when they play, and to do so at the highest pay scale. Let’s not get into the dangerous folds of business and personal ethics here – there is a bottom line. The Packers surely dont write to Miss Manners when issues like this come forward. Going to another team? You betcha – whichever team will take the best care of Farve financially and personally.

    Why shouldn’t he? What does he owe the Packers? They were his employers, and obviously he no longer felt welcome there, either personally or financially. I actually think it is unethical for the Packers to make him feel as if he should leave, and then cry foul when he goes elsewhere. Everything I have read has led me to believe that the Packers wanted him out in the first place, in favor of younger, stronger players who would work for less dough.

    The fans? A fan of Farve, though dissapointed to see him leave, will be thrilled to see him play for another team – they may not root for that team, but if they really TRULY are a fan of Brett, they will be glad for him.

  9. Tuesday, 5 August 2008 9:26 pm

    The question is, wherever Favre ends up next, how gracious will his behavior be? If the Packers choose to not accept his “Take-back” of his resignation, will he suck it up like a grown-up, or will he groan about how maligned and mistreated he is to the press and his fans?

  10. Wednesday, 6 August 2008 8:00 am

    wow, FS, this was one of your most debated posts! Hmm….maybe you should write about sports more often!:-)

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