by Troy A. Sparks
GREEN BAY – Never has one person affected the NFL in the way that Brett Favre has. The NFL’s “second” commissioner is the topic of discussion 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
I call him the second commissioner because he is the only player who can cry on TV while announcing his retirement, change his mind and want to challenge Aaron Rodgers for the quarterback job, which general manager Ted Thompson refused to allow.
Favre got the itch to play again when he didn’t file his retirement papers with the NFL. I thought that once you retired from your job, there was no coming back.
We know the story well. After Favre left the New York Jets, he didn’t know if he wanted to play again. That is, until he wanted to play for Minnesota. The Vikings were so desperate to have Favre on the team that they went down to Mississippi to pick him up last year. And it took an eleventh hour effort to drag Favre back up north this year, for his last – at least that what he says for now – season.
I know that Favre and the Vikings wanted to focus on the game against Green Bay at Lambeau Field, Oct. 24, but how could he when he’s facing allegations from a woman of sending photos from his cell phone while he was with the Jets in 2008 when she worked for the team?
Favre admitted leaving voicemails on Jenn Sterger’s phone but not pictures from his phone. Yeah, right! She hasn’t come forward to give her side of the story yet. By the way, no one dared asked Favre questions about the incident in his postgame press conference.
Commissioner Roger Goodell sent NFL security to Vikings’ headquarters recently to talk to the three-time MVP. It was much to do about nothing. As the old saying goes, “no harm, no foul.” I think that Favre has the commissioner in his back pocket.
As you would expect, most of the fans booed Favre when he came out on the field at 6:40 p.m. for the 7:20 p.m. nationally televised game by NBC. The future Hall Of Famer also has Randy Moss on his side.
Favre lobbied for Moss to come to Green Bay when Moss was a free agent. They’re finally together. However, it was about whether Favre would dominate the Packers again like he did twice in 2009, or if Aaron Rodgers would finally get the upper hand.
The Packers struck first with running back Brandon Jackson’s plunge into the end zone. Then Minnesota’s Percy Harvin ran through the middle to the end zone untouched to tie the score.
Green Bay scored again with rookie tight end Andrew Quarless’ catch in the end zone. A 14-7 game at that point in the second quarter was headed toward a shootout between Favre, who once ran the Packers’ offense, and Rodgers, who held the clipboard as Favre’s rookie understudy.
Harvin stretched the ball across the pylon for what appeared to be his second touchdown. That was subject to a review after Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy threw the red flag. The officials were looking to see if Harvin’s right foot was out of bounds before he crossed the plane. It was. The ball was at the Green Bay 1-yard line. Adrian Peterson’s TD tied the game at 14. I guess that was the kind of game the fans and the league wanted to see – more scoring.
The scoring in the second half continued. Two of Favre’s three interceptions led to an offensive touchdown by Green Bay receiver Greg Jennings and a runback to the end zone on defense by Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop. That turned a 17-14 deficit into a 28-17 lead.
Favre quickly made up for his mistake with a TD pass to Moss that cut the Packer lead to 28-24. We definitely had a shootout at the OK corral. Favre and Minnesota ran out of miracles in the end and lost by four points.
The Vikings had a legitimate argument on a score that should’ve counted. A touchdown was taken away on a reverse challenge after it was ruled that tight end Visanthe Shaiancoe dropped the ball on the ground as he tried to trap it in the end zone.
“I personally believe I had possession,” Shiancoe said. “I talked to the referee, and he told me that if it was further up in my hands, it would have been a touchdown.”
Minnesota coach Brad Childress was also disappointed. “I must not understand a catch in the end zone for them to take Shiancoe’s off the board,” he said.
“That’s not the way it’s taught. That’s not the way we’re told. That goes back to the Tampa Bay game that (former Buccaneer coach) Tony (Dungy) coached years ago. You control the ball, and it doesn’t make any difference if you control it in your hand or forearm, period. That’s wrong, that’s wrong.”
Favre said he took the loss against the Packers very hard. “I take a lot of pride and ownership in all phases of the game,” he said. “You have the ball in your hand and you hope to win these. You just feel like you let everybody down.”
About the only thing that hurts Favre besides his desire to stick it to Thompson and the Packers again was his left ankle, which happened on the first interception to A.J. Hawk in the third quarter.
Favre might not be 100% for the game against New England this weekend, but Green Bay fans don’t care if he plays or not. This moment belonged to Packer Nation.
“It means we’re 2-1 in the division (4-3 overall),” McCarthy said. “This is going to come down to the division games, in my opinion.”
Said Rodgers: “It’s a big win for us. I think with the way we were playing the last three games, it was important to come out here and have a better performance. Other than my careless turnovers (two interceptions), I think we moved the ball effectively.”