Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Since as far back as I can remember, I’ve been a sports fan. A diehard one.
I remember being 3 years old and being sad when Hulk Hogan lost the title to The Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania VI. I remember my first Giants game, against the Dodgers, sitting in the upper deck at Candlestick on someone’s lap (my Dad’s I think).
Then I got older and sports consumed me. Or I consumed sports. Either way, it was everything I did in my free time. I’d read the Chronicle’s Sporting Green at breakfast in the 1st grade, I was a 49er for Halloween one year and I kept the costume, helmet and all, and would throw the football around in my living room with the little white table that seperated the pizza from the box as a kicking tee and the tops from the Sqeez-It bottle as a mouthpiece.
When the Giants won the pennant in 2002 I did a victory lap around my house. When they lost the World Series in Game 7 a few weeks later, I cried.
And like most sports fans I had one arch-enemmy. The ulimate villain, the man that would reach into my chest and rip out my beating heart with his bare hands. And then hit me in the nuts with a sledgehammer.
Brett f*****’ Favre.
In “The Usual Suspects” Verbal has a line where he says that he’s not scared of God, but he’s afraid of Keyser Soze. Brett Favre was my Keyser Soze. A real-life, Southern, rocket-armed, Boogeyman.
Remember when you were a kid and you would get in trouble, either at school or with your Grandma or something, and your parents hadn’t found out yet but you knew when they did you were gonna get it? That’s what it felt like everytime the 49ers played the Packers. Except for 3 hours.
I remember my first encounter with Favre. It was the ’95 playoffs. The 49ers looked like they were gonna repeat as Super Bowl champs and the Cowboys were looming for a 4th straight time in the NFC Championship Game. All we had to do was beat the underdog Packers at home. Easy, right? We lost. That next year we played the Packers on Monday Night in Lambeau. The Packers won in OT. In the playoffs we had to play them, again in Lambeau. It was raining and muddy, we got blown out. The Packers went on to win the Super Bowl. In 1997 the 49ers had home-field throughout the playoffs and we faced the Packers in the NFC title game, the Packers blew us out and went to the Super Bowl.
In ’98 the Niners made the playoffs again, this time as a wild-card team. We were at home, against guess who? The damn Packers. It was a back and forth game. We had the lead late and Favre threw a TD pass that gave them a lead with little time left. But Steve Young somehow led us down the field and threw a TD pass with 3 seconds left to Terrell Owens. (Sidebar: Steve Young was great during the regular season, but there’s no way he’s one of the best QB’s of all-time. Any 49er fan that thinks so is a “homer.” Young was the consummate underachiever, how do you have a team that good and only win 1 Super Bowl? Young could pour it on when we were ahead, but very rarely did he ever lead us back from a deficit to victory. In big games he always underperformed, he just couldn’t win the big one. Favre owned Young. Favre was the hammer and Young was the nail, ‘nuff said. Back to the post.) We had finally slayed the dragon, I thought. Then my heart nearly stopped when the Packers took the kickoff to the 50 and almost broke it for the game-winning TD that would have led me to swan dive off the roof of my house. It was over. I had exorcised the Favre demon.
But just like herpes, that God-forsaken #4 came back.
In 2001 after two crappy seasons, the 49ers were back in the playoffs but we had to play the Packers again in Green Bay. We lost. Again. The Boogeyman had returned. 4 times, 4 $@#%@#%$@#^@# times the 49ers lost to Favre’s Packers in the playoffs. That man ruined my childhood.
I could care less about Favre towards the twilight of his career because the Packers and 49ers weren’t very good and there was no chance for him to scar me emotionally anymore. Then came the retirements and comebacks. Who did Favre think he was, Jay-Z? It’s one thing to drop the mic and then pick it up again, it’s another thing to stand in the pocket against an oncoming rush of 300-pound linemen. Favre proved with his comeback that he was who I thought he was the whole time, a giant douche. Who strings along 3 franchises, the Packers, then the Jets, and now the Vikings with the “Will he or won’t he?” routine? Especially when you’re in your late-30s, and at the end of your career. In the ultimate team game, Favre was making himself out to be holier than thou and he really wasn’t. He was in the news more than the President. People were tireed of hearing about him, and odds are that he never knocked out their favorite team 4 times in the palyoffs. Sure Favre won a Super Bowl, but he also lost one when his Packers were the clear-cut favorite against the Broncos. Favre’s the all-time leader in TD passes, but he’s also the all-time leader in interceptions. The media calls Favre a “gunslinger,” but that also implies that he was reckless and cost his teams games with bad decisions, bad passes, and interceptions. He just always happened to beat the 49ers.
Favre finally retired, and I couldn’t be happier. I hope that it’s for good. I hated everything about Brett Favre. His stupid cowlick, the idiotic way his last name is pronounced, how does F-A-V-R-E sound like "farv," his dumb Southern drawl, the way he wore his hand-warmers like a fanny-pack, the Lambeau Leap, how he would celebrtate his TD passes by just sprinting with his right index finger in the air or by picking up his teammates over his shoulder. My favorite part of “There’s Something About Mary” wasn’t when Ben Stiller got his genitalia caught in his zipper, or when Cameron Diaz put the “gel” in her hair, it was when Mary left Favre for Ben Stiller at the end. (Sidebar: The Farrelly Brothers are actually HUGE 49er fans and wanted to get Steve Young to play that role, but Young, who’s a Mormon, declined because of the adult content of the movie. Even in cinema, Favre beats Young. And while we’re on a tangent, “There’s Something About Mary” is STILL an unbelievably funny movie. That movie launched Ben Stiller’s career, Cameron Diaz nails the role as the girl-next-door/tomboy hottie, Matt Dillon’s mustache is classic, and it taught guys everywhere to be careful when they zip up their pants after they pee. The Farrelly Bros. will never top “Dumb & Dumber,” but “There’s Something About Mary” comes close.)
Over time kids grow up and realize there’s no monster under their bed or in their closet, my monster was there the whole time. He just finally decided, after tormenting me for years, that it was time to leave my room. Who knew that the Boogeyman wore #4 and was from Mississippi?
Good riddance Brett, I don’t think I’ll ever hate another athlete as much as you, not even The Ultimate Warrior.