Attention sports broadcasters: This is Drew Brees, the other quarterback in last night's NFC Championship Game
Yesterday, I was able to watch both the AFC and NFC championships in their entirety, thanks to a great significant other who took care of all food preparation after 3:00 yesterday and made sure that all our errands were run before the opening kickoff of the Colts – Jets game. Because one game basically followed the other and there was nothing to interrupt my viewing, I witnessed firsthand the difference between pretty solid sports analysis and grace under pressure–CBS Sports and the quarterbacking of Peyton Manning, Mark Sanchez and Drew Brees–and fawning parasitic babbling and and manipulative melodrama–the pre-game predictions, halftime analysis and color commentary of Fox Sports and the quarterbacking of Brett Favre.
Until yesterday, I thought Brett Favre’s neediness and attention-mongering were confined to contract negotiations but that he left all that behind when he was on the field. And I thought that the High Priests of the Brett Favre Holy Shrine were only on ESPN. As I am about so many things, I was completely wrong.
I really hadn’t watched the Vikings much this season (or Jets or the Green Bay Packers in the past), and I’ve never really paid close attention to Favre as a player other than to note in passing to my brother about 5 or 6 years ago that it looked like he was doing good things for Green Bay. In fact, my mind shuts down when I hear or see his name, and I never read any articles about him. So, yesterday was the first time I got to see him in all his diva-like glory and I was disgusted. He and his team made key mistakes and he himself threw two interceptions, but thanks to his uncanny ability to manipulate the press, he managed to prevent criticism of his play last night.
After the first interception, his behavior turned the corner from mildly annoying to unbearably horrible when he started rolling around the field in agony, pointing at his knee. People from the Vikings organization immediately rushed out to the field and helped Favre while he limped to the sideline as if someone had shot him in the knee, somehow managing to portray both extreme agony and stiff-upper-lip bravery at the same time.
The game clock remained frozen while several sports medicine types fussed over him like grandmothers as he had his ankle (yes, that’s his ankle, not his knee) taped and re-taped. Finally, it was decided that he would live and play resumed. Interestingly, Mr. “Will I Ever Walk Again?” somehow managed to get back on the field when Vikings regained possession of the ball and played the rest of the game.
Honestly, it was more sickening than a Greg Paulus flop or a “I just kicked the goalie in his privates and now I’m going to pretend he injured me for life so I don’t get a penalty” performance from any number of soccer/futbol players from around the world. It was also extremely manipulative because natural concern for someone who appeared to be seriously injured was milked to hide the fact that the Best Quarterback in America had thrown an interception.
The other quarterbacks that played yesterday were also under pressure. For example, Peyton Manning’s team was down to the Jets going into the second half. Did Manning have a bunch of hissy fits and try to be the “star” by throwing passes wildly? Nope. He had taken in the Jets’s defensive moves and worked with the coaches during half time to make adjustments that would throw the Jets off. As Sanchez watched the game slip away, did he writhe in melodramatic fashion near the line os crimmage? No. He kept trying to work with his team to win. The Vikings defense wasn’t exactly kind to Drew Brees, but he doggedly ground out plays to keep them in the game.
What made it 10 times worse for me as a viewer is how Fox Sports covered Favre in all his vainglory. For example, instead of focusing on Vilma, the guy
Too bad I didn't think to turn the sound down on these guys
who intercepted Favre the first time, and hastily putting up his stats and any information about earlier interceptions in the season, Fox trained all its cameras on Favre’s antics on the sidelines. They even dragged out a camera shot of Favre’s wife’s reaction when he was hit, which included putting her hand over her mouth in concern (as if no other wife in the history of football suffered when her husband was hurt).
If this had been Fox’s only transgression, I would have forgiven them for playing into the hands of a master manipulator. However, this was only part of what I can only describe as obsessive Favre coverage. They counted every time he was hit (as if no one ever tackled a quarterback before) and constantly reminded everyone of the “pounding” he was taking throughout the game.
The pre-game show featured Fox “analysts” (I can’t remember which ones offhand, sorry) insisting that the Vikings would win because they were the best team in the NFL and they repeated that again during the half time show. (I find it fascinating that the best team in the NFL didn’t have the best record.) Also during half time, all kinds of criticisms of Payton’s coaching of the Saints were offered up and it was at this time that they made a huge deal out of the hits on Favre and insinuated that New Orleans wouldn’t be able to keep him down and they were unlikely to win.
After suffering through this commentary and endless, sycophantic Favre coverage, I had the brilliant idea to turn the sound down on the game at the beginning of the fourth quarter and watched it with a lot less rancor, especially once my significant other suggested that I stop counting the camera shots of Favre both on and off the field. When the Saints won in overtime, I even managed to forget my ire in my happiness for one of the biggest underdogs in NFL history. However, that joy was shortlived.
This morning I realized that the sick, symbiotic relationship that I thought existed only between Favre and ESPN/Fox probably extends to all sports media, because even NPR’s coverage of the game was devoted to what Favre thought about the game (“It was more physical than people realized, wah, wah”) and whether or not he would play next year.
Look out for the bus, Adrian!!!!!
Then, I went online and saw that espn.com is throwing Peterson under the bus for the loss because of his fumbles, when they’re not blaming the Vikings for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory or using their thesauruses to come up with new ways to describe the ills Brett imagines he suffered at the hands of the Saints defense. And I can’t help but wonder, did these people even watch the game? Because, you see, there was another team that played in the game. That team is called the Saints and they had an offense that scored more points than the Vikings and a defense that helped force the turnovers, including two that were made by someone other than Peterson, one of which probably cost them the game. And that team is actually the team that’s in the Super Bowl. I don’t want to hear endless speculation about Favre’s future and whining about how the Vikings should be in the Super Bowl. I want to enjoy the moment for both the Saints and the Colts. And somehow I don’t think I’m alone.