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Brett Favre is an example of NFL hero worship gone wrong

For most of his 20 years in the NFL, Brett Favre’s story was tailor-made for a Central America swooning over blue-collar football heroes.

We learned of his formative years in Petit Oven, Mississippi, a city defined by the lumber industry boom, decimated by the Great Depression, then buoyed by decades of underground ingenuity. We’ve heard stories of Favre being raised by a pair of teachers and then his chance discovery as a high school football player while being coached by his father, Irvin Favre. And of course, we heard about football’s hurdles, with Favre lucky enough to receive just one scholarship offer from South Mississippi despite an ill-fitting triangulation offense that rarely featured the massive arm that would eventually deliver him. in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

It would all be part of Favre’s tapestry as he carved out his illustrious two-decade NFL career, which included a Super Bowl victory, three straight league MVPs, countless passing records in retirement, a iron man streak for consecutive starts unlikely. forever broken, and a relentless high tide of “gunslinger” compliments from John Madden and seemingly every other football analyst who ever laid eyes on him.

He was an exciting talent at the center of an iconic Green Bay franchise, the kind of player who captured national media attention and quickly befriended important reporters. All while fitting into the mold of the league’s favorite historical commodity: an easily salable white quarterback in the age of cable TV who would drive the NFL’s popularity into space.

For most of his career, it was a defining part of Brett Favre’s story. Since then, a lot has changed in the world. And with that, perhaps a small part of our take on the type of hero worship that often hides something unsavory behind it.

The disappointing reality for many is simple: as we left Favre’s career behind, it’s been hard to keep up with the character issues surrounding him. And never more so than this week, when widespread news stories about a Mississippi welfare fraud scheme make Favre look incomprehensibly incompetent or terribly dishonest.

The world has changed a lot since Brett Favre retired, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to adhere to the noble, working-class image that has been carved out of him. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

If you haven’t been following the work of Mississippi Today, you should. The general outline of Favre’s alleged involvement relates to millions of dollars in social funds that were improperly diverted to build a volleyball stadium at Favre’s alma mater, Southern Miss (where Favre’s daughter was also a volleyball player). According to the report, Favre denied ever speaking to former Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant about the stadium, denied knowing where the money for the project came from, and generally denied any known wrongdoing.

The problem? Texts have surfaced from Bryant that reference an alleged meeting with Favre over the draft, along with other texts featuring the former NFL quarterback allegedly asking an executive involved in the cheating scheme whether the media would ever be able to determine where the money for the stadium project came from. or how much money was contributed.

At best, it gives the impression that Favre has some important explaining to do. At worst, he looks like a liar who helped embezzle millions of dollars from poorer Mississippians so a volleyball stadium could be built. Somewhere in the middle of it all is a question about rights, politics, and how the rich and influential are manipulating the system to essentially steal taxpayers’ money meant for some of America’s most needy people. .

So which one is it? We need to know, because Favre’s good reputation in Mississippi is at stake, which has (until recently) always cast him as the small-town kid who made it big and never forgot. its roots. The guy who still keeps his home in America’s poorest state and has statues outside his high school stadium and inside the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. The classic story of an athlete who reached the greatest heights, then returned home and invested in many people he couldn’t take with him.

Looking back now, it would be great to know how true that actually was. But there’s also another troubling part of it all – the reality that Favre has seemed to skate on a number of questionable issues over the years, while keeping his iconic stature largely intact in the NFL.

Let’s not forget that in the final weeks of his career, the NFL said Favre did not fully cooperate with a league investigation into whether he sent the former New York Jets employee. Jenn Sterger several unsolicited photos of his penis while they were both with the team in 2008. The NFL fined Favre $50,000 following this investigation in 2010. Sterger has certainly not forgottencommenting The latest issues of Favre Tuesday with a series of tweets, including: “Oh.. NOW he’s in trouble for inappropriate texts.”

Then there was the 2013 civil settlement over a lawsuit filed by two massage therapists in response to allegedly sexually suggestive text messages Favre sent while he was with the Jets in 2008. Or the questionable business dealings, the one involving litigation over bankrupt digital sports media company Sqor (which was eventually evicted, but not before Favre was named as one of the defendants in an investor fraud lawsuit); and in another case, a US Department of Justice investigation into Rx Pro, a brand that Favre heavily endorsed and later came under scrutiny for claims made about pain creams that had no not been approved by the FDA.

Of course, there is more beyond the legal realm. You’ve had Favre making all kinds of frowning claims, like suffering ‘thousands’ of concussions in his playing career, telling Peyton Manning he didn’t know what a nickel defense was in the NFL until he asked Ty Detmer, to reveal to Peter King that he went to rehab three times in his career for substance abuse issues.

At best, Brett Favre's alleged involvement in embezzling social funds so a volleyball stadium could be built means he has some important explaining to do.  At worst, he looks like a liar who helped extract money from poorer Mississippians.  (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

At best, Brett Favre’s alleged involvement in embezzling social funds so a volleyball stadium could be built means he has some important explaining to do. At worst, he looks like a liar who helped extract money from poorer Mississippians. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

From a football perspective, it’s been interesting to see how the public has absorbed these “revelations” and natural to wonder how it would play out if someone like, say, Russell Wilson or a comparable black quarterback ever said the same thing. Regardless of other football-related oddities that swirled around Favre, like his repeated retirements or offseasons, he left the Packers wondering whether or not they would get a quarterback the following season. Or the time he gifted his friend Michael Strahan with an NFL single-season sack record that fundamentally undermined the legitimacy of what had been a coveted achievement. Or one of the forgotten hits, when Jay Glazer reported that Favre gave Detroit Lions general manager Matt Millen information about the Packers during Favre’s season with the Jets. Favre denied, of course.

These are just a few examples of the static that has seemed to follow Favre over the years. None of this feels clean or resembling an unblemished reputation or character. Time will tell whether or not the Mississippi fraud investigation has more layers, or whether the texts that have been revealed ultimately shape Favre’s historical perspective as a person.

For now, judgments are left to the viewer. But it’s worth noting that at least one person who spent a lot of time unraveling Favre seems to have come away with a concrete, unambiguous opinion. That would be Jeff Pearlman, a respected author who has written several New York Times bestsellers and who in 2016 wrote what is considered the most important biography on Favre: “Gunslinger: The Remarkable, Improbable, Iconic Life of Brett Favreau”.

It turns out Pearlman has some thoughts after the text messages linking Favre to the Mississippi welfare fraud investigation were released.

As he said on Tuesday of his Twitter account: “On the day of the extended Favre revelations, I want to share something: I wrote a biography of the man which was widely praised. Football heroism, overcoming odds, practical prankster etc. Yes, that included his rudeness , his addictions, his treatment of women. But it was pretty positive. And, looking at him now, if I’m being brutally honest, I’d advise people not to read him. He’s a villain. He doesn’t deserve the icon treatment. It does not deserve acclaim. Image rehabilitation. Warm stories of grid glory. Its treatment of [Jenn Sterger] was… inexcusable.

It’s not exactly a bespoke synopsis for Central America’s love affair with a soccer player. But it might also be the most truthful conclusion to this edition of hero worship gone wrong.



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