The allegation first landed in my court two years ago. A close friend, worn out by the media’s annual Favre-apalooza, complained that a black athlete could never get away with Favre’s attention-whoring and still be loved by the media.
The complaint read: Brett Favre is no different from Terrell Owens.
In my role as Judge Jason, the czar of all things racial, I refused to hear the case. Oh, I had my occasional problems with the Old Gunslinger. I was one of the first to dub the QB Brittney Favre.
But the felonious charge of a racial double standard as it relates to the future Hall of Famer was unworthy of my court. I dismissed the case.
That was my mindset two years ago. Things have changed. What once was a trickle of complaints has now turned into a downpour. In the absence of a definitive ruling from this court, the racial-double standard charges against Favre are gaining traction.
Here’s an e-mail I received from Gary Taylor, a Los Angeles reader:
“Would Brett be getting this kind of love if he was a black QB? Hell no!. The media would have called him everything, including the so-called N-word. Your thoughts, JW? I hope he loses every game he plays in. How disrespectful can Minnesota be to the other two QBs on the team.”
The same day I received Gary’s e-mail, my best friend from high school, Willie, sent me this text:
“I hate to say this, but if Favre was black, would he be a bad teammate?”
Based on my e-mail box and conversations with friends across black barbershops throughout this country, it is necessary for me to don the black robe and the white wig, grab the gavel and make a ruling on Brett Favre.
There is no racial double standard.
Brett Favre is receiving the exact same treatment as Charles Barkley.
The media are easy to please. You stay out of jail, provide us things to write and talk about, win a few important games, come off as relatively genuine and don’t threaten Babe Ruth’s (and Hank Aaron’s) legacy and we’ll love you.
It’s that simple. Brett Favre is football’s Charles Barkley. America loves good-old boys from the South. They talk funny. They lean on common sense over book sense.
You might think their actions or opinions are stupid, but you respect that whatever they do or say is coming from an honest place.
Barkley threw a guy through a window, accidently spit on a child seated at an NBA game and got arrested for driving under the influence while trying to receive oral stimulus. Barkley drinks and gambles too much. Had he shed a few pounds, he would’ve been a better basketball player. About once a year, he says something really controversial and borderline stupid.
We still love him. He’s the NBA’s No. 1 ambassador, the best jock-turned-broadcaster in the history of television. He might one day be the governor of Alabama.
He’s a good-old boy. He makes the sports world a better, livelier place.
Brett Favre is no different. He’s flawed. He had his problem with painkillers. He pissed me off when he injected himself into Javon Walker’s 2005 contract dispute. Favre is spoiled and wants things his way. And maybe he inappropriately flirted with a hot, 20-something Jets employee when he played in New York.
None of it matters.
In a world of phonies — and despite his serial flirtations with retirement — Favre is real. That’s why his teammates love him. I’ll never forget his “Monday Night Football” performance the night after his father died. Many in the media mischaracterized what happened that night. Most gushed about Favre’s 399-yard, four-TD effort.
To me, Favre was off his game that night. The heroic performances were turned in by his teammates. His receivers made a number of circus catches. They loved and respected the guy so much that they elevated their play on a night when Favre was hurting over the loss of his father.
Is Favre the perfect teammate?
Hell no. But he’s not a bad teammate by any stretch. Minnesota’s backup quarterbacks, Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels, haven’t been disrespected. Their play and talent have not earned them anywhere near equal treatment to Favre.
The NFL is a win-now league. Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen, Steve Hutchinson and the Vikings’ other top-flight players could get injured at any time while waiting for Jackson and Rosenfels to develop into mediocre NFL QBs.
Favre said he “owed it” to Minnesota to play another year. Brad Childress and the Vikings management owed it to their players and fans to leave the door open for Favre’s return.
When a black quarterback wins three MVP awards and a Super Bowl, then let’s compare the way the media treats him to the way Favre is treated.