Week 4 preview: Favre facing down haters
The only people in the world as bummed out as Niners coach Mike Singletary by Brett Favre's heroics last Sunday were all those haters who had denounced and derided the Ol' Gunslinger's allegedly schism-inducing decision to play for the Vikings this season. (Particularly those haters who thought it would be a good idea to dedicate a paragraph in their football column every week to belittling Favre as he faded into the sunset.)
The crow was merely being prepped and marinated as Favre posted modest numbers in workmanlike victories over the wretched Browns and Lions in Weeks 1 and 2. But it was positively shoved down our throats as Favre threw for 301 yards, including the 32-yard Play of the Year nominee TD pass at the horn against a snot-knocking Niners defense.
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The Favre antipathy — mine anyway — accumulated on three fronts: the Hamlet, to-be-a-Viking-or-not-to-be-a-Viking hemming and hawing; the Unitas-as-Charger, Namath-as-Ram remembrances of bad decisions past; and, quite frankly, a hyper-saturation of breathless canonization from John Madden every time Favre scrambled and completed a four-yard dump-off.
Whatever the fits and stops and false-starts of the courtship, Vikings fans couldn't have been more thrilled with the budding romance last Sunday. Though many prognosticators had predicted Favre would lift the Vikes to legit title contenders, fans in Minny, scarred by an 0-4 Super Bowl record and Gary Andersen's missed field goal in the '98 NFC title game, have developed a we'll-believe-it-when-we-see-it circumspection. Against the Niners, they saw it.
It was easy to assume Favre's decline phase, which began with that wobbly duck to lose the 2007 NFC title game and continued through his NFL-high 22 interceptions in '08, would accelerate this season. But this season has hardly started as a Johnny U. or Broadway Joe swan song.
Favre has already won as many games (3) as Unitas and Namath won combined in their ill-fated farewells. Where once it seemed certain that the image of Favre in purple would be a wince-inducing reminder of a stained legacy, the early returns now suggest absolute vindication.
On Sunday I watched Favre deliver that dagger to the heart of San Francisco with about 20 people. In that exhilarating moment — the first monster WOW of the young season — we all began gushing like John Madden.
Brett Favre is winning and — though I'm sure he doesn't care — winning over the cynics.
But don't worry, there's a new group of haters on the horizon. Those Packers fans who still wear No. 4 jerseys may find it a little tougher to still love him once he starts beating their team.
And that begins on Monday night.
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