By: Matt Kroeger
This past weekend, I spent a couple days at home in Indianapolis for fall break. I excitedly watched some Pacers preseason basketball (PLAYOFFS BABY!!!), played Wii despite having a significant amount of homework, and ate more food in four days than I have all semester. It was a very enjoyable and relaxing break. At dinner one night, my parents and I got to talking about Brett Favre and the recent news regarding the famed QB. Favre was allegedly caught sending inappropriate texts, voicemails and photos of himself to Jets sideline reporter, Jenn Sterger, while he was with the Jets. Granted, I think any red-blooded male would be unconsciously drawn to do the same (like brain-craving zombies), but the man is married. His wife is a cancer-survivor, for crying out loud.
Obviously, the timing of this revelation is peculiar, and it appears no legal claim can be made against Favre. Even so, Favre drank from the fountain of narcissism and acted as such—cheating on his wife (or at least trying to). But wait a minute…isn’t Ben Roethlisberger returning from a suspension for doing the same thing? Didn’t Tiger Woods just go through Hell and back as a result of committing similar acts of infidelity? This is just another case in the endless line of instances of athletes/celebrities taking advantage of their stardom and inflating their sense of entitlement by unleashing their inner frat boy. No laws were necessarily broken in each case, but it is certainly a stinging admonishment of the person’s character. Be a man.
Obviously, we could generate volumes and volumes of discussion on the topic of celebrity entitlement and how the public puts stars on a pedestal, but that is for another time. What is interesting to me right now is that this wily veteran and NFL hero has completely decimated his entire legacy, both professionally and personally. This couldn’t come at a worse time for him, who is suffering through a disastrous season after yet another summer of Flip-Flop Fest that caused the public to despise him even more. But we’re used to this sort of thing, and we are a forgiving culture. Kobe’s been forgiven. Tiger has practically been forgiven (be honest: have you been rooting for Tiger to win every event?). Big Ben’s transgressions will be forgotten as well. Time heals all wounds, but winning only speeds up that process.
But Favre is a completely different case; he committed a disgraceful act AS HIS LASTING IMPRESSION. Those other guys at least got a chance to redeem themselves. If the Vikings lose this week against Dallas, the team has next-to-no chance of making the playoffs. This is now, most likely, Favre’s final hoorah (and it may be cut short if the elbow injury and the losing persist). As a result, Favre’s lasting legacy will reflect a world-class playing career that was overwhelmingly muddied by the retirement sagas and this Jenn Sterger incident. Think of how Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa or Barry Bonds are regarded: great careers that are tainted as a result of dishonest actions.
But again: Favre is different. He didn’t cheat. He played the game like any of us would have wanted to play like. He was the epitomic NFL quarterback, and we loved him for it. But he lost us along the way, not for reasons that betrayed the game itself (like steroids-users), but for reasons that betrayed our ability to care about athletes on a personal level. Favre made his name on the fact that he was the down-to-earth, country boy that had fun out there. What made specifically him so special was that we could relate to him, love him, imagine ourselves hanging out with him. Now, he’s lost that label for good. He’s lumped in with Tiger and Roethlisberger and all the other larger-than-life celebrities out there. We have no real connection with them other than enjoying their lucrative talents; they ARE on an entirely different plane than we are. When Tiger was caught with the stripper carousal, someone said, “Oh, it’s fascinating to see that even those in high places are human just like us.” We enjoyed seeing them fall to our level. Well, what hurts Favre here is exactly the opposite. He WAS just like us, and now he isn’t. One of our own turned to the Dark Side or sat with the popular kids.
Call it retrospective criticism, but Favre’s recent actions have lost us for good. What hurts him the most—and what hurts Bonds and McGwire as well—is that he’s leaving the game on the lowest note possible. If you haven’t noticed, Pete Rose STILL hasn’t been forgiven. Not a good sign for Number 4. Favre’s only chance of redemption is to make up for all this either through quality performances on the field (doubtful considering the way this year has progressed, injury concerns, and lack of motivation) or through kissing up to the media. Because as we’ve seen, the media has the ability to sway our opinions one way or another. Will he atone for his misdeeds like Tiger did with a public admission of contrition? Or will he phase out into the shadows like McGwire? Favre should go down as one of the best quarterbacks of all-time, but only time will tell if we will grant him that honor. I just hope Favre has a good PR rep.
Rambling aside, on to Ferrells and Fallons for week 6…
QB: Tom Brady (NE). Here’s the evidence: Brady is coming off of a bye week; he’s playing at home; he’s had two weeks to prepare for the Ravens, and over a week to prepare to cope without Randy Moss; he’s playing the Ravens. “Wait,” you might say. The Ravens have a good defense. Right now, they’re 9th in the league and 2nd against the pass. However, here are the QBs they’ve faced: Mark Sanchez (week 1), Carson Palmer (bad), Seneca Wallace, Charlie Batch, and Kyle Orton. All of those teams are primarily running teams, with the exception of Denver. Nonetheless, Orton still put up over 300 yards and a passer rating over 100 last week against the Ravens on the road despite the complete absence of a ground game with Moreno injured. And you think Brady can’t do the same?
Maybe I’m just down on the Ravens so far and opposed to their present hype, but this week will go a long way towards proving to me if that defense is as good as advertised. Every single game has been close for them (including a loss to the Cincinnati Bungles and a close victory at home over the Browns) with the exception of the Broncos game, who again, didn’t have a run game. I refuse to buy into Flacco (72 rating so far) yet. Fantasy players should tell you how disappointing he’s been, especially with all the weapons around him. Boldin is the only one that has cashed in consistently. Without Ray Rice, that team would be in trouble offensively. Unless they prove me wrong this week, I’m still not sucked in.
Other options: Matt Cassel (KC), Drew Brees (NO), Josh Freeman (TB)
(Last week: Hill vs. STL…21-32, 227 yds, 3 td)
RB: Steven Jackson (STL). Part of me wanted to pick the Rams to upset the Chargers this week, but ultimately, I wimped out. Regardless, I still think this will be a close game. I love this Rams team. I had Danny “Wes Welker Jr.” Amendola in my other candidates at WR last week, and he paid off big time (even though it was in mop up time). I think this offense can really move the ball, but it all hinges on avoiding turnovers and Jackson’s ability to move the chains. He’s done it so far, and I think he will do it again this week against the Chargers. The Chargers allowed Michael Bush, fresh off of injury, to run for a c-note. Jackson should pick up where Bush left off.
Other options: Arian Foster (HOU), Rashard Mendenhall (PIT), Justin Forsett (SEA)
(Last week: Cadillac Williams vs. CIN…11 rush, 33 yds)
WR: Hines Ward/Heath Miller (PIT). Here is my obligatory discussion of Ben Roethlisberger’s return. I think he’s going to be fine. He probably won’t put up amazing numbers against the Browns, as they will probably feed Mendenhall for most of the game, but he should impress. Whether he is consistent over the remainder of the season will be the big question. Big Ben is capable of being one of the top 10 QBs in the game, but it will take him a few weeks to get back into game speed. Still, if you own Ward and Miller, you should be psyched. After a disappointing first quarter of the year, these two guys should bust out. When Roesthlisberger is under center, the Steelers become a passing team instead of a running team, and Ward and Miller are his favorite targets. Things are looking up.
Other options: Danny Amendola (STL, I love this guy even more with Mark Clayton out), Derrick Mason (BAL), Austin Collie (IND)
(Last week: Celek vs. SF…3 rec, 47 yds, 1 TD)
QB: Matt Ryan (ATL). The Falcons are the bizarro version of the Ravens (and both have black birds as mascots). Both teams are 4-1; both teams have solid run games; both teams have decent defenses. That said, I obviously disagree completely on their QBs; I have little confidence in Flacco whereas I have plenty in Matt Ryan. Ryan has shown up so far, which makes me happy because along with the Colts, the Falcons are my preseason NFC Super Bowl team.
Now, it’s going to seem weird after singing Ryan’s praises that I am putting him in the Fallons section this week. I have an uneasy feeling that the Eagles are going to harass him all night. A lot of tipped passes and pressure. Likewise, if Roddy White is shut down, Ryan may have trouble finding other open receivers throughout the game.
Other options: Mark Sanchez (NYJ), Chad Henne (MIA), Donavan McNabb (WAS)
(Last week: Romo vs. TEN…31-46, 406 yds, 3 TD, 3 INT)
RB: Jahvid Best (DET). The Giants took Arian Foster out of the game in week 5 and Matt Forte in week 4. Both performances came after two embarrassing losses to the Colts and Titans where their run defense was softer than Fozzie Bear’s ass. Their defense took it personally, and now they’ve got that swagger back and are attacking the ball like grizzly bears. The issue is whether this intensity will last. I think it does at least against the Lions with Best getting shut down.
Other options: Michael Bush (OAK), Felix Jones (DAL), Frank Gore (SF)
(Last week: Charles vs. IND…16 rush, 87 yds, 3 rec, 14 yds, fumble lost)
WR: Brandon Lloyd (DEN). I tweeted over Sunday that Lloyd was this year’s version of Miles Austin. There always seems to be some unknown WR who rapidly shoots up the fantasy ladder each season. Lloyd has definitely been that guy so far, with Austin Collie, Malcolm Floyd, and Hakeem Nicks having similarly outstanding and surprising numbers. Lloyd has stood out to me in that he’s performed on an unloved team during the preseason with an unloved QB in Orton. Now he’s leading the league in receiving yards. Unfortunately, the Broncos play a stifling Jets defense in week 6. Lloyd should slow down a bit this week. I wouldn’t, however, think this is the beginning of the end for this fairy tale ride. If you own Lloyd, don’t panic after one bad game against the Jets.
Other options: Steve Smith (NYG), Brandon Tate (NE), Greg Jennings (GB)
(Last week: Boldin vs. DEN…1 rec, 8 yds)