This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and this is The Score.
This weekend, the drama of the last four NFL teams standing unfolds. By Sunday night, February 7's Superbowl will be set and there is no shortage of fans' hopeful predictions. New Yorkers can claim the league's toughest defense from their Jets squad and television honchos always welcome a New York market team to bring in big numbers for the big game. The New Orleans Saints draw tremendous emotional support nationwide as the devastation of Katrina among the good folks of The Big Easy has not been forgotten. The Indianapolis Colts ride into the battle behind a popular, artful, commanding leader who has earned coveted one-name status. That's right. He no longer needs the Manning. He is simply, boldly, straight-up Peyton.
But, honestly, why even delve into those other three teams, those other three fine quarterbacks. Let's face it. Most of the country will be up out of their seats this weekend, rooting for the 40-year-old good ol' boy from Mississippi, Brett Favre. If Tiger Woods is the scandal story of sports at the moment, Favre tops the inspirational list. Many a pundit ate their words this season, after griping that this egomaniac should just stay down South with his hunting buddies and stop yet again coming out of retirement, especially when his skills have eroded to the point of embarrassment. Well, when you run down a list of synonyms for “embarrassed” and find “mortified,” “ashamed,” “flustered,” “distressed,” “wishing the earth would swallow one up,” you know those same pundits have in fact sat down with knife and fork to eat their pre-season Favre-bashing words. This guy is the epitome of unflustered. He's magnetic, more skillful than ever, as comfortable in the pocket as a pair of worn-in Wrangler jeans, and himself swallowing the downfield earth up like a perfectly-evolved prehistoric carnivore.
Perhaps the only guy decidedly and vocally rooting against Favre and his Minnesota Vikings is Dallas linebacker Keith Brooking. Favre not only spoiled the Cowboys' late season heroics and eliminated them last week, but whooped them in a rout and Brooking was incensed by the Vikings' last-minute score, accusing them of going too far and rubbing the victory in the Cowboys' faces. With under two minutes left in the game, the Vikings leading 27-3, on fourth down Favre tosses a touchdown pass into the end zone to notch a final score of 34-3. Brooking went ballistic, charged the Vikings bench, called them unsportsmanlike in running up the score, and promised to mark next season's Vikings-Cowboys game in red on his payback calendar.
So I'm curious as to what tack Brooking would have chosen for the Vikings. Would they have been more humble in kicking a field goal for only three points? A field goal from the 11-yard-line would have been pretty much a lock, so wasn't going for the touchdown a sporting move, at least giving Dallas' defense a chance to protect their goal line? Should they have followed the mercy rules of Pop Warner, where kids are taught to be classy and take a knee at the very end, instead of further destroying the spirit of a badly beaten team by pushing the score up and up and up? Why wouldn't a proud professional, meaning Brooking, have been humiliated by the Vikings taking mercy on his highly accomplished team?
The ultimate irony here is that it wasn't so many months ago that this Brooking Cowboy character returned to Atlanta for a game against his long-time team, the Falcons, and displayed glaringly poor sportsmanship in taunting his former fans from the sideline. Brooking went so far as making obscene gestures toward the stands and lost many of the fans who used to cheer him on. So Keith Brooking isn't a Favre fan. But we, the vast majority, vehemently want the former Packer All-Star to now play a Superbowl in Vikings purple.
This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and that's The Score.
Banner image: Quarterback Brett Favre warms up before the game Vikings-Cowboys during the NFC Divisional Playoffs on January 17, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)