NFC Championship — Blunder in the bayou
NFC Championship Recap
New Orleans Saints 31, Minnesota Vikings 28 OT
We warned you.
Brett Favre did what he does best at the most inopportune times — make ill-advised decisions rooted in a desire to chuck the ball as hard as possible whenever in doubt.
Favre’s failure was epic, but so was his performance for the better part of the previous 58 minutes. After taking numerous hits all game, a particularly painful blow laid Favre out with a bruised ankle. After the Vikings got the ball back, Favre hobbled back out and led the Vikings on a game-tying drive with under five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Up to this point, Favre epitomized the punishment-taking ball of grit to which he’s often compared. As the Vikings drove closer and closer to the potential game-winning field goal, the feeling that somehow, someway, Favre would mess this up shrank. But, then it reared its head again — the awful decision making ingrained in the mythology of Brett Favre.
When all that was needed was a conservative play, Favre looked for the heroic and found the opposite. Far worse than his overtime interception against Philadelphia in a divisional round playoff game and 2007’s surprising interception on the second play from scrimmage in overtime, Sunday’s act of self-sabotage occurred in a game that could generously be described as “in the bag.” Favre’s performance would have been admirable were it not for the interception. Instead, his attempt to bite off more than he could chew and avoid the obvious five-yard run that would have brought the Vikings back into field goal range represents the third and final (?) interception in the holy trinity of Favre’s postseason futility.
It’s not that we only take joy in watching Brett Favre lose, although we most certainly do feel a tinge of satisfaction every time he tumbles back down the proverbial Super Bowl hill. Rather, we here at Divisionaries love the sheer torment inflicted on every Packers fan throughout the twists and turns of Favre’s never-ending drama. Some of us relish the anguish because our favorite teams have been humiliated by Favre. For others, it’s the karmic leveling that’s being imposed on a certain subset of Packers fans who bought into the hype by the Zubaz-load; their Stockholm Syndrome-esque devotion to the player/tormentor instead of “their team” and its upstart heir apparent will be one of the funnier footnotes in Packers history. Just think about it — a significant portion of the fan base that prides itself on devotion and loyalty to city and team bolted for the green-and-gold door because they identified more with the player — the symbolic middle-aged white dude, no less — than the team.
Whether he retires or not, Favre will be remembered long after because he’s not just an athlete. He’s the representative of a generation slowly dealing with their fading youth; and like Favre, they aren’t going to go quietly. We could write a master’s thesis on Wisconsin Baby Boomers’ unhealthy relationship with Brett Favre, but we’ll keep the meat of that under wraps until they’re safely ensconced in the later stages of retirement (2040?). The deep identification that an entire state of hunters and gatherers felt with one hard-drinking man is more important toward understanding the current mood of the state than any lackluster politician that sneaked through the 1990’s political minefield under cover of green and gold. Back then, people might complain about the ten cents they were taxed on an ugly $20 Super Bowl XXXI T-shirt or, even worse, a piece of dirt from Lambeau Field; but, if it didn’t come with a cheesehead or Favre collectible, it didn’t matter. But we digress…
After three plus seasons of Favre exhaustion, it’s still a toss up as to whether Brett will come back for another year. We say “go 4 it, Brett!” In three consecutive years, you’ve capped unsuccessful seasons with interceptions on your quest to find the perfect finale, so why not run it to four? Although, the fact that you can’t actually run it anymore should weigh on your decision, no?
Even though this will be the final Divisionaries column for the season, we couldn’t leave without providing you with our Super Bowl predictions…
Indianapolis Colts vs. New Orleans Saints
Saints: “Archie Manning takes over for a hurt Drew Brees to capture his first Super Bowl win. Lionel Richie writes ‘Three Times A Manning’ and everyone prays that the lockout comes sooner rather than later.” — Kenny Bernat
Saints: “Even though Indianapolis gets pumped up by listening to ‘When the Levee Breaks’ before game time, the team can’t stop Manning from allowing his head to fill with new and exciting endorsement possibilities. After the Colts’ loss, both Manning brothers will meet up to drink $10 rum from a plastic bottle and sob gently over their wasted seasons.” — Matt Kroll
Colts: “New Orleans outlasted two veteran quarterbacks with mediocre advertising deals, but that pales in comparison to the onslaught of ads for Oreos, televisions and God knows what else that Peyton Manning will unleash in Miami. ” — Rob Vosters
Colts: “NFL commissioner Roger Goodell officially declares defense ‘illegal’ just before the coin toss surprising both the Saints and Colts, who have been operating under that assumption for nearly a decade.” — Brian Howe Battle