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Posted on Oct 27, 2010
AP / Seth Wenig

By Mark Heisler

Dear Brett:
Thanks for coming.

                       Eternally yours,
                       The gods

At least we won’t have to worry about any more of those off-season Brett Favre Watches.

It should not be a surprise that the nature of Favre’s last comeback—don’t worry, after this nightmare there won’t be any more—has been revealed for what it was: a setup.

Not that the theme has changed since Icarus flew too close to the sun. Now, however, there are technologies and media outlets devoted to deconstructing heroes so nobody gets away with anything.

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Favre—an icon from his arrival in the relatively innocent ’90s when John Madden’s reverence became the stuff of parody for Frank Caliendo (“You know the Greek gods? He’s one step above that”)—is just an Old School guy who stuck around long enough to get the New World treatment.

Favre is now a fireball streaking toward Earth, having seen it all go wrong in the last three months of a 20-year career.

In 12 weeks, he got the whole treatment, starting with the media’s annual stakeout of his Kiln, Miss., home, awaiting his decision on returning ... to the visit by Viking teammates ... to the O.J.-like coverage as Favre accompanied them back to the Twin Cities with TV helicopters following their drive from the airport.

Unfortunately, this was followed by the anguish—Does this m-m-mean you’re not taking us to the Super Bowl?—after the Vikings started 1-3.

Then, for the maraschino cherry atop the sundae of Favre’s ruin, there was The Sex Scandal.

Now, barring a bigger miracle than Favre pulled off for the Vikings last season, he’ll go home with even more arrows in his back than after his lost 2008 season with the Jets, and a new image replacing the Barefoot-Boy-From-Mississippi he left with.

What happened?

We happened.

There’s nothing new here, except us.

Favre didn’t just get old. His limitations are no surprise. If his surgically repaired ankle had been OK, he’d have announced his return months before. Old people playing QB in the NFL can get sore elbows.

As for the sexual high jinks, whether or not Favre sent pictures of his penis to a female Jets employee, crude behavior is nothing new in this subculture. If anything, it’s surely at a new, more exciting and perilous level with handheld devices to take and send pictures, part of a new mode of human communication called “sexting.”

It seems so harmless, sharing a pic of the privates with a close friend—even if it turns out to be the whole world—as have Evan Longoria, Grady Sizemore, Santonio Holmes, Greg Oden, George Hill, Dorell Wright and, of course, Chad Ochocinco.

If 24 percent of respondents ages 14-17 tell an Associated Press-MTV poll they’ve done naked sexting, you can imagine the implications for professional athletes.

The sports subculture runs on titillation, if not outright lust, from the field to the press box to the viewer, as illustrated by the naked horndog mentality in beer commercials, pitched to young males.

Favre’s alleged victim—or at least the subject of his advances—was Jets sideline reporter Jenn Sterger, who had posed nude for Playboy as a college cheerleader and has never stopped trading on her beauty (see JennSterger.com).

Fan interest in the story is, of course, keen. Now, luckily for prurient interest, there are alternatives to mainstream media that don’t observe niceties like “private lives.”

Deadspin.com, which came into being as an anti-ESPN, whose name it mocks, broke the story in August by outing Sterger, violating a confidence, as Deadspin Editor A.J. Daulerio noted forthrightly, because “I’m a dick.”

Now heading for TMZ-land at flank speed, Deadspin has maintained its lead on this story in time-honored tabloid fashion ... by paying for it.

In early October, it posted a follow-up bombshell: the video of the penis sent to Sterger, allegedly by Favre. Daulerio told Business Insider’s Nicholas Carlson that Deadspin had purchased it—from a third source—for more than the site had ever before paid for such an item.

With the story out, the mainstream is obliged to react, right up to Commissioner Roger Goodell, loath as he seems to be to lump one of the NFL’s most beloved players—at least pre-2010—with the heavier-handed Ben Roethlisbergers.

Of course, it’s three months since the story broke and Sterger has yet to comment, file charges or, reportedly, talk to Goodell’s people. The commissioner is thus left trying to wriggle out of his own investigation, which is based to this point on an unconfirmed Internet report.

Meanwhile, at the Worldwide Leader ...

Once a phenom, itself, ESPN now functions as the national sports page, defining “mainstream.”

Accordingly, it does titillation in a low-key style with attractive anchors who are dressed to kill, sufficiently to keep Hannah Storm and Sage Steele, both terrific anchors, up there in media hottie polls, a staple of Internet coverage.

Of course, one Storm ensemble did trigger comment by PTI’s irreverent Tony Kornheiser, who was suspended before he could say “Oops!” for saying Hannah’s skirt was “way too short for somebody in her 40s or maybe 50s.”


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Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, October 29, 2010 at 4:18 am Link to this comment

Why is it that American news services go catatonic with sex scandals and why do French (and most European) news services just wink at them?

Because of the differing notions of confidentiality as regards one’s private life of even public people. If one spouse is (supposedly) “cheating” on another, that is clearly a matter between the two spouses and not between the two spouses and a nation of puritan gawkers.

Isn’ this carrying “freedom of speech”—which has become a subterfuge for all sorts of mindless tomfoolery—a wee bit too far. Especially the feeding frenzy of “see it now!” TV reporting.

Are there left no notions of privacy or one’s personal dignity?

Methinks that your right to be informed stops where my right of privacy and personal dignity begins. Barring, of course, any extralegal conduct on my part. But is an extramarital relationship necessarily also extralegal? Evidently, in America the answer is a resounding Yes! Despite a marriage contract that does not mention the matter whatsoever?

Which is a shame, since it is simply a matter between two individuals and not the world at large, regardless of anyone’s mediatization.

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