The Afternoon After: More than revenge, Favre gets personal vindication

Here are my thoughts on the week’s football games after a busy weekend – hope all had an excellent Halloween. (Mine was pretty stellar)

Another great Favre moment at Lambeau

I don’t like writing about what everyone else is, but what can I say about Brett Favre? I’ve lamented in the past that I’m sick of the guy, and that I don’t think he can get the job done anymore. I may have to back off at least one of those stances.

It’s become apparent over the past few weeks that Favre’s still got it. Halfway through the season, Favre is on pace for almost 4,000 yards, 32 touchdowns and six interceptions – and most importantly, the Vikings are 7-1 and a legitimate contender to win home-field in the NFC.

When Favre hopped on with the Vikings, most thought he was just an aged quarterback who’d lost his fastball, latching on with a stellar defense and the best running back in football in order to attempt to ride them to revenge over his old team, and maybe a championship too. Now we’re seeing that the diminished husk of Favre that the Jets suffered through last year was likely solely because of a relatively serious biceps injury that appears to be completely healed. Favre isn’t just along for the ride; he’s the conductor.

And I’d be willing to wager that a great deal of the highly negative reception that Favre got in Green Bay yesterday was people secretly wishing they had him back. Say what you will about Favre’s horrible annual un-retirement and annoying “aw-shucks” attitude, but the only place Aaron Rodgers is better than Favre is in fantasy leagues – and that may not even be true this season.

I’m not saying the Packers made the wrong choice. It was a difficult spot. Rodgers is 50 years younger than Favre and has a bright future ahead of him. But that doesn’t change that the fans at Lambeau need only look at the purple-clad veteran carving them up and remember all the good times.

And just maybe, they realized that they – and probably most of the rest of us – were selfish to expect someone this good to retire because it better suited what we wanted to see.

  • Speaking of vindication, how about Dolphins receiver – or more accurately, kick returner – Ted Ginn Jr.? After a terrible season to date which included several inopportune drops in key spots, culminating in an awful showing against New Orleans in a crushing loss last week, Ginn looked 2003 Dante Hall-esque while breaking two long returns to the right of the field. This followed a week in which even former Dolphins were killing him (Bob Kuechenberg called him “an embarrassment”) and fans were calling for his decapitation. Iginn still don’t think Ginn is an NFL caliber receiver, evidenced by the fact that he didn’t have a single catch yesterday, but he probably didn’t deserve all the abuse he was taking. Though it’s Ginn’s fault he’s never been a good route-runner and has actually regressed in his third season, he didn’t ask for expectations to be shot through the moon by getting drafted with the No. 9 overall pick in 2007 over Brady Quinn, who isn’t really that good anyway. Ginn had a rough week, and showed some serious fortitude – if not receiving skills – by rebounding from a hellacious onslaught to become the main reason his team beat the Jets.
              • On the other side, has there been a less likeable team lately than the 2009 Jets? After talking a huge game, they got beaten by the Dolphins despite outgaining them 4-1. Then you get this sarcastic drivel, from linebacker Bart Scott:
                ”They’re a great team. They’ll probably contend for the Super Bowl. They have a tremendous offense — great running backs, a great quarterback, a great tight end. They are stacked across the board. They have a tremendous offense, and they showed it today. They are Super Bowl contenders, and they will probably take it all the way.”
                What a horrendous example to broadcast to his team’s young fans. Of course, this attitude comes at least in part from their coach, Rex Ryan, who insisted that his team “outplayed” the Dolphins after the game. Earlier this year, Miami had a game in which they held the ball for 45 minutes and lost to the Colts on Monday night. Contrast Ryan to Dolphins coach Tony Sparano, who was effusive in his praise of Peyton Manning:
                ”For me, the team showed growth from week one to week two. But it was still a loss and none of us are happy about that.”
                Note to Ryan: Sparano mostly addressed his own team’s shortcomings and didn’t try to insist his squad was better than the team that just beat them. Probably the right way to go about handling that situation, instead of being a terribly poor loser.
                  • Ray Rice exposes a Broncos defense on Sunday What do we make of the Broncos getting blown out by the Ravens, 30-7, which I actually predicted in this spot last week? I’ve thought all along that they weren’t quite as good as they were playing, but now they’ve given up increasingly more points each of the past four weeks and face the Steelers next week. They’re still 6-1; they’ve still beaten the Patriots, Cowboys, Chargers and Bengals; and they still have a plum schedule. They’re going to end up 12-4 or 11-5, but going to Baltimore and getting destroyed is a bad sign. If they have to go to New England, Indy or Denver, I don’t trust Kyle Orton, and I see a defense that was playing over its head at least somewhat early in the season. The Broncos are still a solid team, I’m just saying they’re probably not a legit Super Bowl contender.
                  • Peyton Manning – who I’ve already said is the best player in the NFL – wins another game where his team is pretty much beaten for 95% of the game, this time against the 49ers. You can beat him early, but much like the Yankees in the World Series, you can’t close him out, though he didn’t actually thrown any touchdowns. That’s why I think this might be a Colts year again. If their defense holds up, Peyton is playing on a high enough level that he might just carry them through.
                  • I don’t think the Saints go undefeated – it just seems unlikely – but I don’t think they lose tonight at home against Atlanta. Maybe Nov. 30 against the Patriots or Dec. 13 at the Falcons. For tonight, I’ll go 38-24 for New Orleans.

                  Here’s my latest top 10:

                  1. Saints (6-0) (Last week: 1) We’ll see how they do tonight, but still the best.

                  2. Colts (7-0) (LW: 2) Pull it off without Donald Brown, Anthony Gonzalez.

                  3. Vikings (7-1) (LW: 4) Percy Harvin’s going to be a 1,200-yard receiver – soon.

                  4. Patriots (5-2) (LW: 5) Dolphins won’t be easy, but Pats should win.

                  5. Steelers (5-2) (LW: 6) Big one coming vs. Denver; Big Ben should be ready.

                  6. Broncos (6-1) (LW: 3) Why behind N.E. Pitt? I think both are better teams.

                  7. Bengals (5-2) (LW: 7) Coming off bye to host hot Ravens team, could be trouble.

                  8. Eagles (5-2) (LW: 9) Destroyed Giants; DeSean Jackson, Shady McCoy the future.

                  9. Cowboys (5-2) (LW: NR) Last 3 for Romo: 8 TDs, 0 picks. Panic may have been unfounded.

                  10. Ravens (4-3) (LW: NR) Cautiously optimistic here – beat Cincy and they’re on their way.


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