Quarterback-turned-gunslinger Bret Favre has, for each of the past three years, held the fate and hearts of a football team, its fan base, and home city/state, in the palm of his magical hands. Whether it was the cheeseheads of Green Bay in 2007, the Jets’ faithful and the New York metropolitan area in 2008, or this year’s victims, the Twin Cities and their purple pride, Mr. Favre has alternately charmed and infuriated thousands of fans and teammates alike.
He has professed love for his environs, promising to be their “BFF” (that’s Bret Favre Forever), only to turn around and leave admist the carnage a short time later with curls of smoke still billowing from his gun-like fingers. His waffling act on retirement, whether honest or contrived, with tears or without, has now even been reduced to a joke in Sears commercials. That his indecision is now immortalized as to the simple act of making a decision as to appliances, however, cannot lessen the god-like power that he wields with respect to the NFL and its teams.
And now, for at least one day, his power is not restricted to the NFL alone – for today, he has expanded his power base to include major league baseball as well. He, and he alone, is creating a situation where there will be a baseball playoff game played on Tuesday. How, one may ask, can a simple NFL quarterback create such a scenario?
Simple – tonight’s Monday Night Football extravaganza pits Bret’s Vikings against his old team, the Packers. The game is being played in Minnesota, under the grey roof of the Metrodome. Meanwhile, the other inhabitants of the dome, baseball’s Twins, have pulled off a minor miracle, tying the Detroit Tigers for first place in the American League’s Central Division.
To settle the tie, the teams have to play in a one-game playoff, and Minnesota won the rights to host the game, which might be the last game they ever play in front of the giant baggie in right field.
Hence Mr. Favre’s interruption into Act I of baseball’s grand post-season stage. Ideally, the game (they’re calling it a regular season game, but it’s clearly a playoff game) would be played today, becuase the first full-fledged playoff series, with the mighty Yankees playing host to the Detroit-Minnesota winner, will commence on Wednesday. To have the game today, therefore, would provide the winner with a day off before stepping onto the enemy field of the new Yankee Stadium. But to play today would mean a conflict with the NFL’s version of dysfunctional family reunion between Favre and the men left behind to wear the green and gold uniforms that he donned for almost two decades, because they can’t play prime-time football and baseball games in the Metrodome on the same day.
One easy solution would have been to move the football game to Green Bay. After all, the baseball playoff game is key to the city of Minneapolis. A win in this game assures at least one, if not more, playoff game under the dome against the Yankees, and, more importantly, all of the revenue which follows such games. Surely the certainty of such increased revenue would trump a meaningless (as it pertains to the standings, that is) week-four NFL game, when there are still a dozen games to play. Also, the two teams meet later in the year, so couldn’t the home dates be swapped and the later game simply be played in Minnesota? That would put the reunion in the proper venue.
Wrong. An emphatic, unmistakable wrong. Because the Vikings’ brass does not want to throw poor Bret to the wolves of Green Bay’s Lambeau Field just yet. More realistically, they want to be the home stage for the long-anticipated reunion, rather than having it play out on the not-yet Frozen Tundra where the gunslinger worked his magic on so many occasions. This is, for the Vikings, a once-in-a-lifetime occasion. Clearly it is more important than getting to the Super Bowl, since they’ve already been to four of them. Sure, they lost them all, but this is Bret Favre against the Packers that we’re talking about!
So the Twins and Tigers will cool their heels for one more day before they square off for the privilege of facing the Bronx Bombers on Wednesday. The real winners here are the Yankees, who will be at an additional advantage against a team which will play on Tuesday and then be forced to travel East before playing at six o’clock the next evening. And armed with this advantage, it may be that the Yankee juggernaut will better be able to crush their weary opponents, meaning that, come next weekend, a well-rested Bret Favre and his Viking teammates, playing under a different dome in St. Louis, may very well be the only professional team still actively representing the Twin Cities.