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Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009

Dj Vu All Over Again

The Fairly Detached Observers

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Here we go again. Brett Favre has told the New York Jets he’s retired, just as he told the Packers a year ago. It didn’t stick then, and the Observers have their doubts now.

Frank: That was pretty obvious of Favre, to re-retire the day after the Observers’ weekly deadline. As though that would keep us from sending a few fairly detached jibes his way.

Artie: I’ve figured out his real plan. A dream scenario!

Frank: Let ‘er rip.

Artie: OK. He’s not going to have surgery for the biceps injury that helped wreck the Jets’ season. That’ll take time to heal, so he won’t do any throwing, but he’ll stay in shape.

Frank: And pretty soon it’s summer.

Artie: And maybe he gets itchy again, like an old bird dog as fall approaches.

Frank: There is a precedent.

Artie: Now we come to, say, the end of October. And Aaron Rodgers pulls a Ben Sheets—out for the season. And the Packers decide that neither of the backups is ready to take over.

Frank: So they remember this guy in Mississippi.

Artie: But Ted Thompson can’t talk to Favre because Favre hates him. So the Packers get Ron Wolf to call Brett. Wolf tells him, “I made your career by bringing you to Green Bay. You can return the favor and come back to finish out the season.”

Frank: Hey, fair’s fair.

Artie: And Brett says, “Yeah, I can play and make my amends to the fans for all the trouble last year.” So he returns, leads the Pack to the Super Bowl and on the last play... Well, I don’t want to go that far yet.

Frank: What a saga!

Artie: It could happen. The Jets have salary-cap trouble, so if Favre decided to re-un-retire they might have no choice financially except to release him. Then he could go to any team he wanted.

Frank: Last week Brett told ESPN, “No way I could ever ask for a release... It’s over.” But we’re ju-u-st a bit skeptical. A release is exactly what he wanted last year, but the Packers infuriated him by saying, “We don’t want you signing with the Vikings, who happen to be in our own division.”

Artie: So the Pack traded him to the Jets. Or in Brett’s most recent words, “They were shipping me off to Siberia.” Ted Thompson as Joseph Stalin!

Frank: And Brett in the Gulag— Alexander Solzhenitsyn in pads.

Artie: In a few months, Brett can win his own Nobel Prize by re-leading the Pack to glory.

Frank: Except that he’s still bitter toward Thompson, and if he could get the freedom in 2009 that he wanted in 2008, and if the Vikings are worse off at quarterback than the Packers, which they are...

Artie: Uh-oh.

Frank: Favre’s dream scenario might match yours except for one detail—his might be titled “The Color Purple.”

Soft Spots, Blind Spots

Artie: If you were on “Jeopardy” and asked to name the sporting equivalent of the NCAA Basketball Finals and the Super Bowl combined, you’d have to answer, “What is NASCAR’s February Daytona 500?” ain’a? And how ‘bout Sunday’s spectacle when Wisconsin’s own Matt Kenseth won the trophy in the rain-shortened Daytona 380? As a Detroit Lions’ fan would like to be able to say someday, “Hey, a win’s a win.”

Frank: As usual, I didn’t watch a lap. But as usual, I’m fascinated by your admission that you’re a gearhead.

Artie: I’ll put NASCAR on the TV on a nice Sunday afternoon, have it in the background whilst I engage in light housecleaning and enjoy a nice cocktail. And natch’, I don my Larry the Cable Guy sleeveless shirt and Pennzoil cap, what the fock.

Frank: Auto racing is just one of my blind spots, in terms of TV viewing. But I should add that I appreciate a lot more about motor sports than I used to.

Artie: Sounds like an oxymoron, and believe me I know about moronic things.

Frank: In my years at the Journal Sentinel I got to know Dave Kallmann, who’s the best motor sports writer in the country. I love reading his stuff, but the telecasts take way too long.

Artie: I sure don’t watch every second of a race because who could? But I like NASCAR because it’s like the political party of my choice—always steers to the left.

Frank: Even if a few of the fans don’t. Now, the kind of racing I really dig involves both two- and four-legged athletes.

Artie: The Sport of Kings?

Frank: You betcha. I just love to watch horse racing. No trotters, though—there has to be someone on the horse’s back.

Artie: Me, I watch the Triple Crown races and that’s it.

Frank: I love going to the track, too. When I’m back East I always try to hit Belmont Park on Long Island or Monmouth Park in New Jersey. The horses are beautiful and the jockeys may be the toughest, bravest athletes of all.

Artie: I’ve got my sweat-stained Pennzoil cap and you’ve got your hound’s-tooth fedora and fat ol’ stogie.

A genuine tout! You know, 70 or 80 years ago horse racing was one of the three most popular sports in America. There was baseball, of course, and one of my favorites—boxing.

Frank: The Sweet Science. How’d it ever get that name?

Artie: The phrase was popularized by a master American journalist—just like us—he being A.J. Liebling of The New Yorker. “Science”? You bet. Geometry, physics and the human biology of unconsciousness. “Sweet”? I don’t know, unless it’s a hot date with the bikini-clad ring girl after the match.

Frank: Boxing is too brutal for me. But here’s something that knocks me out: soccer. But only at a certain level: World Cup-level or the English Premier League.

Man, I was all over that USA-Mexico match last week!

Artie: As always, I have to say: not enough scoring. Why watch something that reminds me of my personal life?

Frank: I like the English broadcasters. You hear the greatest adjectives—”What an exquisite goal! An impeccable display of football!”

Artie: Or in American, “Booyah!”

Frank: I agree that a little more scoring would be nice. But one great thing about soccer is that the clock doesn’t stop. Most games don’t allow for overtime, so if you DVR it for two hours it’ll jolly well be done in two hours. You can’t do that for football or basketball.

Artie: Or golf. Mankind has yet to invent the DVD disc that can record an entire round of 18. I’ll watch the major tournaments, but that’s it. I enjoy the drama of the majors, and waiting for some monumental collapse.

Frank: Greg Norman, as we featured in a column last year.

Artie: Ah, the Shark goes belly up, again!

Frank: I’m like you. I’ll watch the majors, but usually only the last few holes on Sunday.

Artie: And tennis? Not on my radar screen.

Frank: Again, only the majors, and only the finals. Tennis players are the biggest babies in sports, always whining and raging.

Artie: Divas, even the guys.

Frank: And all that noise while they’re playing. The media call it “grunting,” but it’s really shrieking. Just shut up and hit the dang ball!

Artie: I’d watch bowling, but there’s hardly any left on TV. One thing I would watch: pro dodgeball. I’ll work on how to juice that up for TV.

Frank: Here’s one indoor sport I enjoy watching: pool. However, this applies only when women are doing the cueing.

Artie: I agree. Rack ’em up, ladies.

Frank: Here’s where I draw the line, though: poker. I don’t know who decided that it qualifies as a televised “sport.” As a viewer, I won’t ante up.

Artie: Me either—it’s too depressing to see even bigger lowlifes than me strike it rich.