The rain let up and Brett Favre was winging it, just like he used to do in the days before cell phones could take pictures and voice mails weren’t so easy to keep.
Aging and inept one moment, he looked youthful and revived the next. Good enough to pick off a few more career milestones, even if he wasn’t quite good enough to lead the Minnesota Vikings to an improbable comeback win over the New York Jets.
His day began with a reported apology to his teammates. It ended like it has too many times for Favre, with an interception that sealed his team’s fate.
No need to apologize for that, because it comes as part of a package deal. With Favre, you get the highs along with the lows, and the only thing certain is that there will be some drama involved.
Usually that drama takes place on the field. The last few days it’s played out all over the Internet.
Roger Goodell’s investigators are hot on the trail, looking to find out if the evidence backs up allegations that Favre engaged in some highly inappropriate behavior with a woman employed by the Jets when he was the quarterback in New York two years ago. There’s a chance he could be fined, even suspended, if they are proven true.
It shouldn’t be terribly difficult to sort out the facts, even if the woman allegedly at the receiving end of Favre’s attention doesn’t cooperate. There are texts, there are voice mails, and there are pictures.
More importantly, there are ways to figure out if they actually came from Favre.
About the only thing that seems to be missing is a lot of outrage over the whole thing. Even Goodell didn’t seem particularly concerned when he said Monday that the league is trying to figure out what the facts are and “then we’ll determine what the next step is from there, if any.”
Maybe that’s because former Jets game host Jenn Sterger has not said one thing publicly about the alleged incidents since they happened two years ago. She didn’t complain to authorities or team executives and would still not be named if the website Deadspin hadn’t bought the voice mails and pictures from someone else and then run them without her permission.
Or maybe it’s because it’s just as hard for Goodell as it is most football fans to imagine the only grandfather behind center in the NFL being capable of doing something no grandfather should ever do.
Favre wasn’t talking about it after the game, though he was given ample opportunity once again to deny leaving suggestive voice mails and sending obscene photos to Sterger. Asked at one point if he was embarrassed by the allegations, he deflected the question.
“I’m embarrassed we lost this football game,” Favre said.
Truth is, Favre should be more than embarrassed if the voice mails and pictures are really his. Embarrassed that he sent them, and embarrassed that he wasn’t smart enough to realize that in today’s new world of communication, nothing can ever remain truly private.
Tiger Woods found that out when texts sent to one of his mistresses started his troubles, and a voice mail asking her to erase his number compounded them. It wasn’t long before the voice mail was posted on a website, there for everyone to listen in on the drama of what he thought was his private life.
Worse yet is the attention being paid to members of Duke’s lacrosse team lately for all the wrong reasons. A recent Duke graduate with way too much time on her hands decided that instead of telling her close friends about her sex life with some of the players, she would create a 42-slide PowerPoint presentation to really impress them.
It’s funny stuff, with a list of 13 men and her colorful appraisal of their sexual abilities, complete with a bar graph ranking. The three friends she e-mailed it to probably got some good laughs before they passed it along to others and it quickly became an Internet sensation.
But it certainly wasn’t funny to the athletes she bedded. Not when their most personal attributes were posted for everyone to enjoy.
No one’s laughing about Favre’s predicament either. Certainly not Goodell, who could conceivably face the unpleasant task of punishing his league’s most beloved player for personal conduct policy violations should it come to that.
It may not, because Sterger has not made herself available to NFL investigators yet, and seems reluctant to be drawn into the controversy. She’s kept quiet for two years, and there’s no reason to think she’s going to start talking now.
If this had happened in Favre’s younger days as a quarterback, that would have sealed the deal. There would be no incriminating cell phone pictures, and most likely no voice mails.
But there are pictures, and there are voice mails. They’ll be online for a lot longer than Favre will play quarterback in the NFL, just a click away for everyone to enjoy.
Goodell might be wise to decide that’s enough punishment all by itself.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org
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