At the beginning of last week, the Vikings' primary concern was whether they would find a wide receiver somewhere within the organization or on another team's roster sufficient to pull the team's offense from the clear downfield malaise into which it had fallen. With the identification of and trade for New England Patriots' disgruntled receiver Randy Moss, the Vikings appeared to have cleared their most substantial hurdle toward returning to the top of a weak NFC.
With the New York Jets' game on the horizon, however, yet another crisis threatens to derail the Vikings' season. This problem, no doubt facilitated by entities beholden to and engaged with the New York Jets football team, centers on the Vikings' most critical 2010 component, their starting quarterback.
Though the now persistent and loud rumors began circulating at least two years ago when Brett Favre was a member of the New York Jets, new evidence, regarding Favre's sexual exploits, are now available just about anywhere on the internet, on television, and, where still available, in print media--and, no doubt, a book already is near completion. Last Spring, the rumors were mere rumors. Now, the rumors come replete with voice messages from Favre to a former Jets' sideline reporter. And, of course, they come with pictures.
If true, the rumors of Favre's peccadilloes, or at least his attempted peccadilloes, could be shrugged off as yet one more human acting like a human and doing so in a sophomoric manner. Unfortunately, the NFL and possibly the law have different views of this type of behavior. Assuming the sexting photos are appropriately linked to Favre and that the applicable New York and Federal laws do not frown upon unwanted cell phone sexting, Favre almost certainly will still have to dodge the NFL.
Already, there are some alarming signs that Favre is preparing the Vikings' fan base for what could be a collision with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Standing at the press conference podium on Thursday, Favre made every effort to emphasis the treatment that he was receiving for his elbow, noting, specifically, how it was "no big thing" as he rubbed it and grimaced for effect.
The concern is not that Favre's elbow is causing him any greater discomfort than it had at any point last season. Rather, the concern is that Favre is relying on the current discomfort as pretext should Goodell decide to punish him for his reported transgression. The question then becomes what is worse, a Vikings' team led by Tarvaris Jackson or a Vikings' team led by a quarterback clearly distracted by what could become a substantial civil suit and by marital discord? Neither is appealing for a Vikings' team that has been battling to exorcise the traditional demons associated with teams attempting to return to the top of their Conference a year removed from such a showing.
The NFL clearly has a vested interest in permitting this situation to play out long enough for any penalty to arise only after the season, when, now, it seems almost certain, Favre retires. But that does not necessarily alleviate the issue for Favre, who's plight finds unfortunate parallels with that of Tiger Woods, at least to the point of begging the question.
Like a golfer, an NFL quarterback relies on focus and concentration to perform at the highest level. The question for Favre, possible NFL suspension aside, is whether he can set aside the marital discord almost certainly following from his overtures to what amounts to a twenty-year-old version of his seemingly doting wife. So far this season, the answer appears to be no.
At the end of last week, Vikings' head coach Brad Childress looked and sounded every bit the head coach emerging from the denial associated with an unexpected change of fortunes. Giddy earlier in the week over having secured Moss' services, Childress appeared morose when speaking about Favre's situation, stating that "it's only a distraction if you let it be one." That's coach speak for "it's a major distraction." Childress' further expression of "mild concern" regarding Favre's elbow suggests that he, like Favre, is already scrambling to set the table for everyone's worst nightmare--turning over the reigns of a championship contending team to Jackson. Even Childress must now be second-guessing that trade with the Giants.
Up Next: New Yorkers Show Minnesotans How to Conduct Business.