Like most other football fans, I respect Brett Favre (aside from his waffling and wishy-washy mannerisms) and what he has accomplished in his NFL tenure. He is an amazing player and is in many ways unparalleled in his accolades.
However, there are two sides to Brett Favre. In essence there is both a good and evil version of the man. The good Brett Favre is the man who runs down field after throwing a touchdown and picks up his receiver in a fireman’s carry. The evil Brett Favre is the one who has ripped out the hearts of other team’s fans more than one would like to count. The latter Favre is one 49er fans know all too well.
I have spoken with several Green Bay Packer fans since Favre left the frozen tundra. Most of them, if not all have conveyed a genuine distaste for the man since his departure to greener (the Jets) and now purpler (is that even a word?) pastures. Seemingly even those who once loved him dearly admit to the wickedness of this “Bizzaro Favre”.
As 49er fans, my family, friends and I can tell you unequivocally and without trepidation that the evil Favre exists to torture us without an ounce of hesitation. It has been one of his game day staples since taking over for an ineffective Don Majowski a game and a half into the 1992 season.
I am still haunted by recollections of Favre running amuck on the field, tossing touchdowns with abandon, and evading blitz packages like a straight man with a bull’s-eye on his rear in the Castro District. More often than not this catalog of heinous memoirs culminated with Favre ending the 49ers season in the playoffs. My father’s hatred for him might run deeper than mine as he once referred to Favre as the “antichrist”. That might have been a bit harsh, the second coming of Stalin maybe, but the antichrist?
Regardless, as I continue to go through life with these visions in my head I am left with three that while I have tried for years to dispel, are the worst and most anguishing of my sports existence.
October 14, 1996: Six days before my son was born the 49ers went to Green Bay on a Monday night and took an early 17-6 lead on their new rivals behind backup quarterback Elvis Grbac’s two touchdown connections with Jerry Rice. The game fell apart in the second half as Favre completed a 29-yard dart to Don Beebe who fell the ground, rose to his feet and ran to the end zone for the score.
Replays would show that cornerback Marquez Pope had touched Beebe after he fell, meaning he should have been called down. At the time the league lacked a replay system so the touchdown stood. The Packers played San Francisco to a 20-20 tie in the fourth quarter and won the game on an overtime field goal. Sure this was only a regular season game on the way to a 12-4 campaign but I saw it as a sign of things to come, and of course it has been just that.
January 13, 2002 – Wildcard Playoff: Horrible, horrible game is all I can say on this one. The 49ers went into Lambeau field led by Jeff Garcia, Terrell Owens, and a stingy defense. The first two quarters were played to a virtual standstill as the visitors went to the locker room ahead 7-6. The second half was a different story entirely as Favre who was a very mortal 6 of 8 for 43 yards to that point, returned to God-like form going 16 of 21 for 226 yards. His virtuoso performance subsequently ended the 49ers season yet again. As Favre stood on the sidelines with that damn cheesy grin he might as well have been digesting my freshly removed heart. I don’t think I had ever hated him more…
… until now.
September 27, 2009: There are a few other games that could merit being my top three losses at the hands of the “man that time forgot” but this one makes the list for a myriad of reasons. First and foremost the 49ers had this game won. There was just a bit too much Favre magic at the end.
To lose a game that they had a very real chance to win hurts a player and does not dissipate quickly, but it comes with the territory. For a fan it can be almost as horrible an experience. The back and forth of this game was so intense I needed a pick line attached to a bag of vodka midway through the third quarter.
I just remember the air being sucked out of my living room as soon as referee Jerome Boger came back with the verdict that decided the game. It brought back all of the disturbing recollections from the past. This was the 49ers chance to truly put themselves on the NFL map by dispatching of the media darling Vikings in their own backyard. Even more important is that this was an opportunity to put Favre in his place and show him that the 49ers were not going to be his perennial whipping boys any longer. They went after the best player in the game in Adrian Peterson and held him under 100 yards rushing and no touchdowns. The defense played exceptionally well, even with leaving at least three interceptions on the field and the 49ers had a chance to win despite losing Frank Gore to an ankle strain on his first carry of the game.
I failed to see it through my rage on Sunday but there is in fact a silver lining to this loss. I actually felt pain from it, it mattered to me, more so then any other loss since that 2002 playoff defeat. The past six years have been nothing short of agonizing, revolting even.
The 49ers had been the epitome of a rudderless ship under Dennis Erickson and Mike Nolan. They failed to post a winning record in any of those seasons. It’s as if a long lost friend whose company was enjoyed every Sunday without fail disappeared from my life, never to be seen again. With Mike Singletary being named head coach last December after the season finale that friend seems to have come home. It’s re-emerged in the form of a true team, one who will go the extra mile for each other and leave it all on the field. The fiery coach has instilled a very real identity in San Francisco. It no longer appears that the players and coaches are just going through the motions and collecting a weekly game check.
With a record of 2-1 the 49ers lead the NFC West by one game over Arizona and Seattle, the two teams they have already beaten. Sure they could and should be 3-0 but they sit in a respectable position nonetheless. With a home game this Sunday against the lowly St. Louis Rams all signs point to them moving to 3-1 and taking a commanding division lead.
I highly doubt that Sunday’s loss will determine the season, Singletary won’t allow it. With postgame locker room comments like; “You hold your head up! You do not need to put your head down for nobody! You hold your head up! You understand? You hold your head up, your shoulders back and let’s rock! OK?” and “We’ll see them again, in the playoffs!” we can surmise as much.
Regardless, I will always loathe Brett Favre!!!