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Editor's column: When egos need to add a notch

August 21, 2010
By Per Peterson

If you heard a huge belching sound earlier this week, don't be frightened, it was just Brett Favre's Shrek-sized ego.

It's been fed. And with a full tummy, the inevitable happened: it burped, supposedly clearing space for some dessert, which more than likely will be served on a platter every weekend for the next five months.

We know it's satisfied now because we saw Favre on the practice field Wednesday, throwing footballs and running around like the kid he thinks he still is.

He can try to convince himself he's a kid all he wants, but the truth is kids don't have egos this impressive. Ol' gray beard is the latest pro athlete to use the media to satisfy the monster within, and those gluttonous egos are usually not easily satisfied.

This has become old hat for Favre, who has blazed an ugly trail of media manipulation for self-serving purposes.

Of course, he's not the only one.

LeBron James earlier this summer held the nation captive while trying to make up his mind what his plans are for the upcoming season. But James took it one big, sad step further when he teamed with ESPN for a one-hour primetime special dubbed "The Decision." ESPN gladly bent over backwards to make James happy; apparently both James and ESPN execs truly believed the entire nation cared about James' plans.

While James made up the rules to this game and brought it to a different level to appease his hot air balloon of an ego, Favre's just playing the game. He didn't go as far as James did, but then again he really didn't have to. ESPN?came to him. So did WCCO, which dusted off the traffic helicopter Tuesday to shoot rare, gripping footage of a jet sitting on a tarmac.

This was the meat and taters for Favre's ego, which had barely polished off the caviar appetizers ESPN threw at it during the days leading up to yuck the decision.

Favre is an easy target, as you can see, but this column, to be honest, reeks with hypocrisy. Who of us wouldn't pull the same shenanigans Favre has perfected the last three years if we were in his shoes? I know I would.

I know if I had millions of people dropping everything day after day to keep track of what my plans are, that if I were turned into a one-man soap opera and had my own website that was shut down because of high traffic volume, I would love every minute of it, too. My ego doesn't have the voracious appetite Favre's does, but it's an ego nonetheless. And egos grow when they're fed. Feeding them is like splashing water on one of those Gremlins; it can get out of control in a hurry.

Favre is living the life any 40-year-old man dreams of at night; probably during the day, too. We shake our heads at all the coverage because, let's be real, it is blown out of proportion, but at the same time we think to ourselves how wonderfully awesome it would be if three of our co-workers showed up at our million-dollar home, begging us to come back to work, even if our stipend was closer to $30,000 than $13 million. Most people love it when others make a fuss over them. Sure, there are those out there who would claim they're embarrassed by all the attention, but deep down it makes them feel good, it makes them feel wanted, and it makes them feel appreciated.

Favre, too, is surely flattered to know he's wanted and appreciated by a population of schmucks eagerly anticipating another run at a Super Bowl and itching to drop 70 clams on a No. 4 jersey, but he also knows he's needed by a certain professional football team that will belly laugh all the way to the bank with him now on board.

Favre knows that without him the Vikes are nothing more than a .500 team doomed for eternity in the Metrodome, a team that would've spent an entire season gently gliding their fingers over Favre's picture on their nightstand before bed as if he's that long-lost love who's now just lost, a team that would need to remind itself to remind us how much they believe in Tavaris Jackson and how lucky they are to have two other quarterbacks who they'll tell us - with a straight face, mind you - they believe can lead them to a Super Bowl.

But they can't and they won't and Favre knows it. That not only gives ol' gray beard leverage, it gives him power. And nothing feeds an ego like power.




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