Down on the Farm -- Favre and fun
Good grief, Brett Favre is fun to watch when he's on your side.
The Vikings are loaded with talent, but in football all the talent in the world can waste away without an on-field leader to pull it together.
Favre was the final piece to the puzzle, or so he has been for the first half of a very fun Vikings' season.
I am not much of a football fan. I quit watching the Vikings when they traded Randy Moss.
For me to watch a football game, there has to be a player or two on the field with some moxie, that magic mix of charisma and talent that makes you stick around for the next act.
Moss had moxie. So does Favre.
As a game, football has several drawbacks.
Football fields are all identical, a rectangle of turf marked up like a slide rule and every bit as charming.
Successful football coaches tend to be obsessed, hard-driving personalities who sleep in their office, kind of like the CEOs of high-tech companies.
A football team is the size of a small battalion. Getting all the parts to work in unison, from the 375-pound behemoths to the tender-egoed quarterbacks requires a corporate mindset.
The head coach can only do so much, so he hires a vice-coach for offense, a vice-coach for defense, an assistant vice-coach for quarterbacks, another for running backs, yet another for kickers, and, just as importantly, a staff of medics to pick the body parts off the field and stuff them back in place in time for the second half.
Having delegated training, preparation and execution to everybody else, the head coach has little to do but stand on the sideline and scream in frustration for three hours.
The game itself lurches ahead for a few seconds and then goes into a stall when the network needs to sell Cialis, or when a coach files an appeal to have a judgement overturned, or when somebody loses a body part, or when a great play is called back because somebody violated the neutral zone.
"Violating the neutral zone" sounds to me like something that would happen in Korea which would require a long meeting of the UN Security Council.
The problem for the casual fan arises when all this bureaucracy eliminates the fun of the game and you feel more like you're watching GM battle Ford for market share than you are watching a game that was originally played by kids.
The Vikings for the past few years have been operating like many football teams: As a corporate machine. Get the parts in place, results will follow.
If the balance sheet looks bad, you just adjust the machine. We need a new part. We need a new strategy. We need to adjust the vision statement. Some football companies even bring their players on touchy-feely corporate style retreats!
So, the Vikings, owned by corporate moguls who know how to make a balance sheet tilt in their favor, had some good parts in place. But even with monster talents like Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen, the team lacked an on-field general with the panache to pull it all together.
In steps Brett Favre. To Favre, football is first a game, second a game, third a game, fourth a business. He knows the tactical stuff. He tolerates orders from the vice-president of offense.
But when he steps on the field, Favre tucks all the technical stuff into the back of his mind and plays football with the joy of a sixth grader on the playground.
Old enough to know the importance of being adult, Favre also knows when to act like a kid. He laughs on the field. He jumps up and down. He throws his arms in the air after good plays. He cries after a big win.
When Favre fails, you can tell he's already planning the next set of downs. No tantrums, no screaming at teammates, no arguing with the coach. Over the years, he's learned class.
Favre knows that even if you are loaded with talent and have done all your homework, the only way to win is to relax and have fun.