Favre And The Usual Drama This NFL Season

For many, the countdown to the start of a new NFL season begins the second after the final whistle blows in the Super Bowl. For the rest of us, football may be only as appetizing as the seven-layer dip we get to eat while watching TV. Guest host Rachel Martin previews the season with Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise, including the return of quarterback Brett Favre to the Minnesota Vikings.

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(Soundbite of theme music, "Monday Night Football")

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

Ah, the sound of America's favorite fall festivity, the beginning of football season. For many, the countdown to the start of a new NFL season begins the second after the final whistle blows in the Super Bowl the season before. For the rest of us, football may be only as appetizing as the seven layer dip we get to eat while watching it on TV.

But even if you don't spend your free time strategizing about your fantasy football team, I can guarantee you that our next guest will make you care about football, and understand it as a window into our very humanity.

No pressure, Mike.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Mike Wise is a sports columnist with The Washington Post and he joins me now in the studio to tell us everything we need to know about the upcoming NFL season. Thanks for coming in.

Mr. MIKE WISE (Sports Columnist, The Washington Post): Thank you, Rachel.

MARTIN: So everyone is talking about this: What is the problem with Bret Favre? Minnesota Vikings' quarterback, once beloved, then maligned, now apparently beloved again. Whats the latest?

Mr. WISE: Well, a lot people feel like he should just be hanging out in a Wrangler jean commercial and that should be the rest of his days. And other people feel like he's still got something left.

Either way, he's gone from what I would say this John Wayne, almost legendary character that, you know, was almost Indiana Jones on a football field; he'd pull himself out of crazy circumstances and he'd win games, to almost a diva, an off-season diva where he doesn't decide whether he's going to play or not and he puts the whole franchise in limbo and he makes young quarterbacks go, oh my gosh, Brett Favre might take my playing time. And he's gone from hayseed to diva. And the hayseed was fun; diva's not so fun.

MARTIN: So, just for people who aren't aware of the latest machinations in all of this drama, is he back?

Mr. WISE: Yes. Three of his teammates from Minnesota flew down to Mississippi to convince Brett Favre to play this season. They flew back on the flight with him. Brett Favre is now a part of the Minnesota Vikings and he will be part of the NFL season, and I can't wait to watch. I just don't want any of the offseason drama.

MARTIN: Do you think his teammates are upset with him?

Mr. WISE: No. I think they're actually - realize that they've got probably a small window to win a Super Bowl, and this has become a bigger holy grail than winning an NCAA title or anything in this country. And now they're thinking to themselves: Brett Favre might be our last shot. We don't believe in the quarterbacks that are here, so we're going to take a guy that's soon to be 41 years old, prop him up like "Weekend at Bernie's" and see if he can throw a couple touchdowns.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: So, let's talk a little bit about the upcoming season. Last year, it was all about the New Orleans Saints, Drew Brees - good guy, good family guy, upstanding model citizen. Is this a team that's going to be able to do this again or is this a one-off?

Mr. WISE: Well, the story of post-Katrina New Orleans and how it rallied around the Saints, I'm always a sucker for team lifting up town stories. I think sometimes we make too much of that, as Tom Izzo, the Michigan State coach, said during the NCAA Final Four: you know, we might be playing in the national championship game but we did not save any jobs at GM today.

But I do think there was something down there post-Katrina that the Saints and that community rose up around that team and it became the great story in the NFL. I wouldn't be surprised if they repeated. I'm not saying they're going to because they did lose some people. I wouldn't be shocked if they did repeat. And I say that because the NFL, one of the other things about that league that everybody latches onto this time of year is your team, with the exception of a very few teams in this league - Buffalo maybe, Tampa Bay, couple of - Detroit Lions - your team has a shot.

You can't say that in baseball. Once the season starts in baseball, you can look at the highest payroll teams and a few other dark horses and that's it. You can do that in the NBA. I can tell you next year who's going to be the four top NBA teams probably coming into the season and one of them is going to win a title.

MARTIN: That's not very fun.

Mr. WISE: No, it's not, and that's why the NFL has got us right where they -they've hooked us in. It's like they're a reality series every day, every weekend, and they can tell you, wow, if your team's 4-4 at the break, it doesn't matter. You still have a shot to win it all. And I think that's where the imagination literally overwhelms any stories about the individual or any off-season stories that would get in the way of your team.

MARTIN: Thanks very much for coming in, Mike. We appreciate it.

Mr. WISE: You're welcome, Rachel.

MARTIN: Mike Wise is a Washington Post sports columnist. He also hosts a daily sports talk radio show on WJFK here in Washington, D.C. We appreciate it.

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