Courage not quite enough for Favre

Jan 26, 2010 5:03 PM
Old Warrior overcame hits but not Saints

If New Orleans’ game plan last Sunday was to crush Brett Favre, they came close. The late hits were brutal, and not only uncalled for but uncalled by officials. Favre complained early at the strategy, then gave up and took the hits, 17 of them at last count.

He kept playing because he is one of the toughest hombres in the National Football League, and he played the last quarter on one ankle and with other pain. With his jersey hanging out and loose, he looked like the neighborhood kid beat up by the street bullies.

Some post game accounts blamed the Vikings loss on the very questionable overtime call on their Ben Leber for pass interference. The camera’s eye did not show it that way, although the booth decided otherwise, in favor of the Saints.

Others blamed a bobbled pass by the Saints Robert Meachem, which was a close call and went to New Orleans, the catch being called good and setting up the winning field goal.

The ultimate outcome came earlier, however, when Favre, battered and bruised throughout by defensive hulks seemingly intent on putting him out of action, got away with late hits but no calls for them.

The Vikings offensive line did not do an adequate job giving Favre protection, and he was not at his best even on plays where he had time, overthrowing his targets on a number of occasions.

It was sad to see him, close to tears at the end, lose a game he dearly wanted. This one would have been very, very special icing on his career cake, getting the Vikings to the Super Bowl and redeeming his decision to come out of retirement.

As it turned out, it probably would not have made much difference in the Super Bowl. With Peyton Manning continuing to rifle bullets, and guys like Pierre Garcon, with 11 catches and a touchdown last Sunday, and Austin Collie and Dallas Clark around to catch them, the Saints will have a very hard time this coming Sunday. Unless they take their assassination plot with them, and try to dismember Manning as they did Favre, they are in for a long and painful Super Bowl encounter. Manning still is the strongest and most accurate passer in football, and his early petulance is long gone. He is indeed the game’s most valuable player, and New Orleans is likely to find that out firsthand Feb. 7.

Switching gears, it had to be of interest, and a happy development for Vegas while a disastrous one for racing and breeding in the Bluegrass, to see political squabbling kill slots at tracks in Kentucky.

There is no question that slots and now table games in Pennsylvania and Delaware will keep more players from making the long trek west to enjoy the delights of Sin City, and it is reaching the point where every head counts. Now Kentucky can be scratched off the list.

The clash in wills and personalities and party line politics in Frankfort, the state capital, was an interesting gambit. The governor, Steve Beshear, had been opting for slots by statute. The president of the Senate, David Williams, did not, and wanted a statewide referendum for a constitutional amendment. That of course would take precious time, which is why the hurting track operators in the state would not take that route. That, and the chance of a loss from a vote in the outlying hills.

Williams could muster all the Republican troops, but that was not enough. He had 21 Republicans in solid support, but needed 23 to meet the majority requirement. Ed Worley, the Senate majority leader, had the math figured perfectly. He had introduced the governor’s bill, but when Janet Patton, the savvy business writer for the Lexington Herald-Leader, asked him if it would carry, he simply drew his hand across his throat. The bill had been referred to the Senate Appropriations and Revenue committee, and Worley told Patten, "Any bill that goes to A & R, normally that’s the writing on the wall." But he also told Patten the Senate president’s bill would stand no chance, and he was right. They play for keeps in Kentucky.

A recent news item said poultry had passed horses as Kentucky’s number one industry. Killing slots at tracks will help the hens in that contest, but it won’t help the colts and fillies raised or racing there.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Stan Bergstein