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Brett Favre and the Jenn Sterger Text Messages: The 'Ick' Factor

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 11:  Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings walks off the field after the New York Jets won 29-20 at New Meadowlands Stadium on October 11, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Sam WilesContributor IOctober 12, 2010

Recently I’ve caught up on the short lived TV series Freaks and Geeks, which ran on NBC for one really good season about 10 years ago, and was made by Judd Apatow. In one midseason episode, the protagonist, a geek named Sam, finds out that his best friend Neal Schweiber’s Dad is having an affair. Neal’s dad seems like a really great guy in the beginning, and Sam is rocked by the scandal. He eventually tells Neal, and both boys have a tough time looking at Dr. Schweiber in the same way for the rest of the series.

I only bring up this really obscure bit of canceled television because that episode sums up exactly how I felt watching the coverage Monday of Brett Favre’s dirty texts. I felt like I had discovered my friend’s dad, who I thought was a really great guy, was a creep.

I had a similar feeling during the Tiger Woods scandal (a story that is a relevant point of comparison for obvious reasons). I personally cringed when I read the texts Tiger sent, or saw pictures of the women he was having affairs with. I admittedly avoided a lot of news about it. I didn’t like learning more about the extramarital activity of an athlete I had watched achieve great things. The media blitz had a real ‘ick’ factor.

But with Brett Favre, it’s worse.

While Tiger was a singular athlete in an individual sport, Brett Favre is on our favorite team, and has always been in our division. He’s been at our Thanksgivings. Where Tiger gave robotic responses to reporters’ questions, the old gunslinger shot from the hip. While Tiger was driven and cold, Favre was a little kid at heart, practically throwing the Nerf Vortex every Sunday to his school yard buddies. While Tiger was dominant, and had nerves of steel, Favre was emotive, and we emoted with him.

Tiger is our cool, older stepbrother. Favre is our dad.

Favre is as paternal as an athlete can get. For football fans my age (born in 1987 or later) he has always been present in our consciousness. I don’t remember being alive and not at least knowing the name Brett Favre. I remember his first Super Bowl win, his MVP and the Monday night game after his Dad died. A lot of us have genuinely emotional memories involving Favre.

All of these things make it infinitely more terrible to read that Favre most likely not only sent dirty texts to a woman that wasn’t his wife (who we also watched recover from cancer), but they were unwanted. He may have even left a lewd voicemail like he’s Pat O’Brien. The league is investigating whether or not he needs to be suspended for violating the league’s conduct policy. His streak of consecutive games won’t be broken because he suffered a physical lapse, but a moral one.

Watching Favre now struggle against the Jets on Monday night, I can’t help but think about another episode of Freaks and Geeks when Neal embarrasses his dad at a party on purpose. While it’s easy to root for the Vikings, it’s hard to root for Brett. I kind of keep hoping he gets hit a little harder, harassed a little more and maybe stops celebrating so much. I feel betrayed and I know it’s irrational. I feel the way a kid would feel.

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