"Favre a shoo-in for Survivor-Up North?"
"No interest in commissioner position: Favre"
These headlines are no flimsier than today's print, broadcast and Internet stories regarding a Brett Favre trade.
"Favre Says Trade Unlikely" read a wire story in my local paper (headlines are typically written by the local desks, not the reporters). That hints at a lot of space to fill and a less-than-compelling Packer storyline with which to fill it. The headline itself legitimizes the "trade" as if it were something tangible. With Aaron Rodgers still a huge question mark, trading Favre would give the Packers instability on every single level, except, of course, long snapper. So this "trade" is not going to happen. More importantly, it never was.
Still, Favre sits back and entertains the press corps with a respectful answer. He doesn't get enough credit for the thousands of questions like this that he's answered and reanswered over the years. On the rare occasions he does snap, then that makes news.
Favre is certainly frank enough to be interesting, which makes for a great Sunday Night Conversation or Costas Now piece. But like most often-interviewed athletes, at least the smart ones, Favre has also perfected the art of the non-answer.
For instance, when asked about the possibility of a trade, Favre said, "Well, first of all, I don't ever foresee that happening. And would I go? I don't think so. I really don't."
Favre did not tell us anything we didn't already know. That's a diplomatic way of saying "why did you ask me that?"
He's had plenty of practice, thanks to retirement talk which started soon after his 30th birthday. Do some sportswriters have their own version of a biological clock? Somehow, someone was compelled to ask a completely healthy, happy, winning QB with an amazing work ethic if he was contemplating quitting. Sure, why not? Just asking it once isn't enough, of course, because in a press conference a question isn't a question unless it's rephrased at least three times.
On Favre's list of pros and cons about returning this season, I'm sure that "enduring millions of questions about my retirement" was pretty high up on the negative side.
Now that most reporters probably know better than to ask – this either is Favre's last season or it isn't, next question please – someone has to come up with an alternative. The football side of the story isn't any help. Getting blasted by the Bears and blowing an early lead to the Saints are not events that fans want to relive.
So reporters are forced to look outside the white lines for topics. Today it was a non-existent trade. Tomorrow, who knows? I guess you can't really blame people for trying, after all, it's their job. But if an answer is a non-answer, then the story is a non-story.
There might be something to that gubernatorial bid, however. Jesse Ventura did OK in Minnesota, and pro wrestling isn't even a real sport.
Laura Veras Marran
Editor's Note: Laura Veras Marran is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail her at email@example.com.