Opinion: Circus isn't Favre, it's the media

Vikings fans have been riding an emotional roller coaster the last week, as media reports have gone from the signing of Brett Favre being all but certain to all but dead - without the benefit of a confirmation quote from any of the participants in this drama. While the media claims Favre coming to the Vikings would be a circus, it would seem the circus is being created by the media itself.

The saga that is the reported marriage of the Vikings and Brett Favre over the last week has been a lesson in how the media of the 21st Century operates and, if it is any indication, we may have had things better in the 20th Century.

This whole bizarre process began shortly after the draft when it was announced that Favre had asked for (and received) his release from the Jets. Having traded up to get Mark Sanchez with the fifth pick of the draft, the Jets had no more use for Favre, who potentially could have pulled the same stunt with the Jets that he did with the Packers a year earlier – come out of retirement, claim he wants to play and expect to be paid or released. The Jets took the quick, efficient way of doing things and simply granted his request.

A little over a week ago, Brad Childress addressed the media at the post-draft rookie minicamp and, when asked about Favre, in a rare moment of candor, said the Vikings might explore their options in pursuing the 39-year-old QB. That got the ball rolling and the media took it from there.

On Monday, news broke that the Vikings planned to sign Favre in time for the veteran minicamps and OTA sessions. The different sports TV networks trotted out their top insiders and all seemed to be in agreement that a deal was going to get done within days. This came despite no actual confirmation from either side that a deal was in place or even imminent.

That was followed up by Trent Dilfer being thrown under the bus by reporting that he text-messaged Favre to ask him about the possibility of him coming out of retirement and got a pretty clear message in return – it simply said "NO." Dilfer reported it as such and, for one day anyway, the matter seemed to be cleared up.

A day later, however, reports surfaced that the Vikings and Favre were communicating and that Childress was going to fly to Favre's home in Mississippi for a face-to-face discussion. This led newspapers in both Minnesota and Wisconsin to use their Photoshop skills to put Favre in a purple Vikings jersey on the front page of their sports sections and TV networks like ESPN to show the same set of Favre highlights as a member of the Jets throwing touchdown passes ad nauseum. Again, the talking heads said it was all but a done deal.

When word got out that Favre and Childress were going to meet Wednesday or Thursday, the media went into full hyperdrive. Both ESPN and the NFL Network staked out the Hattiesburg airport and Favre's home as if he was hosting a celebrity wedding and the local media staked out Winter Park. As reports claimed Childress was already in Mississippi, it proved incorrect when the coach was spotted heading into Winter Park Thursday morning. That created its own news, as the same talking heads who claimed the Favre-to-the-Vikings scenario was all but a done deal now did a complete 180-degree turn and claimed Favre was still retired and that the deal with the Vikings was now all but dead.

Keep in mind that all of these reports were made without confirmation from Favre, Childress, the Vikings or Favre's agent, Bus Cook. In fact, Cook has denied all of the claims of discussions, phone calls or meetings throughout the last week. At first, ESPN characterized the relationship between Favre and Cook as being akin to the role of mafia lawyer, someone who doesn't want to give out information until its necessary. It turns out, Cook may have been telling the truth that he hasn't been informed of any substantive interest between the two sides.

Unwilling to let a good story die, the latest revelations are that Favre has sent X-rays of his ailing right shoulder to the Vikings for their medical people to examine – another claim not confirmed by the Vikings or Favre. As it stands, the story is essentially back where it started.

For fans, the last week has been agonizing, especially for those who were convinced Favre would end up with the Vikings when the news initially broke. Different media outlets have run with tidbits they claim have come from inside sources with "knowledge of the situation." Apparently not all of those sources have been very accurate or credible with their knowledge.

The bottom line is that if the Vikings and Favre are to join up for the 2009 season, it likely won't happen immediately. But that won't stop the flow of information – both good intel and bad – from surfacing. The moral of this story is not to believe everything you read and only about half of what you see. Perhaps when one of the media stalkers gets a quote from Favre or Childress, then we can get our hopes up or have them dashed. But until then, the media is participating in an exercise in futility that only serves to make all of their members look bad.

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