Favre sells, Minnesota benefits

Critics say Brett Favre is tarnishing his legacy by playing for the Vikings, but Favre became all the rage in Minnesota. His jersey was the top seller and his presence benefitted the franchise and the state. A final step in his legacy would push the critics over the brink and the franchise over the top.

The other day I did a Google search on "Brett Favre", which, I must admit, yields a much more intelligent series of stories than doing a Google search on "Brett Farve" – which supplies an unfortunate amount of material. Perhaps the strangest thing about Favre is that his name no longer has the red squiggly line underneath it.

The results of those searches are eye-opening to say the least. From sites I'm very familiar with to ones that don't even make sense, Favre is a national topic of discussion. He's an obsession. He has become the sports version of Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian. He doesn't do anything, yet he makes news. Loved by many, hated by some, it would seem very few people have a gray area when it comes to No. 4. One can only imagine how many children in Wisconsin are drinking formula out of a beer bottle that have been named Brett over the years. He was Wisconsin's version of Paul Bunyan. They haven't got over his leaving.

It seems the national (and local and obscure) media has a similar obsession with all things Brett. Last time I checked, he never announced his retirement. The third time is a charm. He knows that, which may explain why he hasn't done it yet. He wants to keep playing and, given the level he played at last year, he should. The writers, hacks and bloggists have called him everything from selfish to delusional. Keep in mind, most of those opinions are coming from people whose own dreams of professional sports stardom died in about junior high school. They say his legacy is being tarnished. That is bollox, but, as far as Minnesotans are concerned, let it keep tarnishing for at least another year or two.

The Vikings had a good team before Favre arrived, but selling out the Metrodome was far from a foregone conclusion. Once he showed up, the term "blackout" wasn't mentioned all year. His jersey sales topped the charts. All things Vikings flew off the shelves. Everyone wanted to associate themselves with the team after laying low for a few years. The funny thing about that? Everything sold in Minnesota came with a sales tax applied to it – something that wouldn't have happened had Favre not come the Vikings. He has created revenue for the state from the day Brad Childress donned his chauffeur's cap at the airport and took Brett to Winter Park. He has been a cash cow for the team and the state.

His anticipated return in 2010 could play a big part in Minnesota politicians understanding how much the Vikings mean to Minnesota. Fans got excited about Adrian Peterson joining the team. And Jared Allen. And Percy Harvin. But Favre kicked it up a notch – a big notch. Pundits can say Peterson or Allen or guys like Steve Hutchinson and Kevin Williams are potential Hall of Famers, but there's no questioning Favre's induction. First ballot unanimous. Period.

For the critics who say he is tarnishing his legacy, his legacy may have an important asterisk next to it. While history will remember him as a Packer, his time with the Vikings is at such a point of critical mass with the stadium and future of the organization at stake. If his role is helping the Vikings secure a new stadium and keep the NFL in Minnesota, that may be as big an accomplishment as winning a Super Bowl over the Patriots.

It may be years down the line, but there is sure to be a movie made on Favre's life – my suggested title is "The 40-Year-Old Version", the epic tale of an aging quarterback who leads the Vikings to the Lombardi Trophy that has eluded them for 50 years. If that is tarnishing his legacy, leave the good silver out in the rain and keep the tarnish coming.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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