By Jon Merckle
General George Patton was a great United States Army officer who had a great feel for the pattern of the battle. Any war historian can tell you on his leadership of commanding corps and armies during World War II throughout parts of North Africa and many parts of Europe. Patton’s military accomplishments are unparalleled. He was the youngest ever U.S. Army “Master of the Sword”, the 1st American to take a motor vehicle into combat, participated in dispersing the 1932 Bonus March and was an excellent transocean sailor.
But Patton was also a diva. He hated a lot of people. He had a flashy, distinctive image in the belief that this would motivate his troops. Patton was frequently seen wearing a polished helmet, riding pants and cavalry boots. He carried flashy silver-plated revolvers and drove vehicles carrying loud sirens. Patton’s words were also peppered with profanities. All of this was the hope that his toughness and character would motivate his troops in conditions of battle.
Remind you of someone?
Brett Favre’s “retirement” talk started September of 2002 when he said to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King… “I think about retirement a heck of a lot more than I used to… I miss home. I know it’s nuts but Mike Sherman told us today that he was giving us Saturday and Sunday off this week and the guys were all excited. All I could think was, I wish I could be on my lawn mower back home.” 2002 was a while ago. Enron and WorldCom went bankrupt, President Bush was only two years into the job with an approval rating north of 50%, Michael Jordan was playing for the Washington Wizards and Britney Spears seemed somewhat normal.
Since then Favre has butted heads with Ted Thompson and told the Packers/Jets/Vikings teams that he’s “retiring”. The most notable of which was a tear filled press conference that even us Vikings fans had mixed emotions over. Over the past three years he’s worked his way out of camp and into preseason while getting the “Itch” in August and a shoulder surgery or a bum ankle. It’s also bizarre how one minute he’s a down-to-earth Wrangler wearing good ole boy who was grilling steaks with Jared Allen, Steve Hutchinson and Ryan Longwell than the next minute he’s boarding Zygi Wilf’s private jet for the second August in a row.
But there’s one undeniable fact to both Patton and Favre: They make their troops better.
Without Favre in 2009 the Vikings don’t make the NFC Championship game, Sidney Rice is not a legit #1 WR, Childress doesn’t get an extension, Vikings fans are even more worried about not getting a stadium and it’s anyone’s guess as to how Adrian Peterson is holding up after another season of always seeing “8 in the box” flirting with 400 carries. Favre also proved to be a great teammate and studied game tape in Winter Park to the point he knew all of the nightly janitors names. Tavaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels would not throw 30 TDs per season or leading us deep into the playoffs. Insert Favre back into the picture for 2010 to witness the Vikings selling out every game and being in the mix of the upper echelon teams of the NFC with a legitimate shot at winning the Super Bowl.
And speaking of witness. A good friend said to me the following while watching “The Decision” on LeBron James going to the Heat: “Whenever you can get a player who’s capable of transforming an already good team instantly into a title contender, you tolerate the circus that comes along with it.” I don’t agree entirely with the George Pattons, LeBron James and Brett Favres of the world. But if winning on the battlefield for my country or winning a title for my favorite team comes with an annoying sideshow… That’s a guy I want wearing the right colors.