Why The Media Loves Brett Favre

Why does Brett Favre have the undying support of so many members of the national media?

Why, despite a full decade of coming up short on the biggest stage, or throwing an ill-advised pass which is intercepted at the worst possible time, does the national media as a whole love and worship him, and certain people in that group find it nearly impossible to criticize him?

I’ll tell you why. It’s very simple actually. He treats them well, makes them feel special, and fills their notebooks. In fact, if an athlete wants to be adored by the press, he’d do well to study what Favre has done.  I’ll give you a few examples.

1) He spends extra time with the TV broadcast crew on Friday/Saturday.

When a broadcast crew is assigned a particular game, a portion of time is set aside for them to sit down and talk with a few key members of each team. It’s usually the quarterback, perhaps the head coach, and a few other players of note for that game. They come in, and talk for usually a set amount of time, say, 30 minutes or an hour. I’ve heard stories of Favre spending three hours in these sessions, to the point that the crew need to leave. He’ll just sit there and answer any question, shoot the breeze, spend as much time as they want. The broadcasters love this. Many players dread these sessions, and it probably comes across in those sessions. But Brett gives them all they want and more, so they’re going to praise him up and down during the telecast on Sunday.

2) He has media members over to his home, during and after the season.

This is another sly-but-calculated technique of Favre. Open up your home. Let the media see you away from the field. Feed them. The media loves to be fed. Let them sit on your couch and hang out with you. Let them see you interacting with your family, with your dog, mowing your lawn. This humanizes him even further to them. He’s no longer “Brett Favre, Star NFL QB” but now “Brett Favre, ordinary guy.” If someone invites you to their home, treats you nicely, are you then going to rip them in front of millions? You’re at least going to cushion your words of criticism.

3) He’ll text message them to make them feel special.

Wow…Brett Favre sent me a text message! He’s thinking of me! He’s my friend! Or maybe he’ll pick up the phone and tell you that he’s just sitting at home, watching American Idol while his daughter chases the dog all over the house. Humanizing. Personal. Not going to rip this guy.

4) He shows his emotions – freely.

Up or down, you know how Favre feels. Whether he’s celebrating on the field, or crying at the end of the season, his emotions are all out there for the world to see. In an era where athletes are “professional” and it’s just a job, and they don’t let the world inside, Favre lets it all out. That makes him something different to the media which craves this sort of thing. Favre also lets the media inside his personal life. He’s had some tragedy and tough times in his life – his painkiller addiction, his father’s death, his wife’s breast cancer. These incidents, sad as they are, are in no way unique among NFL players. Parents die, loved ones are sick, addictions are overcome all the time, but again many of today’s athletes are intensely private about these types of things. Favre isn’t. The media loves these stories of overcoming adversity, and just eat it up. They also remember these times later when he fails, and it tempers their criticism of him.  The press hates Bill Belichick for being robotic in press conferences following games – it gives them nothing to work with. Brett shares all that, and again, it makes him human to them. They love that.

5) His press conferences are long and “folksy.”

Favre is the master of the “aw shucks” persona during press conferences. These are usually marathon sessions in which he answers every possible question. He again does so in a “regular guy” manner getting verbose, and spinning new ways to spout the time-tested clichés of athlete press conferences. He is also an expert at making it look like he’s taking all the blame and none of the credit, when subtly, it is the exact opposite. He helps the media do their job. They’re going to then feel bad turning around and ripping him.

In addition to the above, he’s crafted his public image carefully as well by the endorsements he does. I can really just think of two current commercial series with him, and they both portray him in a certain way. The jeans commercial, where he’s playing touch football with his buddies in the back yard…”regular guy.” The commercial where he is trying to select a new TV and can’t make up his mind – a self-deprecating reference to his constant inability to make up his mind on his latest retirement. Likeable. Poking fun at himself.

I’m not blaming Favre for doing any of these things. In fact, you’ve got to admire how hard he works to keep the media on his side, and why it becomes so hard for many of them to come out and just rip him. As you can see, it isn’t rocket science, either. Treat people nicely, help them out wherever you can, make them feel special, and you’re going to instill irrevocable loyalty in them.

Don’t expect things to change this offseason, no matter what ultimately happens, and don’t expect it to stop after he retires, either. We’re stuck with him for a long time. He and the media enable each other.

  • http://[email protected] billy bob

    great post bruce

  • Tony

    You nailed it Mr. Allen.

    It’s all about how they’re treated by the subject they cover. Hence, their obsessive, round-the-clock hatred of all things Belichick (with a few exceptions), and their excuse-making for others who probably don’t deserve to have excuses made for them.

  • ben

    Can’t stand the guy but he pulls the highest TV ratings in the game which would indicate to some degree that the media is reacting to demand. Last night’s game was the highest rated conference championship in almost 15 years. His prime time appearances this year were similarly high and it appears that demand for each of his new jerseys is insatiable.

    • Scott

      ‘demand’ gets created quite often after the consumer has been beat silly with subtle or non-subtle suggestions as to what product they ought to be demanding.

  • Michael Gee

    Dear Bruce: Local media focus on home teams, with the individuals in the team leading characters in the ongoing story, but ultimately replaceable.
    National media focuses on individuals, or rather, easily communicated caricatures of individuals. Belichick has traits which are easily to negatively caricature, so that’s what happens (Coaches BTW are not necessarily unhappy to be portrayed as evil geniuses).
    Favre was smart and manipulative enough to create his own caricature and market it assiduously. In other words, he served his image up on a spoon for about 20 years. Very effective.
    Interceptions and all, he was also good enough to attract public interest all those years.
    That doesn’t make Joe Buck’s effusions of love any less irritating, but it’s how it happens.

  • doug gabriel

    awesome article Bruce – i honestly think i love you. i’ve been reading your site for years and as far as i’m concerned you and mike reiss are the only sane people in sports media. keep up the good work!!

  • Char

    Brilliant.

    Another thing at which Favre excells at is letting info “slip” about injuries, so he can get massive credit for playing hurt, without making it appear to be an excuse. So much better than Tom Brady saying things like “everybody’s playing hurt.”

  • Bullock

    Another factor is everyone loves a guy with heart. Much as the media adoration annoys me, the sight of an old man limping around the field trying to will his fumble-prone team reeked of a Disney movie starring Dennis Quaid. But honestly, it’s not a question of heart with Favre. It’s a matter of making DUMB decisions during a game’s most pivotal moments.

    Ergo, there’s no reason for the national media to open up the record books, look at a box score, and determine that in the last 13 years, when the game is on line the Ol’ Gunslinger throws a pick.

  • Bill C.

    Great post. I think the biggest reason is point 3.

    • Lance

      Yeah, makes you dislike the clueless Peter King even more. At least he fits in with the other lazy Boston sportswriters who feel it a right to have their stories spoon-fed to them.

      A regular Monday must read is Kissing Suzy Kolber’s take on King’s column.

  • mike b

    The criticism of Favre misses the point. It takes a boatload of talent and hard work just to be in position to fail on the big stage as often as he has. It’s like bitching about Larry Bird or Michael Jordan missing hundreds of game-winning shots in their careers. Had he not thrown that second pick, would we even be having this discussion? Of course not.

    Great players fail, too. Whether Favre treats the media with respect isn’t germane.

    • Doza

      His talent falls short of his media following.

      Also you comparison is a bit off. Favre’s career is primarily based on longevity. Sure he’s had some very good years, but if one stops and actually takes a good look at his numbers they fall short of the greats.

    • Classless

      Favre won his only Super Bowl because a kick returner had a record setting day. His next Super Bowl appearance, he was soundly outplayed by a greater QB.

      Since then, Favre has had a greatest hits package of epic failures the likes of which the NFL won’t ever see again. I thought his 6 INT game against Philly would never be topped, but then the flaming pick against the Giants happened. I never thought that would be topped, then last night he lived up (or down?) our expectations.

  • Jobin

    Hit the nail right on the head, Bruce. Even though I can’t stand the guy, a sick, twisted part of me sort of admires how manipulative he’s been with the media for his own benefit.

  • mandb97

    Completely off topic, I happened to make the cardinal sin of listening to Gary Tanguay for a few minutes. These are minutes I will never get back. Today, Chicken Little believes that Claude Julien should be fired from the Bruins. His reasoning is that when the team is not going well the coach should be fired. Right Gary, the injuries, the trading of the teams only true goal scorer without a replacement, the over paying of an older goalie has nothing to do with it. Earlier this year he said Francona should be fired. My guess is if he had no ties to the Celtics or Patriots then he would be whining for Rivers’ and Belichick’s firing as well because, let’s face facts, these teams are not as good as they have been. What a bonehead.

    • Classless

      Tanguay did the Celtics game tonight. It was abhorrent.

      • http://www.jonvssports.blogspot.com Jon

        But Scott Zolak and Fred Toucher’s reactions to Tanguay have been hilarious this morning. So it’s not all bad. I miss Gorman too.

  • heavy-duty

    Well said Bruce. Chris Mortenson is another one who orgasms over Favre. Right after the game ended yesterday, he tweeted about how Favre’s legacy is secure and the “Favre haters will be coming out of the bushes”. I mean, the blood was still wet and Mort was already defending Favre’s boneheaded pick. Maybe that’s why many fans like myself root for Favre to fail. I really thought when he scored that unnecessary TD against Dallas it showed his true colors; he’s all about the stats.

    • Classless

      Very well said Heavy Duty. Favre is Custer and the media are circling the wagons.

  • JC

    The question I’ve always wondered about, all these things Bruce rightly brings up … how much of this is contrived and how much is who Brett Favre really is? I suspect we’ll never really know, but I think it’s a hell of a question.

  • D-man

    JC, I think about that as well. I get the sense that Favre kind of likes schmoozing with the media. Certainly, a lot of them are closer to his age. But whether he likes it or not, it tends to be annoying to the quote, unquote, regular fans. Good post, Bruce.

  • tranemonk

    I completely agree… Great post.. As insufferable as Felger is he’s been right about this one for a long time…

    And I have to agree.. Tanguay on the Celtics broadcast was truly awful….
    God I miss Mike Gorman

  • kevin

    I would say reasons 1, 5 & 4 are the biggest factors. He is nice to them so they are inclined to be nice to him. If you need to fill up the page and he is one of the guys who makes that easier you probably are not going to want to burn that source.

    For me it is more the quantity of Farve stories and features than what they say. He is a good qb who gets talked about so often you would think he is great.

  • Paul

    The same reason the media likes Favre was the same reason the media ’round these parts liked Bledsoe and defended him when Brady was chosen over him.

  • Mike

    I can easily find the total opposite point of view. You ever watched Sports Reporters on ESPN? The have been ripping him for years. Peter King, Mortonson, ESPN, the guys who call the games who love him. I don’t see it anywhere else in the media. I see the total opposite. He got ripped a ton when he played for the Jets by the New York media.

    • Classless

      Then you don’t read Peter King or watch ESPN.

  • Steve

    Hey Bruce,

    I enjoyed reading your post. You and others seem to take great umbrage that Brett Favre is well liked by the people who cover football. Did it ever occur to you that maybe, just maybe, Favre is a good guy (a good ol’ boy actually) who enjoys talking to the press? All the points you made can be said about Johnny Damon when he was in Boston. He was a media darling, filled notebooks, was always on camera and at his locker, would talk to reporters in the offseason, etc. etc. Yet you never questioned all the fawning over Damon or his omnipresent nature. Was it because he was a Boston athlete? I’m just asking.

    Steve

  • Steve

    I’ll add two reasons why the media “loves” Brett Favre that Bruce failed to mention

    1. He’s a nice person.

    2. He’s one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

    It’s only natural for the media to be obsessed with him. Rest assure, if Brett Favre did something insane a la Tiger, his so-called buddies in the media would be critical of him.

    The national media loves Favre no more or less than a lot of the people on this board hate the media. It’s a two-way street, folks. You can’t kill the national media for fawning over Farve if you’re going to spew hatred toward the Boston media, otherwise you’re a hypocrite.

    • BSF34

      “1. He’s a nice person.”

      He’s a nice person TO THE MEDIA.

      “2. He’s one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.”

      I’ve been on this earth about 40 years and these are QBs I’ve seen in my lifetime that I’d definitely want playing for my favorite team over Favre…

      Montanna
      Peyton
      Brady
      Elway
      Marino
      Steve Young

      QBs I think you can make an argument for taking over Favre…

      Staubach
      Griese
      Tarkenton

      QBs I didn’t seen play in their primes but think those that did would probably take over Favre…

      Unitas
      Graham
      Starr

      So maybe Favre is borderline top 15 at best, IMHO.

      “It’s only natural for the media to be obsessed with him. Rest assure, if Brett Favre did something insane a la Tiger, his so-called buddies in the media would be critical of him.”

      Some of them yes but I don’t think all of them would, at least they’d defend him until the evidence was so overwhelming. Look at how ESPN handled the Tiger situation and the sexual assault chagre against Roethlisberger.

      “The national media loves Favre no more or less than a lot of the people on this board hate the media. It’s a two-way street, folks. You can’t kill the national media for fawning over Farve if you’re going to spew hatred toward the Boston media, otherwise you’re a hypocrite.”

      One has nothing to do with the other.
      They kept pushing the “Heroic Elen pulling Tiger out of his Escalade” for a good week or so, even when evidence had come out on just about every other news source that it wasn’t the case. They were also the last news outlet to report on the charges against Big Ben, saying something along the lines of “not reporting on civil cases”. Yet when those 2 photographers filed a civil complaint against Brady for allegedly getting shot at by his bodyguards at his wedding, ESPN put that story up the day it came out.

      • mike b

        Let’s for argument’s sake say you’re right about Favre being a “borderline top 15, at best.”

        Now keep in mind that every season there are roughly 90 QBs who suit up for NFL teams. Then calculate how many QBs have played pro football (I say “pro” and not “NFL,” since your list includes Otto Graham).

        Doesn’t being one of the top 15 ever mean something? Because that’s a hell of a lot of QBs you are beating out.

        You guys are criticizing Favre for what he’s not, instead of appreciating him for what he is. It’s a completely unnecessary (over)reaction, and it’s one that’s typical of the Boston media. Do we really want to make the same mistake they do?

  • KingLarry

    Brett Favre of lawn mowing fame is also a joyeur de soccer as the British say? … I haven’t seen such a two way talent since Norway’s Signur Magnusson won the Live pigeon shoot and 230 meter hurdle at the Aught-Eight Olympiad … If you need one quarterback to throw an interception to end a season, make that quarterback Brett Favre … There hasn’t been a hotter Viking since Leif Erikson was burning up the top 40 charts … He was made for dancin’ and so was new secret agent John Travolta in I Love Paris, the one must see movie of 2010 … CSI Las Vegas is still a very funny show … For all this concern about our government buying banks – don’t forget they already own the mints and do a good job … For my money, the Franklin Mint makes the finest dinnerware in the country …

  • Angry Old Bastard

    you nailed it…When it comes to the Sports media it’s ALL ABOUT THEM….That’s why their new binky is Rex Ryan…”oh!, he gives us such wonderful soundbites!!!” Why aren’t more NFL coaches like Ryan??”…..”Oh Rexy WE LOVE YOU!!”

  • BSF34

    Yest top 15 is great. The point is that many media types consider him top 3-5, which he is not IMHO. They also refuse to criticize him when he makes bone head plays. Look at Tom “He’s not afraid to throw an interception” Jackson ball-washing him after the game. Maybe if Brett had been afraid to throw INTs he might have more than one SB ring?

    The criticism in Bruce’s article and many who responded isn’t towards Favre, but it’s towards how the media treats him.

    • mike b

      Except that it is toward Favre, because if his excellence weren’t in doubt, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. This isn’t Tony Romo we are talking about; it’s Brett Favre, who holds just about NFL career passing record. I can’t help but think that if the ref throws the flag as he should have, the Vikes win and we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

  • mandb97

    I was just listening to the DA show on 98.5. He was playing clips from Felger and Mazz’s interview with Phil Simms whom I normally really enjoy. He basically sums up Bruce’s piece when he was asked about Farve. He said Farve is the greatest thrower of the football in NFL history. REALLY? I think Elway, Marino, Manning, Brady are just a few off the top of my head who are (were) better than Farve. DA then said it is just part of the national media’s overreaction to the career of Farve. Look I like Farve he did have a great season but please.

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