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Sports Then and Now




Waiting For The Weekend: What’s Old Is New Again

Posted on August 21, 2009 by Dean Hybl

Waiting for the weekendWelcome to the “What’s old is new again” edition of Waiting for the Weekend.

Brett Favre Doesn’t Care, Why Should We?
If I’ve realized anything from this nagging Brett Favre saga it is that he really doesn’t care what people think of him.

Oh, I think he cared what people though of him 3-4 years ago when it looked like his career might end with him being benched and the Packers stinking up the NFL. And, I think he will care again someday when he is once and for all too old to legitimately play the game.

However, I think after the taste of success he had with the Packers in 2007 and the realization in his own mind that he is still good enough to play in the NFL, he has decided that playing the game – and doing it on his own terms – is more important to him than what others might think.

There is no question that Favre is a selfish SOB who has put himself above his team for years. Who knows, that may be one of the reasons he only won one Super Bowl for a Green Bay team that had as much talent as any team in the league for nearly half a dozen years.

But, the list of selfish players in the NFL is not exactly a short list. Heck, when you think about it, who among us wouldn’t want to be able to call our own shots in terms of when we will work, where we will work and how much we will get paid? It’s just that most of us aren’t valuable enough to a potential employer to be able to get away with it.

I’m still not completely sure how much of Favre’s repeated insistence that he was retired for good was real and how much was a smokescreen to allow him to wait until training camp was over. I personally don’t agree with Favre being able to sit out training camp and still walk through the door as the number one quarterback for a team he has never played for. However, if Brad Childress is willing to allow it, who am I to question his decisions?

Brett Favre just wants to play football.

Brett Favre just wants to play football.

I just think that even Brett Favre needs some time to get used to his new team and four weeks doesn’t really seem like it would be enough time. If Favre is able to come in at 40-years of age and have a good season and lead the team to the playoffs, then he has proven to be worth the deviation from the norm.

But, I can’t help but think back to the final Roger Clemens return with the New York Yankees when he orchestrated coming back at the end of May in 2007 and was paid a ridiculous amount of money for what amounted to 18 mediocre starts.

Like Favre, Clemens had spent several years setting the terms for his return and each time he showed he was still capable of producing. Then age finally caught up to him and he finished his career with a sub-par season (6-6, 4.18 ERA) and an awful showing (2.1 innings, three earned runs) in what proved to be his final major league appearance against Cleveland in the playoffs.

I just believe that at some point Favre is going to push the envelope too far and he is going to end up either playing so poorly that he will be benched or–and I think this is the more likely case–he will suffer a serious injury that will make the retirement decision for him.

Another Fresh Face at the PGA Championship

Before the PGA Championship I wrote my preview story about how the tournament has been the tournament with more “one hit wonders” than any of the other majors since World War II. I concluded my article by writing, “the long history of the PGA Championship seems to indicate that there is a pretty good chance that the player hoisting the championship trophy on Sunday will be experiencing the honor for the first (and probably only) time.”

Y.E. Yang is the 38th golfer since World War II to win his first major at the PGA Championships.

Y.E. Yang is the 38th golfer since World War II to win his first major at the PGA Championships.

Then for three days, the best player in the world and owner of 14 majors, Tiger Woods walked around Hazeltine acting like the championship was pre-destined to be his.

When he opened Sunday with a two-stroke lead, I don’t think anyone expected that Tiger would shoot a 75 and lose, especially not to a player with as little pedigree as Y.E. Yang.

Yet, when all was said and done, there was Yang making me look like I knew what I was talking about as he became the 38th player since WWII to claim his first major title at the PGA. Who wants to bet that at the end of the day he will also become the 28th of those players to win his only major at the PGA?

Has It Really Been 20 Years?
Twenty years ago I was interning in the Public Relations department of the Philadelphia Eagles. During the month of August, we were busy getting ready for the 1989 NFL season with training camp at West Chester University.

Other than our own preparation for the season, the issue that dominated nearly every conversation during that long-ago summer was the growing firestorm that was engulfing former Philadelphia Phillies’ star Pete Rose.

The story of Pete Rose dominated sports headlines 20 years ago.

The story of Pete Rose dominated sports headlines 20 years ago.

There had been accusations about his gambling on the game since before the season, but everyone thought they would eventually blow over. But they wouldn’t go away and then finally on August 24, 1989, Rose agreed to a lifetime ban with the potential for reinstatement after a year.

The general expectation was that there was probably some kind of “handshake agreement” that Rose would serve a year and then be let back in the game.

I was in Miami with the Eagles preparing for the final preseason game on September 1, 1989 when I heard the news that Commissioner Bart Giamatti had passed away from a heart attack.

Even now 20 years later, I distinctly remember hearing the news and immediately thinking that the stress of the Rose case had done him in and that this could dramatically change things for Rose.

As it turns out, 20 years later Rose is still waiting for reinstatement and while he has done a number of stupid things during the last 20 years that haven’t helped his cause, I still don’t think anything has been more damaging to his hope for reinstatement than the sudden death of Commissioner Giamatti.

I believe that both Fay Vincent, who replaced Giamatti and was adamant about not reinstating Rose, and Bud Selig have, in part, maintained the ban on Rose as a legacy to Giamatti.

So, should Rose be allowed back into baseball and thus allowed entry into the Hall of Fame?

The locker room at the old Veterans Stadium had a huge sign right at the entrance that stated in big bold letters that gambling on professional football games was against NFL rules.  Rose knew what he was doing was against the rules of the game, yet he did it anyway because he was Pete Rose and he figured he could get away with it.

That Rose is still banished from the game is a reminder to anyone who knowingly breaks the rules of any sport that they are not above the game. Whether it be gambling, performance enhancing drugs or anything else that threatens the integrity of the game, players know what they are doing is wrong and must be held accountable for their decisions.

Pete Rose may statistically be worthy of being in the Hall of Fame, but morally he is exactly where he belongs: on the outside looking in.

Birthdays
Each week we look at some current and former athletes who were born during the week.

Here are some notable sports figures born during this week:
August 21 – Wilt Chamberlain (1936), Archie Griffin (1954), John Wetteland (1966)
August 22 – Mel Hein (1909), Bill Parcells (1941), Diana Nyad (1949), Paul Molitor (1956)
August 23 – Sonny Jurgensen (1934), Julio Franco (1961), Kobe Bryant (1978)
August 24 – Cal Ripken Jr. (1960), Reggie Miller (1965), Tim Salmon (1968)
August 25 – Rollie Fingers (1946), Ron Heller (1962), Robert Horry (1970)
August 26 – Tom Heinsohn (1937), Myron Guyton (1967), Kelvin Cato (1974)
August 27 – Frank Leahy (1908), Bernhard Langer (1957), Jim Thome (1970)

You can read a new edition of Waiting for the Weekend every Friday.

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