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.

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Championship Weekend Thoughts – Part I

I went through all the newspapers and online sites this morning, looking for interesting article. It was a decidedly uninspiring bunch.

Don’t believe me? You can look at CelticsLinks.com, or BruinsLinks.com or Red Sox Links or PatriotsLinks.com and see for yourself.

I do recommend checking out Chris Warner’s East-West Shrine Game Review. Last year’s game had Myron Pryor, Brian Hoyer and Sebastian Vollmer playing, who knows which future Patriots were on display?

There was quite a bit of debate heading into yesterday’s AFC championship game as to what team Patriots fans should root for. To me, it was easy. Many of my friends chose the Jets, figuring that they didn’t want to see the Colts creep closer to the Patriots in the Super Bowl tally.

I didn’t see it that way at all. The thought of two weeks of Rex Ryan and Bart Scott and Darrelle Revis and Fireman Ed left me queasy. As it is, I’m pretty sure we’re going to hear about the Jets all offseason, and I expect a lot of third place predictions for the Patriots in the AFC East come August. The Jets are the next dynasty. Get ready for it.

I chose to root for the Colts because nothing they do will take away from what the Patriots have accomplished already. I frankly don’t care about the comparisons. I will say I enjoy watching the Colts when they are not playing the Patriots. How can you not? Peyton Manning has almost completely transformed his postseason, big game image and reputation. You have to respect him for that.

He’s come so far that I’ve almost started viewing he and the Colts like those mid-to-late 90’s Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls teams. I’ve always been a die-hard Celtics fan, and perhaps because if the team was actually competitive during that time I might’ve felt different, but I enjoyed watching the Bulls dispatch whomever the latest and greatest challenger was, be it the Trail Blazers, the Sonics, the Jazz, the Knicks, the Pacers, the Heat, whomever.

The New York Jets beat the Bengals and the Chargers…not exactly two proven postseason winners, and suddenly the entire national media was jumping on their bandwagon. The New York papers, a couple of which pretty much ignored the Jets the entire season, suddenly had Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez as their cover boys. Sanchez was pretty good yesterday, but for most of his rookie season he’s been closer to JaMarcus Russell than to Peyton Manning.

So with all that, there was a certain satisfaction in seeing Manning and the Colts coldly, precisely pick apart the Jets, especially in the second half. It was enjoyable.

Make no mistake though, I’ll be rooting against the Colts in two weeks.

In the second game, the choice was much easier. Saints all the way. A franchise that has never been to the Super Bowl, a city that has been through way too much the past decade, and a team with a style of play that is fun to watch. Plus there was the Brett Favre factor.

Had Favre made it to the Super Bowl, ESPN might’ve just imploded in upon itself with all the hype for the next two weeks. It didn’t matter which AFC team was in. If it was the Jets, you’d get two weeks of Rex Ryan coupled with Favre, plus the “rookie QB vs the 40-year-old QB.” With the Colts it would be all Peyton vs Brett – two good ol’ Southern boys who love to sling it.

Just thank the man upstairs that it didn’t happen that way.

Favre, as we know, reverted to form at the exact moment you would’ve expected him to. The biggest moment. A moment in which he did not need to throw the ball, but not only threw it, but tried to force it across his body, which resulted in an interception. Yes, he wasn’t the only one at fault. The Vikings had a lot of goats yesterday, but they were still in position to attempt a field goal that could’ve sent them to the Super Bowl but instead ended up going to OT.

Despite the pick, you’re still going to hear plenty of Favre love from the media. Why?

That will be the subject of the second post today, coming at about noon….

Glenn Ordway Tries To Clear The Air

Since the announcement on Wednesday that Pete Sheppard was being let go from WEEI due to economic issues there has been a lot of questioning and speculation about what the “real” reason for the move was.

I did it here at BSMW. Chad Finn (sort of) did it in the Globe this morning. Other sites and messageboards have been doing it.

When the Big Show opened this afternoon, Glenn Ordway attempted to set the record straight, and very seriously said that it was solely due to the economy. He even said he could understand why people might be skeptical because of gags that they’ve done in the past. (Such as Mike Adams “locking himself in the studio.”)

It was unlike Ordway, as he didn’t take shots at those of us who have been wondering about the episode, just stated repeated that this is just a product of the economy and while WEEI has done better than a lot of companies in terms of not having to make large-scale cuts, they haven’t been immune from the effects of the economic downturn.

He seemed sincere, and while we know Ordway is an actor, and in the entertainment business, I guess I’ll take him at his word. (That weasel Jason Wolfe is another matter, however.)

But even with that, I still don’t think Curt Schilling left WEEI entirely because of the Sheppard layoff.

Jason Bay Speaks – And Other Top Links

 Some interesting links out there this morning, as we get ready for championship weekend.

What happened with Jason Bay and the Red Sox – Rob Bradford has Jason Bay breaking his silence on what went wrong with his negotiations with the Red Sox. He and the Red Sox did reach agreement on a new contract back in July, but the team backed out after his physical.

‘Big’ support for ex-WEEI yakker – Jessica Heslam has Pete Sheppard getting plenty of support, and hoping that a gig on 98.5FM might be in his future. The Curt Schilling/WEEI falling out has to be more than just about Sheppard, doesn’t it? Jason Wolfe takes a shot at the ex-Red Sox pitcher in this piece.

Burns sends Sox to extra innings – Chad Finn has filmmaker Ken Burns asking fans to send in their photos and memories of the Red Sox 2004 run to the World Series to him for his sequel to his 1994 PBS documentary “Baseball.”

Herzlich back at BC practice – Jimmy Golen of the AP has the heartwarming account of Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich getting back on the football field after battling Ewing’s Sarcoma.

Blue Jackets stick it to Bruins – Danny Picard reports on the Bruins 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets last night at the Garden.

Savard plays waiting game – Fluto Shinzawa’s notebook has Marc Savard getting closer to a return.

Season of intrigue for Beckett – Gordon Edes says that Josh Beckett could have a new deal this spring, or he could be trade fodder by midseason.

Garnett being counted on to inject life in listless Celtics – Robert Lee has the Celtics eagerly anticipating the return of Kevin Garnett, scheduled for tonight.

New England Ties Run Rampant Through Remaning Super Bowl Contenders – Jeff Howe looks at the numerous area connections on each of the four remaining playoff teams.

NFL prospect keeps eye on homeland – Mike Reiss with a piece on UMass offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse, a native of Haiti, who is living a dream in the U.S., but hasn’t forgotten where his journey began.

Week Log: From Road Runner To Coyote Across Boston Sports

Moving from season to season is becoming a bit like an episode of The Road Runner and we the fans got stuck with the part of Wile E. Coyote. First, anemic bats and a Jonathan Papelbon collapse fell on our heads like a giant boulder, causing the thin overhang of a Patriots season to dislodge and drop us onto the roadbed of football mediocrity, where the B’s and C’s are the 18-wheeler bearing down on us on their way to a spring disaster. It sure didn’t seem that long ago when we were the Road Runner, but Jerry Thornton says we’ve been stumbling around of late like Martha Coakley supporters wondering how it all went so bad so fast.

Celtics

Right now, the C’s look like the bigger wreck, going 4-8 over the last twelve after turning an 8-point halftime lead into a 6-point defeat at the hands of the Pistons last night. Celtics Green remembers a not-too-distant past when things used to be the other way around in the second half. Even before a 21-13 meltdown in Motown, Rich Levine had the tables fully turned on the C’s third quarter performances this year. ESPN Boston’s Celtics Blog has the C’s getting flustered by the Pistons’ second-half zone defense.

Celtics Town says Rajon Rondo lacked some much-needed aggression in Monday’s home loss to the Mavericks. Evans Clinchy has the C’s once again in crisis mode looking for backup for Rondo. Speaking of which, this stretch has made Red’s Army rethink their position that Nate Robinson would be a detriment to team chemistry.

LOSCY takes a pictoral look back on the underachieving 1-3 week (does that Nets win really count?) that was. Lex Nihil Novi isn’t concerned about anything that happens in the first 65 games. North Station Sports doesn’t want Kevin Garnett rushed back since there will be no banners to hang without him healthy, but Banner 18? is looking for some electricity produced by his quick return to the lineup tomorrow night. Celtics Life acknowledges KG will never be fully healed, but 85% should be good enough for a banner.

Gino’s Jungle is now choking on the words they used to describe how good Perk’s defense is . . . errrr, was. 4 Sport Boston is frustrated with Rasheed Wallace at the moment but anticipates a turnaround in their attitude by season’s end. Big Baby Davis may only be part of the problem, but CelticsBlog recounts an impressive arsenal of episodes – including last night’s heckler-bashing – that have earned him an appropriate nickname. Green Street tracks the evolution of sharpshooter Eddie House.

Bee-beep.

Bruins

Homecoming after an unopportunistic 1-1-1 California swing was less than stellar this MLK Day, as the B’s went down hard to an Ottawa Senators team they’ve owned. Hockey Independent thinks it’s shameful how the B’s and fans left Tim Thomas hanging on Monday, and advises caution to those jumping on the Tuukka Rask bandwagon. The Hub Of Hockey plays the ‘E’ card in excusing the B’s 5-1 loss to the Senators. However, ESPN Boston’s Bruins Blog is allowing for no excuses with the B’s play coming off the West Coast. Big Bad Blog says not all of this swoon can be blamed on injuries and schedule quirks. Despite flatlining on Monday, Kathryn Tappen says the Black & Gold have more positives than negatives ahead, starting with a two-week Olympics break.

There was one noteworthy accomplishment over the week, as we’ve now been able to attach a face to the B’s problems this season: it belongs to Dennis Wideman. Following his coach’s call-out yesterday, James Murphy says it’s now or never for the beleaguered defenseman to step up. Joe Haggerty calls Wideman a poster child for the B’s paralyzing inconsistency this year. Bruins Blog thinks Wideman needs to stay on the ice for some extra work.

Rink Rap debates whether Peter Chiarelli can pull the ultimate trigger and trade Wideman, who was once a centerpiece acquisition in the GM’s rebuilding program. A day after knocking Ilya Kovalchuk as a trade deadline target, Something’s Bruin says Martin St. Louis is more needed and a better bargain.

Finally, Stanley Cup Of Chowder examines the intricacies of Rask’s Winter Classic mask with its designer – right down to the shredded pinstriped jersey.

Red Sox

Despite the lack of a duck boat parade for two years now, Eric Ortiz thinks the Sox couldn’t have a better leader than Terry Francona.

We’ll start with a few early looks up and down the system. Fenway West examines the Achilles’ heels of the Sox rotation. Full Count has the Mariners’ lock-up of ace Felix Hernandez making Theo’s signing of John Lackey look even better. Boston Blood Sox has the media machine at Yawkey Way making the Jason Bay departure look even better.

Bee-friggin’-beep.

The Bottom Line considers the optimal holding period for Jonathan Papelbon. Although the fans still have a muted love for Paps, Red Sox Monster sees Daniel Bard as the shiny new car in the garage. Fire Brand Of The American League puts a price on the heads of the Sox’ top two prospects – Ryan Westmoreland and Casey Kelly. ESPN Boston’s Red Sox Blog is deep in pitching depth down on the farm.

Better Red Than Dead charts a legacy of Sox Hall-of-Famers that makes the Yankees look like pikers. That legacy now includes Andre Dawson (okay, just barely!), although Sports Central doesn’t know what took them so long.

And never mind healthcare reform, as Boston Sports Blog seems to suggest Massachusetts voters went too far in bouncing Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley for her gaff over Curt Schiling’s Yankee allegiance. Boston Dirt Dogs sees a parallel between the Coakley campaign and the Yankees . . . the 2004 Yankees. The Faster Times says Coakley has learned that messing with a Boston sports legend is much worse than messing up his name. WSJ’s The Count calls it the Curse of the Red Sox Gaffe.

The Meat

Schilling may not be aligned with the Yankees, but he apparently is to former WEEI flash guy Pete Sheppard. Surviving Grady has Curt boycotting the station until Sheppard is rehired and also taking back his 38 Pitches blog. Mass Hysteria hopes Sheppard lands on his feet somewhere . . . far from Boston. The Crowe’s Nest says yesterday’s Whiner Line was a classic send-off for Sheppard.

It’s good to bring in some fresh faces. This week, ten blogs got their inaugural linkage here on Week Log, and there’ll be more in the weeks to come as we start up a new MLB season. I could use your help in discovering new blood. E-mail me at bob02878@yahoo.com, tweet me @BobEks, or befriend me on Facebook.

Questions on the Pete Sheppard Layoff

Entercom/WEEI is insisting that yesterday’s announcement about the departure of Pete Sheppard is strictly for economic reasons, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the timing and details of this announcement.

Why on a Wednesday? Couldn’t get through until Friday? Couldn’t have done it last Friday before a three-day weekend?

If this move was solely economic, this was the best way they could cut costs? Why not cut the Mike Adams show altogether and just go with ESPN programming at night? How about firing Adams and giving Sheppard that spot?

If it was strictly economic, why is Curt Schilling so ticked off? He said yesterday he wouldn’t be on the WEEI airwaves until Pete was rehired, and has moved his 38Pitches Blog off of WEEI.com and back to its original domain.

The Entercom release wording seems rather final. The standard policy for WEEI is that once you leave, you’re dead. You never get mentioned again. A few who been announced as no longer being employed there, such as Bob Neumeier and Larry Johnson (after the Mustard and Johnson show was cancelled) have been back on the WEEI airwaves. It doesn’t seem like they’re expected to have Sheppard back on.  

He signed his last contract in May of 2007. The article quoted below in 2008 stated that Sheppard had two more years remaining on his contract, which would have it ending in May of this year. Is he getting paid the rest of the contract? If so, why release him now? To allow him to find another job with a few months of pay still coming?

Was he flirting with 98.5 for the role that Andy Gresh was eventually hired for and Entercom got wind of it?

Will he show up in another market? In a column written by Eric Rueb in the summer of 2008 for the Narragansett Times, Sheppard talked about his future –

As each year goes by, Sheppard makes a bigger name for himself without having his own show.

He’s a second banana – a big one at that – on the Big Show, where he fills in for host Glenn Ordway when Ordway is sick or on vacation. He’s in the second year of his contract and has two more years left on it and it wouldn’t be shocking if a bigger market or even satellite looked to give The Meatman his own show.

Whether Sheppard could take that offer is another question. “I could go outside the state or the region and be OK, but it just plays to my strengths. I wouldn’t have the same passion going to Chicago and talking about the Bears and White Sox or Cubs. It just wouldn’t be the same,” Sheppard said. “But like anything else in this business or anything in this business and a lot of other businesses, you’re only as good as your last contract. The ratings have been good at the station, but there’s always a possibility but you have to have leverage. If there’s somebody else that wants me or there’s a bidding war, that’s nice, I don’t expect it.

“Let’s put it this way – I expect myself at ’EEI for a long time.”

So what’s next? Will be end up at 98.5? Chad Finn’s column this morning had WBZ-FM program manager Mike Thomas saying that he had not been in contact with Sheppard, and that they currently had a full staff.

Does he wind up at another Entercom station trying to create their own version of The Big Show? Does he end up in Jacksonville talking NASCAR?

Wow, that’s why too much time spent wondering about Pete Sheppard, but yesterday’s news resulted in the biggest day, traffic-wise for BSMW in months. Apparently people are interested in the fate of an afternoon sports radio flash guy.

Celtics Zone Out In Detroit

Julian Benbow has the Pistons taking it to the Celtic in the fourth quarter and handing Boston a 92-86 road loss. Mark Murphy has the Celtics losing their third straight game in ugly fashion. A. Sherrod Blakely has the Celtics with another second-half collapse. Jessica Camerato has the Celtics unable to stay focused for the full 48. 

Murphy has Glen Davis bent out of shape by a heckler last night and responding with an obscene epithet that may result in discipline from the league office.

Gary Washburn says that something needs to change with the Celtics, either on the court or on the roster. Murphy has Rivers saying he knows nothing about a proposed Nate Robinson deal.

Murphy’s notebook has Garnett feeling good the day after his first full practice. The Globe notebook has more on the Davis incident. Blakely’s notebook has more details on the incident with the heckler.

Red Sox

The Red Sox held their rookie program at Boston College yesterday and Cuban shortstop Jose Iglesias was the star of the show.

Peter Abraham has the Cuban seeing snow for the first time in his life last week. John Tomase says that the lessons are coming fast and furious for Iglesias. Daniel Barbarisi says that seeing Iglesias was a glimpse of the Red Sox future. Mike Fine has the rookies getting a taste of baseball-mad Boston. Brian MacPherson has Iglesias with an eye on the majors. Sean McAdam has the rookies being welcomed to Boston.

Alex Speier has a look at Casey Kelly.

Misc

Stephen Harris has Bruins coach Claude Julien slamming defenseman Dennis Wideman yesterday.

Mike Loftus says that the Bruins are lacking in intensity.

Michael Vega has a look at Colts linebacker Gary Brackett. A free agent to-be, Brackett would look great here.

Chad Finn has a little more on Pete Sheppard position being eliminated at WEEI.

I’d prefer the hosts at WEEI just didn’t talk politics at all.