Favre, Peyton bring Midwest Sports into National Focus Part 1

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By Paul M. Banks

Brett Favre’s incessant media circus and Peyton Manning’s undefeated Colts have put national spotlight on the Midwest, I discuss this and the future of sports media with Midwest Sports Fans.com’s Jerod Morris.

(PMB) Last weekend, I was at a party and referred to ESPN as Eastern Seaboard Programming Network, as I always do. Someone said to me non-jokingly, “Is that what it really stands for?” And with the non-stop emphasis on New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox, Duke-North Carolina and the unhealthy man-crush that they (along with seemingly every other journalist in this country) seems to have on Florida QB Tim Tebow, I do wonder if it’s literally true.

Of course, they also unjustifiably blanket teams like USC and Notre Dame which appeal to large numbers of frat boy front-runner types who don’t really like sports, but pretend to. Your thoughts on bias, East Coast or otherwise?duke_vitale

(JM) By now I think it is pretty clear to everyone that a strong bias exists not just at ESPN but at all major television networks; and the bias can be boiled down into one nice, neat, tidy word: ratings.

ESPN is no longer just the upstart underdog from Bristol. They are now a Disney-owned, worldwide conglomerate with serious stakeholders to answer to. No longer can they be “every sports persons’ network”; rather, they must be “every sports plurality’s network”, and by this I mean that they must, in the majority of cases, broadcast whatever they can get their hands on in each time slot that will drive the highest ratings.

We can bitch about it all we want (and we do!) but Yankees-Red Sox will always drive more viewers than White Sox-Twins, no matter how good the teams are. Duke-North Carolina will always drive more visitors than a game for first place in the Big Ten between Michigan State and Purdue. It is what it is. And it just so happens that most of the ratings drivers are East Coast-based teams and the majority of the country is on Central or Eastern time.

I would think that by now sports fans would be conditioned to the reality that sports is a business. We hear the athletes say it all the time, and I think that despite our frustrations we have to understand that the same is true for those who broadcast them.

And if we don’t like it, there’s always the Big Ten Network!erinandrewswis

(PMB) As polarizing a figure as Brett Favre is, and he’s certainly done a few things to warrant that hatred people have of him, he made the 1600lb. gorilla in the sports media room ESPN focus on the upper midwest, Wisconsin and Minnesota particularly, and that never happens. Was this a good thing for Midwestern sports fans? Not just for your site, but also actual people who can legitimately be described with this designation?

(JM) I guess it depends on whether you were in Minnesota or Wisconsin.

It has been great for Minnesota. Not only has Brett Favre’s arrival created more excitement in the city, but the team has a serious shot to be playing playoff games at home and possibly even go to a Super Bowl. And think about how much revenue was generated just from the reporters being dispatched to the Twin Cities to cover the Favre saga. I may stereotyping here, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most sports reporters can eat; the restaurants were no doubt pleased.

Wisconsin, on the other hand, lost one of their favorite sports idols to a rival. So they couldn’t be too happy and it’s doubtful they see it as a “good thing”.

In all seriousness, I’m not sure what the Favre story really does for the Midwest per se because anything involving Favre is such a national story now. I’m sure that Vikings and Packers blogs, plus the papers that cover the two teams, enjoyed a nice spike in eyeballs but the real winner was the NFL. Favre = ratings, jersey sales, and ticket sales. Cha-ching.

(PMB) You became somewhat of a sports media star this past summer, even appearing on ESPN Outside the Lines. I know you’ve likely told the story a million times, so I apologize, but please tell us what you learned from the experience and how you use those lessons today…

(JM) I learned more than anything that I’m not just writing in my own little personal sports diary at MSF. Every word I write is open to be consumed by anyone on the web, and that includes the possibility that my meaning could be misunderstood as well as the chance that real lives can be affected by what I write.

Bloggers may not be journalists, nor ever aspire to be, but the platform – especially if you are actively promoting yourself to drive traffic – should compel us all to be accountable for what we say. I don’t believe that means that bloggers should necessarily be held to the same standards and “rules” as the mainstream media, but I do believe that there is a minimum level of accountability that any person publishing work for public consumption should adhere to.favre02_600

Fortunately, I felt no need to back down from or apologize for the spirit of my post, and that is one thing I always make sure of now before I hit “publish”: am I prepared to defend these words if necessary? If I believe in what I am saying and am writing without malice, I am confident in the final result.

The whole Ibanez situation helped me to realize this.

(PMB) One thing that was sort of lost in the experience was your personal story, as well as that of your site, Midwest Sports Fans

(JM) It’s pretty simple really. I grew up in Indiana, lived in the Midwest my entire life save for a few years down in Miami after graduating college, and am a devoted fan of the Hoosiers, White Sox, and Browns…an eclectic mix to be sure.

Once I moved to Dallas in April in 2008, I wanted a way to stay connected to my Midwestern roots. I started working for a social media and online reputation management firm and starting MSF ended up being a great way to get hands-on experience with what we were doing.

It’s been a labor of love that I’ve truly enjoyed ever since.


(PMB) So you must truly know a lot about SEO then. Everyone has been beaten over the head with the story of newspapers dying out. But what do you see as the future of sports media? What might the next apparatus to die out after print? And also, no a brighter note, what do you envision as the future of the industry to be? Beyond “blogging” of course.

(JM) The future is that we are going to continue to see the lines blurred…between everything.

National writers put things into national perspectives. Local writers obviously localize the perspective. The local papers are already on thin ice as it is; if the ESPNs continue stealing their readers, how will they survive?

And, of course, blogs are a part of that. But I don’t see it as a zero sum game. If the MSM sees blogs as a threat, rather than an opportunity, they will get killed. The same is true for blogs with the MSM and other blogs. More synergy will lead to better, more intertwined, richer content. If the user experience is enhanced, the time spent will increase.benetton

I think this is a formula still to be unlocked.

In general, I think we are going to continue to see fragmentation of coverage with more and more specialization, which I think will ultimately lead to a better product for consumers. Those who are forward-thinking and strategic enough to build strong revenue models around the content will prosper. Others will fall by the wayside, and it should be clear by now to everyone that clinging to the status quo is a recipe for doom.

(PMB) Very true, less than 100% of sportswriters today have the luxury of making a living with the old “just write your story and send it in” approach that I was trained with in the newspaper industry. Those days are dinosaur.

Readers, be sure to check out Midwest Sports Fans.com early and often!

Sidetracked: Athlete Websites—How Far Is Too Far?

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By: Melissa S. Wollering

Jared Allen, you’re nasty and I mean that in the vilest way possible.  Viewing your website is such a sleezgusting act (sleezy/disgusting), that I contemplated whether I would dive headfirst into my own vomit if given the choice between the two. How did your PR consultants let you get away with this?

Mr. Allen has found a cheeky way to market his jersey number and sell a few overpriced t-shirts in the same dogbreath. It is also an incredibly entertaining website, so I can’t completely disregard it.  And therein lies the problem. 

Jared Allen 69, Inc. introduces your 2nd favorite Minnesota Viking via video with an open and honest discussion about mullets.  YES, MULLETS. Whether you have a baby mullet or mature mullet, Jared tells his fanbase that it should be growing one. If a Jared Allen fan is not, one is then instructed to start the process. If you’ve already lost your hair, don’t fret my pet.  Grow a skullet.

If you haven’t joined the Mullet Militia, you’re allegedly missing out on a quality lifestyle. “One county, one haircut, one young baby at a time—Mullet Militia.” What you’re not missing out on is the self-worshipping sex-marketing Jared Allen has embarked on, complete with trashy babe-enticing merchandising and a logo that was ripped off from Anheuser-Busch. 

His photos are priceless.  A gun stuffed in his crotch, secured by a cowboy belt buckle.  A dreamy Baywatch pose of Allen, slicking back his mullet with a little grease and sporting a Sax Machine t-shirt.  Get it, SACKS….  Okay, that was bad form, even for me.

So how much is overkill? When does over-the-top become outright flop? This week in Sidetracked, we take a closer look at what works and what doesn’t for athlete websites. [Read more…]

Should Packer Fans Boo Brett Favre?

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By the TSB Staff

PAUL M. BANKS

I think anyone who’s neither a.) A die-hard Minnesota Vikings fan or b.) possessor of a serious Favre man-crush, should (no, it is their patriotic duty as an American) boo the hell out of Brett Favre. As much respect as I had for his ability and resume prior to 2008, it is impossible for me to separate that from the pathetic attention-whore he is today. As a Chicagoan, I have to say Michael Jordan the basketball player- loved him, best ever to watch play. Michael Jordan the brand/person- awful disgusting corporation with psychopathic tendencies disguised as a person.Brett-Favre-signs-with-the-Jets

I made the distinction here, but after being beaten over the head with Favre coverage for two years straight, I’m to lazy to make a similar segmentation again, or I don’t care enough to do so.

If you consume any sports at all, you should be rooting against Favre. He recently said (which ESPN repeated AD NAUSEUAM) “There will always be Favre haters, nothing will change that.” Yes and why is that? Because you’re an attention whore with a solipsism eclipsing that of anyone in history- except maybe the Holy Roman Emperor Constantine.

JAKE MCCORMICK

Would you be happy with an ex-player that strung you along with retirement talk for years, can’t handle ever being told he’s been wrong before, goes to an archrival partially out of spite, and then seven games into his “career” with that team says it’s the best team he’s ever been on? Those are only a few reasons why Packer fans rightfully should boo Brett Favre, the biggest of which being that he is on their most hated rival. Chris Rock once said NOBODY is above an ass whoopin’. Likewise, no one is above getting booed for things fans deem to be unjust and douchebaggy and Favre’s douchebag resume spans pretty much his entire career (cheating, partying, illegitimate kids, primadonna teammate, etc.).

Another reason not to cheer him is for Aaron Rodger’s sake. If Favre is booed, it further cements Rodgers as our quarterback and shows that Packer fans understand that he is the correct choice at the position. Booing is the only way fans can really show their disapproval of anything in sports, and clearly Packer fans collectively are not in the Favre camp anymore. Packer fans, boo until you’re hoarse, and even start some “asshole” chants, but please keep it civil so people don’t lump you together with the Cub bleachers, Browns, and Raider fans. Like LeRoy Butler said, cheer for him when his number is retired, but not when he’s on another team, especially the Vikings.

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H. JOSE BOSCH

Packer fans should get over themselves. So what if Brett Favre jumped ship? This isn’t the 1950s anymore. Sports is a business and athletes should be allowed to navigate their way through that business just like regular people do in the non sports world. Having said that, they have every right to boo him. Why? Because he plays for a team that isn’t the Green Bay Packers.

Would they respectfully cheer for Jay Cutler? Matthew Stafford? Tom Brady? Nope. Did they have a long past with the Packers? Doesn’t matter. Favre is now a player on an opposing team and should be treated as such.

When he finally retires (or, more accurately when his family straps him to a chair to prevent him from unretiring), then Packer fans can reminisce, retire his number and build a giant cheese stature in his honor outside Lambeau’s main entrance. Hell, they can make a statue for every entrance if they want to. Because Green Bay fans are weird and they like cheese.

But this Sunday isn’t the day for that. Green Bay needs that win to have any chance at winning the division. Put aside anything from his past and treat him like the opposing quarterback he is. Then you can deal with your Favre-related issues later.

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SOXMAN

When Brett Favre is announced for the first time, he should receive a standing ovation and endless applause for the years of dedication, excitement, and memories he supplied Packer fans.  He has earned it.

The Packer’s organization should run a video montage of his many accomplishments when he arrives on the field and then end it quietly with a fade to black and white, simply  displaying the words: “Thanks Brett.”

Then, after he makes his first spectacular play, Packers fans should show an even greater sign of respect in unison by chanting: “Boo.”

After all, is a “boo” not the greatest show of respect to an opponent who did something to hurt your team?

When Frank Thomas returned to the Cell in 2006 as a member of the Oakland A’s, he received a five minute plus standing ovation when he was introduced at the plate the first time.  He homered in that at bat and was cheered loudly by the majority of the fans in attendance.  In two more trips to the plate, he smashed two more dingers.  Respectfully, Sox fans honored him with shower of deafening “Boos.”

Does Brett Favre not deserve the same?

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In Their Own Words: Madden on Vikings vs. Packers

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By Melissa S. Wollering

While Brett Favre was waffling this off-season, I, John Madden, was eating waffles with maple syrup and little chocolate sprinkles over whipped cream out of that aerosol can thingy. Oh, and I also made people believe my retirement was linked to my ability to never again commentate with Brett Favre at the helm of an NFL team.  Boy, was I wrong.  You know what I’m still right about?  Ace is the place for hardware. And the road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.

Many people believed I would come back to announce only if Favre came back to play.  You know who spread that rumor? The guy who came back to host a primetime version of his Tonight Show on the same network that moved MNF to its sister network and settled for football on Sunday nights.  Now Football Night in America has a bunch of idiots representing them at one desk. I like Tony Dungy, but who thought that putting Costas, Patrick, Olbermann and Harrison together was smart? Gee, don’t worry about the horse being blind, just load the wagon. [Read more…]

NFL Live Blog, Week 3

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11:15 AM: Welcome to our live blog for Week 3 of the NFL season!  Again, if you’re here now, you’re early.  But that’s fine, there’s things for you to do while you wait!  In fact, maybe you could read while the games are on, too.

Interested in Paul Schmidt’s picks against the spread for this week?  He was 4-0 last week and is 6-2 on the season so far.

How about Tom Lea’s straight-up picks?  This week, we’ve got a musical feel to his musings…although I use the term music loosely because there’s at least one reference to Phil Collins in there…

Check out our most-read story of the week, Paul Banks’ story on hiring on-air personalities on the Big Ten Network. If nothing else I think there’s an Erin Andrews picture in there somewhere…

Finally, there’s last week’s Sports Bank Fantasy Football recap.  See who is on track to be champs, and who are just going to be chumps. 

Most importantly, don’t forget to come back and chat about today’s games!

Possible NFC North Reality Shows

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By the TSB Staff

Since the NFC North in 2009 seems to be the ultimate reality series in professional sports right now. I asked my staff to  analogize the players and coaches in the division with some of the tv show “characters” currently dotting the reality show landscape.

JAKE MCCORMICK

This is an easy one. Despite my vocal criticisms of VH1 and their mind-numbing switch from “Behind the Music” type programming to mindless trapclap like “Brooke Knows Best” marathons, I must admit I watch a lot of their reality dating shows. I love the creatures that come out of their holes in the ground to proclaim their love for aging rock/rap stars. But the best analogy I can give involves the Vikings, Brett Favre, and Daisy of Love.

Daisy is (obviously) looking for love, but was shunned from her “true love” Bret Michaels in “Rock of Love 2,” and finished second to a mature girl with less baggage and much more potential. She didn’t get along with everyone on the show, and was very shady when talking about her living situations (she lived with her “ex” boyfriend). She was the Brett Favre to Bret Michaels (or Ted Thompson’s) Aaron Rodgers (Winner Ambre Lake).

Fast forward to the fourth episode of “Daisy of Love.” She has really taken a liking to a guy named London, who is a flashy rock star-type, but is also a big flake and whines for no apparent reason other than he isn’t getting his way. As a result, he leaves before elimination, leaving Daisy bawling in her room and unable to give out her Rock Star chains. This obviously upsets the house, since none of the other guys liked London because he was a cocky but waffling douche to her. As the show goes on, we get hints that Daisy is still hurt by London’s premature departure, and her chemistry isn’t as strong with the other guys. So, with four guys remaining in the competition, Daisy’s sidekick Riki reaches out to London and persuades him to come back and resolve the issues between him and Daisy.

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Obviously the rest of the guys hate his guts, and he knows it all too well. But he gradually makes it to the finale episode, and when faced with a decision between Flex, a guy that is much better for her and different than her usual drama-loving boyfriends, and London, who is like every other immature guy she has dated, Daisy says the following: “I need Flex, but I want London.” Thus, she chooses the guy everyone loved to hate, and they all learn to live with it even though everyone involved with the show (including Riki) thinks she made a mistake. I’ll leave you to fill in who is who between the Vikings organization, Favre, and the players. This analogy makes too much sense to me.
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SOXMAN

Cheaters staring Brett Favre.

When Green Packer Packer fans suspect their long-time boyfriend is cheating on them with another team, our cameras are there when the confrontation takes place.  Will Brett score with another team?  Don’t miss another great season on the NFC.

Flavor of Lovie.

Lovie Smith is in search of a wide receiver for his bachelor quarterback.  Will Lovie’s idea of ball romance agree with Jay’s desire to command an offense?  The balls will fly and players will run all season long in the most offensive show to come out of Chicago in years.

Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood.

Starring Aaron Rogers who teaches people it’s ok to be second despite the speedy deliveries of passes to Greg Jennings.  In the end, you will go to the land of make believe to see what life would have been like if Brett Favre was never born.

The Girls Next Door.

Starring the Detroit Lions offensive line.  Only Mathew Stafford will not be pillow fighting cuties.  He’ll be participating in the “Amazing Race,” trying to escape linemen out for his head.cedricbensonjersye

PAUL M. BANKS

“Elimidate” starring Brian Urlacher

He’s a man known to reap the “strange” out there in the Chicago nightlife; on a level even more intense than Kyle Farnsworth or Mark Grace. Everyone has an Urlacher story. Some even have a paternity suit.

“The Shark Tank” starring Matthew Stafford

ABC’s Sunday night series is probably the only reality series I actually like these days, but this show isn’t about aspiring entrepreneurs pitching panels of venture capitalists, it’s Stafford being put into open water surrounded by blood and chum (his 0-16 Lions teammates) as the sharks, opposing defenses circle around.

“Blind Date” starring Brett Favre

I always loved the little drawings, graphics and thought bubbles that comprise each episode of this series. My dream job is to be the person who gets to write the funny observations and insults of those who participate on this game show. Actually my dream job is any job where I get to rip on people. But what if John Madden who has the biggest man-crush in the history on man-crushes on Favre, also came out of retirement just to cover a few games featuring the man who complete him? He’d no doubt manipulate the telecast to draw hearts and write amorous sayings all over the screen, and somehow the show ends with Madden and Favre in a hot tub…ugh….

Most Overlooked NFC North Storylines

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By the TSB Staff

The NFC North will undoubtedly be a reality series this fall with the Brett Favre-Minnesota Vikings story likely to be “the lead” all year in most NFL content-producing mediums. #1 overall draft pick Matt Stafford helping rebuild the Detroit Lions, Jay Cutler bringing the Chicago Bears solid quarterback play for the first time since the Industrial Revolution will be huge as well.  But what about under-the-radar NFC North storylines? What interesting developments have been under-reported?

SAM SVOBODA

The Bears’ loss of safety Mike Brown.

Even though he’s had injury problems, I was shocked at how little I heard about the Bears letting him go. I thought maybe it was because I was in California at the time, but it turned out my brother (who’s been in Chicago the whole year) didn’t even know about it until seeing that Brown signed with the Chiefs in June. Yes, Brown has lost a step with his injuries and age, but he played 15 games last year and proved that he can still make plays. More importantly, he brought leadership and experience- Brian Urlacher has always gotten more press, but I really believe that Brown was the heart and soul of the Bears’ defense.

Perhaps the main reason that I think Brown’s departure is a big story though, is because of the safeties that the Bears kept. If the Bears had some great, established safeties then I would have had an easier time understanding letting Brown go. But the team’s current list of safeties reads like this: Kevin Payne, Danieal Manning, Craig Steltz, Josh Bullocks, Al Afalava. I really hope some of the above guys can prove themselves as consistent NFL starters, but if the Bears’ safeties are repeatedly beaten this season, you have to wonder about the decision to let Brown go.


JAKE MCCORMICK

What’s missing? The answer is anything about the Green Bay Packers. As we’ve seen from even just the past week, ESPN will report every time Brett Favre involuntarily farts when he gets under center for the Vikings. It’s like a politician, where everyone is giving him advice on how to act, what he needs to do to gain his teammates trust, and the best way to overcome the doubts.

The Lions are a story because they are a team with a new image, the biggest being the new badass Lion on the helmet. The worst team in the league from the previous year always gets obligatory press coverage because it’s interesting to see how they change their approach on Sundays.

The Bears have a mini-Favre in Jay Cutler, who is a great talent but already a prima donna. And he doesn’t even have a winning record as a starter. How he responds to moving from a team with good receivers, a banged up running game, and a terrible defense to a team with a good running back, bad receivers, and an aging defense will be something to watch.bearstrainingcamp2

That leaves us with the Packers, and the biggest storyline that anyone can pick up will be the transition to the 3-4 and how Aaron Rodgers responds as a second-year starter. But honestly, name one story about the Packers that has made any sort of noise on ESPN or anywhere outside of Wisconsin. And no, the team’s reaction to Favre’s return doesn’t count. Green Bay has the talent and depth to be much better than last year’s 6-10 record indicates, and although Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy build the team through the draft, the fact that they only kept one coach from 2008 on the defensive side of the ball this season says something about the team’s sense of urgency. The whole Packer organization is an underreported and under-the-radar story, which is funny considering it is one of the top three most popular teams around the world. For proof, I offer this: My girlfriend spent a semester in Spain and her host brothers knew nothing about football, but they all had Green Bay Packer bobble-heads.

SOXMAN

The coverage of the Favre signing was to the sports world what the death of Michael Jackson was to the pop culture masses.

I’m actually more curious to see if rookie WR Percy Harvin can unseat Devin Hester as the next American Idol of the return game.  The kid can fly and actually might end up being a decent wide receiver as well.  Did you hear that #23?

What ever happened to Devin Hester’s return game anyway?  He is the Rueben Studdard of the NFL- minus about 200 lbs.bearstrainingcamp1

Other NFC North storylines- “My Tight End” sounds like the name of an alternative lifestyle reality show, but actually it’s a question.  With the exception of “the Packers,” (again, minds out of the gutter), all North division QBs have a new tight end.  Who will be the first TE to establish that “till free agency do we part” chemistry with their ball hurler?  Cutler and Olsen, who have already established chemistry on the Chicago nightclub scene?  Stafford and Pettigrew?  Both are NFL “first timers,” who only have each other in a world of potential pass rushers?  Or old man Favre and Visanthe Shiancoe?  Given Favre’s love of men who can go long, anything is possible.


PAUL SCHMIDT

I know, the Jay Cutler talk and the love affair with him is ridiculous right now, and it’s getting just as tiresome as the Brett Favre story.  Well…maybe not that bad…but it’s getting old.  The thing people need to be talking about with the Bears is what happens if they are bad?  I mean, there’s a lot of speculation about the receivers, and maybe it’s founded, but it would seem to me that there isn’t enough speculation about the defense.
What happens if Tommy Harris isn’t ok?  What happens if Brian Urlacher continues to slide as he ages? What happens if Lance Briggs’ ego continues to grow and it gets in the way of his performance?  What happens if Peanut Tillman isn’t ok, and doesn’t heal properly?  What happens if Danieal Manning doesn’t get better?  What if Nathan “The Interceptor” Vasher sucks again this season?  What if no one steps up in the secondary?  What if the defensive line STILL can’t get pressure on an opposing QB this season?vikingsheadshadow

See?  There’s a ton of questions.  The defense isn’t a sure thing to be great.  The offense BETTER score a lot of points, because the defense just might be giving up quite a few…

The point is, if the Bears aren’t a playoff team, and end up .500 or worse, is Lovie Smith’s job on the line?  Jerry Angelo’s? Both have really put their necks on the line with the Cutler deal yet not bringing in any top WR (like Anquan Boldin). Shouldn’t they be on the hot seat just because of that?

SHAYMUS MCLAUGHLIN

In my opinion, it has to be Aaron Rodgers coming into his own as an elite QB in the NFL. He put up pretty ridiculous stats last year, especially for a first year starter (4,038 yards, 28 TDs, 13 INTs, and a 63.6% completion percentage). He managed to do it with the whole Brett Favre thing weighing down on him, which makes the feat even more impressive. While the mainstream media will be keeping an eye on Favre’s follies in Minnesota, Cutler’s conquest of Soldier Field, and Stafford’s starting gig in the Motor City, Aaron Rodgers will be quietly be amassing elite numbers for the green and gold at Lambeau Field.

What did I miss?: The Favre who? edition

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By H. Jose Bosch

In just its fourth installment, What did I miss is tweaking itself a bit. For the first three weeks we’ve been very newspaper dependent with the links. This week we’ll try being more blog orientated for two reasons: 1. Blogs tend to be more interesting and funny 2. Blogs tend to be more interesting and funny.

That’s not to say we’ll ignore papers (we will for this week only). But from now on this weekly feature will be drawn primarily from the blogsphere with a sprinkling of interesting feature-style stories from the main stream media. Now back to you regularly scheduled post.

Wow. Minnesota has been tearing it up in the sports world this week. First was the return of Brett Favre, this time in a Vikings jersey. Then our boy Andy Weise and his well-placed sources informed the world that Ricky Rubio just might be coming to Minnesota after all.

fargoI don’t think Minnesota has received this much attention since Frances McDormand won an Oscar for her role in Fargo; which, by the way, was mostly filmed in North Dakota even though it’s set in Minnesota. So enjoy the attention Minnesota. It might be a while before you have another week as eventful as this.

As for the rest of What did I miss, this is what went on in the NFC North/Big Ten foot print that didn’t have to do with Favre-Rubio.

If you like poetry and like Chicago sports, then you’ll love this new blog at Chicago Now, which combines sports blogging with haiku. Nothing I read about the Bears’ 27-20 loss to the Bills sums up the experience quite like this:

High expectations
Lead to high disappointment.
But who is to blame?
-Andrew Braverman-

This might become my new favorite blog to stop by. Funny and original. You should take a look.

Crocs, the company that manufactures those annoying-looking but incredibly-comfortable shoes, is teaming up with new Piston Charlie Villanueva to donate their shoes to children in the Dominican Republic.
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I can’t help but think: “Leave it to the U.S. to peddle its no-longer-useful-fads onto poorer countries. All kidding aside, it’s really a great gesture from one of Detroit’s newest pro athletes.

Speaking of the Pistons, the fellow (fellers?) at Life on Dumars has been running an interesting little series called Forgotten Pistons. Here’s a link to the first one posted last Sunday but they’re all fun, short reads. I didn’t think players so irrelevant could make for a good blog post, but they do.

We have a little Michigan State presence here at The Sports Bank and by little I mean zero. So here’s some (gulp) Spartan love. The Other Side of Spartan Sports (an interesting take on MSU sports if you ask me) likes Michigan State’s agreement to play the three Michigan directional schools 12 times in the next 10 years. The news is significant because the Spartans have agreed to one road game for each series, which is rare for a Big Ten team to do.

The blog Girafinha threw out a very interesting nugget: Ann Arbor is currently under consideration as a venue for the U.S.’s 2018/2022 World Cup bid. Interesting read.

TCW at the Bucks Diary has called his shot early and says the Bucks will win AT LEAST 40 games this season. How many other bloggers will follow suit?

Cubby-Blue’s reaction to Tuesday night’s loss is horribly disturbing yet hilarious all at the same time. This kind of Web site makes me wish I knew how to do something other than write.

Good news Packers fans: Via Ticket News, those scalped tickets you’ll want to buy for Favre’s return to Lambeau Field will now be easier to buy!
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The sad thing about this video, via Total Packers, is that it might be the only time Ashton Kutcher has been funny in at least five years.

The Hour announces that UConn will christen the newly renovated Michigan Stadium in 2010 and will host the Wolverines in 2013, when I’ll invariably still be looking for a journalism job.

The college football season hasn’t even begun but we already have a playoff-is-better-than-the-current-system blog post, courtesy of the Phoenix Club. But, this post is worth reading because it’s the most creative playoff system I’ve ever seen proposed.

It’s essentially based on the European soccer champion’s league format, which could never work in the U.S. I love it and it’s interesting to see how the brackets would play out based on last season. Why is this relevant? Four Big Ten teams (Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa) would be in the playoffs under this system.

Last but not least is just a random video that you can forward to all your friends at work. Sometimes it’ll be sports related and sometimes it won’t be. This week it won’t be. Enjoy!

Brett Favre, back in the NFC North. Officially

Vikings Favre Football

Thompson not getting Moss the reason Favre is in Purple Today

By Andy Weise

How did this all come about? Brett Favre is a Minnesota Viking? Let’s be real here for a second, Favre has wanted to play for the Vikings since he came to a realization that he was no longer the guy the Green Bay Packers wanted under the center. His reasons for wanting to play for the Vikings could be revenge, the knowledge of a similar offense or even Super Bowl prospects/motivation. One thing is for certain today, No. 4 is signed, sealed and delivered to the Purple.

So again, how did this really come about? It wasn’t like Favre was willing to play for any team that needed a quarterback. San Francisco and Denver are already emerging as teams with QB situations that look worse than the sans Favre Vikings so why the Vikings? To me this is has been in the making for two years. Ted Thompson, Green Bay’s general manager, has plenty of blame in why Favre is wearing purple today. Remember when Randy Moss was on the verge of joining the Packers? The sound of that still makes me sick to this day, so I can only imagine what the Packers faithful are going through today.

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Randy Moss was available before the 2007 season and it seemed imminent that he was heading to Green Bay to catch passes from Favre himself. Favre loved to throw balls up in the air and Moss loved to go catch ones as if he were playing the backyard football game 500. So what went wrong with Favre and Moss playing together in Green Bay? Thompson would only offer a fifth round pick, Oakland wanted a fourth which New England ended up offering. Thompson not only wouldn’t match the fourth round pick but he also reached out to Moss and basically turned him off. Favre was the guy who wanted Moss more than anyone else, how could that not create dysfunction with Favre and the Packers?

Look at these comments from 2008 that Moss made about the Green Bay situation in 2007.

“The Packers were really talking about the wrong things, and not the right things. When they started talking more about the wrong things, I just hung up the phone and didn’t want to talk to them anymore. I thought at first it was something that could have worked, for the fact that Brett Favre was there, but I think as the conversations occurred throughout the day and the next day, I didn’t really want to go to Green Bay.”

In the interview, they might have asked Moss for more specific comments and he didn’t shy away.

“They were just talking about their team concept and the wide receivers and Donald Driver,” he said. “It was like they were telling me that they were going to somewhat take a chance on me but, ‘if you do come here, these are the things you have to watch out, and be on your best behavior, and Donald Driver is the top receiver here, so don’t come in and try to step on his toes,’ and things like that.

“I didn’t think that was right because my whole career I have been taken out of context sometimes, but at the end of the day all I wanted to do was win games. …I didn’t really feel they wanted me. I felt that Brett Favre wanted me, but I didn’t really feel the Packers wanted me.”

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So not only did the Packers not get Moss in 2007, he was a free agent in 2008 and Favre reportedly wanted the Packers again to go after him. The day after Moss resigned with the Patriots, Favre retired. Now believe who you want but there was clearly friction between Favre and Thompson and typical Favre could never decide if he wanted to play so when he unretired a year ago, it was no surprise that Thompson and the rest of the Packers organization decided to move on. Favre had high demands, he wanted to immediately be the starter upon returning but with Aaron Rodgers preparing all offseason, it would have been a slap in the face to Rodgers to put him right back to the bench even though the Packers were 13-3 the year before.

Vikings Favre Football

The wheels have been in motion and Favre is now wearing purple. It’s hard to say what will happen for the Vikings this year but anything less than a deep playoff run will be a disappointment. Favre joins a very talented team with the NFL’s best run defense for the past three years, the best running back in the game along with plenty of other weapons on offense. The excitement as a Vikings fan is there but any NFL fan should be excited for what will unfold this year. The Green Bay – Minnesota games should flirt with TV ratings records and the Vikings should not have to worry about any blackouts.

All the Vikings need now is Moss to demand a trade back to the team that took a chance on him in 1998. Wait, in 1998 the Vikings were 15-1 and were a field goal away from going to the Super Bowl in Miami. Where is the 2009 Super Bowl? Miami. Time to head back to iTunes and listen to Will Smith – Miami.