Brett Favre’s stats are legendary. He holds practically every NFL quarterback record in the book. In my mind, his most impressive mark is the nearly 300 games he has played without sitting out an opening drive with an injury. After a two-decade career where he assiduously fed the beast and made many a top sportswriter swoon, Favre is playing out perhaps his last season amidst a scandal with too much juice for the beast to ignore.

The story is by now well known. First breaking on the outlaw sports website several months before the start of the season, the word was that Favre had been sending inappropriate voice mails and lewd photographs to a female Jets team employee. The mainstream sports media dutifully ignored the story. Then came the actual phone messages, which were kind of pathetic, and, allegedly, the pictures.

This scandal now dominates the persona that is Brett Favre.

The sad truth for Favre is that redemption is a young person’s game.

If you are quarterback/dog fighter Michael Vick or substance abuser/Texas Rangers star Josh Hamilton, and can emerge from disgrace to excel on the field, much is forgotten. You are a SportsCenter highlight away from forgiveness. If you are suspected steroid users Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds or admitted steroid user Mark McGwire, the last memory becomes indelible. It doesn’t matter if your crimes are misdemeanors or felonies or just an inability to control your libido. Favre is forty-one, missing throws he used to make in his sleep and, for the first time in his long career, hearing from columnists that he should be benched.

To be clear, I’m not defending Favre’s conduct, and there are many others in this world of ours far more deserving of even a modicum of our pity. But what does it say about a media where a flash of scandal can undo twenty years of play?

This is but an excerpt from Dave Zirin's column in The Progressive's Dec/Jan issue. To read the whole article, simply subscribe to The Progressive for $14.97 -- that 75% off -- by clicking here.

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A huge win, it's also just a hit on the pause button. Here's some context and ideas about paths forward.

The reach of this story extends from the lowliest working stiff to the highest court in the land.

White supremacist posters on campuses play on ignorance and fear within the very institutions that should be our...

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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