Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The New Favre

I'm still holding on to shred of hope for another Brett Favre comeback. In fact, as long as he never throws another pass for the Falcons, I'm all in favor of Brett Favre continuing to retire and un-retire every year until he's dead. Is that an unpopular opinion? I'm guessing so, but I don't care. I like watching him play football, and, more importantly, when he's in the public spotlight there is a veritable planetary system of silliness and hyperbole in constant orbit around him, and I find every bit of it delightful. It's the same reason I like cable news and living in Florida.

But it's been a full year since the last time Favre took the Favre as a professional Favre,[1] and the chances of another un-retirement (which would be number five, by my count) grow slimmer each day. Someone needed to fill the void, and holy crap, did someone ever do just that, and then some.

To declare so early in his career that Tim Tebow is the new Favre would be an overreaction of Favrian proportions, so I think we should go ahead and do it. The variety and sheer mass of the nonsense drawn in by Tebow's gravitational field is greater than Favre can even dream of (and clearly Favre does dream of such things). There's the small mountain of "what if Tebow were Muslim?" commentary.[2] The actually-kind-of-plausible theory that the Broncos made Tebow their starter as part of a Major League-esque scheme to lose on purpose. This. And on and on. But my personal favorite so far is an article by's Katie Kieffer, titled "Tebow Sacks Socialism":
Tebow has All-American character. He espouses capitalistic values that are foundational to America: Competitiveness, ownership, responsibility, hard work, optimism, faith and persistence.
That's right. Tebow is a symbol of the virtues of capitalism. This is a person who, as far as I know, has never publicly weighed in on free market economics, or virtually any other political issue for that matter.[3] So, what does Tebow have to do with capitalism?
In a capitalist society, leaders—whether they are the President of the United States, the CEO of a corporation or the quarterback for a football team—take responsibility. They don’t blame Congress, their shareholders or their fans. They focus on improving themselves and working harder to compete for a winning result.

Unlike Tebow, President Obama refuses to accept responsibility for the economic destruction he has unleashed via socialist policies like ObamaCare, bailouts, net neutrality regulations and by blocking oil production.
Probably this is just poor wording, but I did wonder for a second if there was a press conference where Tebow took responsibility for the recession and somehow I missed it. It wouldn't really surprise me if he did, simply out of politeness.

Anyway, more from Kieffer:
Football is competitive. There are winners and losers. Talent and hard work win; incompetence and laziness lose. Football rewards innovative risk-takers and analytical thinkers, not sentimental whiners. By instilling capitalistic principles, football builds leaders. In contrast, by discouraging competition, socialist principles encourage people to do the bare minimum, shirk responsibility and reject leadership.

Tebow lives his life in a way that embraces capitalistic principles and he is a leader because of his strong character.
Am I reading this wrong, or is she calling Blaine Gabbert a communist? Regardless, it's fantastically twisted logic. If the point is that successful athletes personify the basic principles of capitalism, then the quarterbacks we should be exalting include Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and, ahem, Ben Roethlisberger. If the point is that "innovative risk-takers" are rewarded, then that ignores a fundamental tenet of capitalism, which is that sometimes they aren't (and nevermind that much of Tebow's NFL success can be attributed to being risk-averse).

Moreover, and I realize I'm well past the point of taking this too seriously, but football really isn't capitalistic, for the simple reason that in football there will always be an equal number of winners and losers.[4] There can be no growth—average win totals are stagnant from year to year (at least, until the league goes to an 18-game schedule). Thus, playing to win is strategically identical to playing to cause your opponent to lose. In capitalism those two things are often different, and, at least in theory, you're always better off playing to win. If your competitors manage to win too, good for them.

But I'm not here to pick apart ill-conceived analogies. Well, I am, but also to say that I'm very much enjoying this, and I'm excited to see where it goes. What conservative talking point will Tebow's unconventional brand of marginally-above-average quarterbacking be shoehorned into next? Will his fearless running style be used to justify military intervention somewhere overseas? When a replay official overturns a Tebow touchdown, will Newt Gingrich cite it as further evidence of the threat judicial review poses to American values? And how long until he becomes a pawn in the ongoing War on the War on Christmas? The sky's the limit.

1. That was an homage to (or perhaps a ripoff of) this outstanding Deadspin headline: Tim Tebow Tebows 59-Yard Tebow To Force Tebowtime.
2. Answer: The amount of inexplicable animosity he generates by being openly Christian (and the counter-animosity his fans have for his detractors, and the counter-counter-animosity his detractors have for his fans) would look quaint by comparison.
3. Oh yeah, the abortion thing, when Tebow revealed that (a) he wasn't aborted, and (b) he's happy about that. These are both things that were already self-evident, but I guess when you say them out loud you're going to turn some heads.
4. Not to mention the flagrantly Marxist nature of the draft.

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