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Brett Favre's Broadcasting Forecast: Cloudy With Chance of Clearing

Jan 5, 2011 – 10:43 AM
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Milton Kent

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Brett FavreIt seemed so obvious once upon a time: Whenever Brett Favre decided to retire, his name would join those of Terry Bradshaw, Dan Marino, Phil Simms, Troy Aikman and Steve Young as great quarterbacks who parlayed their accomplishments on the field into successful careers preaching the gospel of football each Sunday on television.

However, what seemed obvious once upon a time isn't as clear now, as Favre's spot at a desk or in a booth doesn't seem certain, as no network has expressed an interest in bringing him on board.

Their reluctance to commit is understandable. The Favre brand is badly tarnished through actions almost entirely of his own doing.

To wit, Favre's name has been dragged through the tabloid sludge throughout this season because of his alleged "sexting" of former Jets game hostess Jenn Sterger. In addition, two former massage therapists associated with the Jets filed a lawsuit this week, contending that he behaved similarly with them.
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Add that to the weariness over Favre's seeming eternal Hamlet act as to whether he would retire or return each postseason, and you get a name that isn't as dazzling to network officials as it once was.

Then, too, there's practicality. Normally, a network would go in for a splashy, high-profile name if its ratings were flagging or if there was a notable vacancy. In case you hadn't noticed, ratings for all the NFL carriers are up to the point where bringing in Favre wouldn't likely add any more eyeballs to the mix.

And, unless Bill Cowher does leave CBS' "The NFL Today" to return to coaching, there really aren't any openings at any of the Sunday or Monday broadcasts and there are no position that Favre would improve by replacing the current incumbent.

Still, just as it was never safe to count Favre out during his playing days, so might it be to do so with a potential broadcasting career.

Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse, points out that the predominant audience for football is less likely to be troubled by Favre's perceived morality gap than, say, an audience for "Dr. Phil" would be if he were to get into similar trouble.

"That's not necessarily the right response," said Thompson, a longtime professor and media observer. "If he did that, that's not right and what he seems to have done in the Sterger thing, that's not right. The question, then, is does that, in fact, make the audience for his commentary someone who would not want to watch the show because of his past."

Indeed, Thompson said, the public has shown itself willing to move past a public figure's foibles to accept them on television or back in the limelight, with the examples of Marv Albert and, more recently, Tiger Woods.

Thompson said O.J. Simpson has exhausted his reservoir of goodwill with the public, but many others can have a second act under the right circumstances.

"I read a lot of literature and a lot of authors had bad personal stories," Thompson said. "The difference between how they lived their lives and how they wrote their books is not a deal breaker for me. The question is, and this is what networks that hire these people have to ask, is it going to be a deal breaker for a significant part of their audience that it could actually do them more harm than good."
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Filed under: Sports
Tagged: Brett Favre

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