You haven’t heard why I like Brett Favre. It isn’t that ridiculous touchdown pass to Greg Lewis (who made a more ridiculous catch) in the final seconds last week to beat San Francisco. It isn’t the way Favre has conducted himself with deferential humility since joining the Minnesota Vikings in the preseason. It isn’t the Vikings’ 3-0 record, though success equals charisma.
Nope. It isn’t the success that makes me suddenly like Brett Favre.
It’s the Sears commercial.
I know. I know.
But have you seen the commercial? It shows Brett Favre doing the one thing I’ve always wanted him to do: He’s acknowledging how ridiculous he has been, year after year, when he has been unable to decide on retirement. He laughs at himself. Do you have any idea how hard it is to scream at someone who’s already laughing at himself? It’s damn near impossible.
In the commercial, the TV salesman offers to do a real-time price check for Favre because, “There’s some guys out there who really agonize about making decisions. It’s not their thing — they waffle, they don’t know what they’re going to do …”
“Those guys drive me crazy,” Favre says.
Moments later, Favre reaches a decision on a TV.
Favre: “I’ll take it.”
Salesman: “All right!”
Favre: “I don’t know …”
Some people laugh out loud, and some don’t. I’m a “don’t.” I laugh like Bill Belichick smiles — invisibly. If it’s happening, it’s happening inside my head. But this commercial makes me giggle out loud, and it does it every time I’ve seen it. Check out the number of times that thing has been watched. I’m half of it.
Commercials are the new publicity stunts. Used to be, athletes would visit a sick kid in the hospital or donate enough money to build a youth baseball field. They’d whisper the news to a newspaper or tip off a local TV station, and voilà — instant goodwill.
Now, athletes win us over with a commercial — assuming the commercial is well done. Check out anything with Peyton Manning or LeBron James: well done. And then check out super hair-o Andre Agassi, circa 1990: atrocious. It took Agassi a decade to live down that narcissistic “image is everything” slogan. He literally had to go away, tumble down the rankings from No. 1 to No. 141, then return with a bald head and a humbled persona to be widely embraced.
One bad commercial could do that much damage. For proof, there’s Danica Patrick and GoDaddy.com. Lots of people, me included, think she’s a butt-shaking gimmick — not an actual race-car driver — and she has herself and those commercials to blame.
One spot begins with paparazzi snapping photos of models as they emerge from cars holding beavers — a euphemistic reference to some notorious upskirt photos of various starlets — and then shows Patrick starting to unzip her racing suit before deciding “a domain name and a website from GoDaddy.com give me all the exposure I need, so I can keep my beaver out of sight.”
One bad commercial can ruin your rep. But one great commercial? It rejuvenates.
I have another example, and if you think I hate myself for coming around on Brett Favre, you have no idea. I despise myself for this one. Seriously, I need counseling to deal with my self-loathing after watching the ESPN commercial with anchor Scott Van Pelt and agent Scott Boras and deciding that, you know, maybe I was wrong about Boras.
I called Boras “evil” in 2007 and again in 2008, and by 2009 I was reduced to whining about how much I hate him.
But that was before I saw this commercial. Van Pelt is greedy for special perks, and Boras is his agent. Together they meet with network brass and make one ridiculous demand after the next.
When Boras puts a calming hand on Van Pelt’s forearm, leans in with a smile and tells the other side “we’re going to need the Snuggie” … I was toast. Done. Boras remains an evil influence on the game and on your wallet, and I hate that, but I don’t hate him. Not after watching that commercial. Nope, I think I like him. Just like I like Brett Favre.
So who do I hate? Me. I hate me.