A friend who played quarterback in high school once told me it was the hardest thing he's ever tried to do. I have no reason not to believe him; I never even had much of an opportunity to play quarterback in a backyard pickup game, but whenever I did, I was inevitably paralyzed by indecision: There were nine receivers running post patterns and shouting desperately for the ball, and one moment they all looked equally open, and one moment they all looked equally covered, and a 170-pound sixth-grade pituitary case named Bull had just counted to Five Mississippi and was bearing down with unmerciful vengeance on my head, and the play usually ended with me ducking and sprinting into the woods and taking refuge under a neighbor's deck.
Indecision, it would seem, is the bane of any effective quarterback; indecision leads to breakdowns, and breakdowns lead to implosions, and implosions lead to...well, apparently they lead us back to Minnesota, where Brett Favre has just pulled one of the craziest stunts in the modern history of pro football. Seriously, I'm like you; I would prefer to pretend this whole thing isn't happening, either, but it is--or at least I think it is--and while no sane American thinks this can possibly work--even Fran Tarkenton has decried it as a publicity stunt, and Fran Tarkenton once hosted a show where guests caught bullets with their teeth--I ask you this, a question no one particularly wants to consider:
What if it does work?
If Brett Favre somehow leads the Vikings to the Super Bowl this season...if a fragile 39-year-old who makes Hamlet seem like George W. Bush can step in and win games for his longtime team's archrival, perhaps it would be the ultimate proof that delusional egotism is in fact the greatest asset a quarterback can have,* and that the key to playing quarterback is possessing the requisite self-regard it requires to cut through the tumult and the shouting, even if those same qualities eventually render you personally intolerable. Perhaps it would reinforce one thing about football that we would prefer not to acknowledge, which is that the greatest quarterback in the backyard was very often the most insufferable kid in the neighborhood. And those same kids are often the last ones who actually learn how to grow up.
*See: McMahon, Jim, whose complex persona--plug alert!--is examined in my upcoming book...release date still TBD...