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Psychology of Favre Fans Still Fascinates
Whether they’re wearing Packer (or Jets green), Viking purple or any other color, fans have an almost uncanny emotional connection to Favre.
Take for example a woman from Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, who talks about Brett like he’s one of her grandchildren and even hangs a stocking with his name on it over the fireplace at Christmas. Or how about another Midwestern woman who, in the midst of labor, refused to enter the delivery room without “her Brett of hers” of hers; Obviously, it wasn’t possible for the hospital staff to introduce the three-time league MVP in person, but they did. channel the radio transmission from the ballgame to the birthing room. Then there was the grade-schooler who faithfully wore his Favre jersey every day for months to pay tribute to his gridiron hero. None of these people have met Favre personally, yet their affection for him is as real as that normally felt for a beloved cousin or uncle. And stories like these are anything but rare.
Last summer, Wisconsin author Thomas Hapka teamed up with “Bring Back Brett Favre” founder Erick Rolfson and his brother Adam to create “Letters To Brett Favre: A Fan Tribute,” a unique paperback tribute to the ancient great Packer, made up entirely of moving messages. of his fans. Hapka and the Rolfsons had hoped to collect 100 letters for their project when they posted an application on their website, but more than 2,000 messages poured in from around the world.
“The moment our post hit the website, the heavens opened up,” Hapka said. “People have sent us some really amazing letters, talking about Brett as if he’s stopped by their house on vacation every year. Others credit Brett with inspiring them to overcome cancer, unemployment…even deaths in the family or friends. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’m pretty sure it would make an interesting case study for a psychologist or sociologist.”
So where does this unusual fascination with a complete stranger come from? Perhaps it’s because Favre has lived most of his football life in front of the cameras, sharing not only his triumphs on the pitch, but also his personal struggles. From his wife’s cancer diagnosis to the death of his father to his family’s brush with Hurricane Katrina, Favre’s most personal and painful challenges played out in living rooms across America, and those challenges were alike. much to those of ordinary working people.
Whatever the reason, Favre has earned the intense personal loyalty of fans across the country and around the world. Although many in the sports world have fans, the Favre phenomenon easily transcends the normal affection one tends to bestow on sports celebrities.
But not everyone is ready to throw a lovefest for Packer’s former caller. Some have grown weary of Favre’s ongoing retirement saga. For those who missed it (there can’t be more than two or three of you) he tearfully retired from the Packers and then wanted to come back. Turned down by Green Bay, he accepted a trade to the Jets, but tried again after one season. Then, after being courted by the Vikings earlier this summer, he turned them down and announced that he would remain retired, only to change his mind and return after all. Through it all, an increasingly angry sect of sports fans has emerged, upset with Favre’s perceived indecisiveness and selfishness.
Yet those who admire Favre and those who claim to loathe him are united in a common dynamic: their inability to look the other way. ESPN broadcasts and Internet posts on Favre’s state of play consistently draw substantial audiences, and newspapers featuring Favre updates continue to pour out of the stands. Bloggers and other sports fans from cyberspace continue to drive traffic by sharing their sentiments about the three-time league MVP with the masses online.
Favre’s life and career have become something of a sports opera that countless fans from all walks of life simply cannot get enough of. That drama will no doubt take another exciting turn when Favre takes on his former team for the first time as a Viking in Minnesota on Oct. 5. It should be interesting material for all those psychologists and sociologists.
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