Brett Favre, Mark Murphy, and the Perils of Willful Ignorance
Throughout the entire reconciliation saga, Brett Favre, Mark Murphy and all the elements favoring a Brett Favre reconciliation with the Green Bay Packers have indulged in willful ignorance that is truly breathtaking, acting as if that vendetta he waged by playing for our most hated rival never happened all. But none has been as shameless or as ill-advised as Monday’s press conference, where the Packers announced that Favre will enter the team’s Hall of Fame and have his number retired in 2015.
One online authority defines willful ignorance as “the state and practice of ignoring any sensory input that appears to contradict one’s inner model of reality,” as it is “almost certainly driven by confirmation bias.” In legal parlance, particularly in the realm of criminal law, it typically involves a criminal actor purposefully remaining ignorant of facts that, if known, would render him criminally liable for his actions, such as taking a package on an international flight for $10,000 and willfully refusing to inspect its contents. Hear no evil, see no evil.
Throughout the entire charade, a disinterested spectator, such as a person waking up from a six year coma, would have no reason to know that 2008 ever happened. Nor would he ever know that the ex-Packer orchestrated his way into playing for the Minnesota Vikings as part of some sort of sick personal vendetta against Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy and, most significantly of all, our Green Bay Packers by extension. There was nary a word or image of the man joining our most hated rival on Monday. This was followed by a myriad of softball questions from the press in attendance. The closest Favre came to even acknowledging what he did was saying that you cannot please everyone no matter what you do. Of course, had he simply retired a Packer, or even remained a New York Jet, he likely would be adored by virtually all Packers fans, proving that he could have pleased everyone if he gave a damn. Oh and then he indulged in that talk about how all true Packer fans will feel as he does.
Despite a long history of vitriolic, over-the-top ranting denouncing both the man and even the suggestion of reconciliation, at least before the man drops dead, I actually understand the rationale for reconciliation, provided such initiatives are not proffered by those who turned on their Green and Gold colors for those of the enemy. You know, those supposed Packers fans who were wearing Vikings jerseys not too long ago. I understand it, I just do not agree with it. Various comment sections, message boards, and social media all indicate such feelings are at least a sizable minority too large to simply ignore.
And yet this is what Murphy, Favre, and those pushing for this are doing. Such breathtaking displays of willful ignorance, acting as if the events between 2008 and 2010 never even happened, serve no one. It does nothing to achieve any sort of compromise, understanding or goodwill between different parties who see things differently. As it demonstrates remarkable arrogance, it plays those who refuse to be so deluded for fools. Much like a minor Simpsons character, Susan, who could not believe Marge Simpson took note of repeated efforts to humiliate her, the elements pushing for this are either clueless and out of touch, or simply do not care about how at least some feel about these shenanigans.
Truth is an indispensable prerequisite of reconciliation in any circumstance. Without an acknowledgement of truth, no matter what the circumstance, there can never be reconciliation. While things have not gone all that well in post-Apartheid South Africa despite extraordinary efforts in healing deep divisions within the country, it is nonetheless telling that the hallmark initiative to achieve goodwill, peace and understanding between aggrieved parties was called The TRUTH and Reconciliation Committee (emphasis added).
Which begs the question; how on god’s green earth can there be any meaningful reconciliation when these elements, including Favre, Murphy and on down the line will not so much as acknowledge the truth or the past, and will not even so much as mention it. No reference to calling the Lions to share details of the Packers playbook. No utterance or image of the man in Vikings uniform. No reference to his personal vendetta to “stick it to Green Bay” as he set forth a superhuman effort to make the Vikings Super Bowl champions and sabotage the eventual Super Bowl champion McCarthy-Rodgers era. No reference to the ex-Packer turned Viking telling Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher that he hopes they beat the Packers and thus knock us out of contention in the year we won Super Bowl XLV. Certainly no mention of the fact that is a veritable certainty that the man desperately wanted the Packers to lose Super Bowl XLV. Indeed, in a pregame radio special prior to the press conference, Alex Petakas of ESPN 540 even surmised that, should the Packers win the Super Bowl this year, that that would trigger the man’s resentment, and could even possibly derail this charade altogether.
Really? Favre, Murphy and their band of mousketeers expect us to cheer and welcome with open arms an ex-Packer, turned Viking, turned traitor who not so secretly holds a grudge to this day and still, in all likelihood, wants the Packers to fail in their bid to win another Lombardi Trophy? At the very least, it all comes to show that the man is no Bart Starr.
Admittedly, Favre was an integral, indispensable part of the Packers renaissance, as were to a perhaps greater extent Bob Harlan, Ron Wolf and Mike Holmgren, an obvious admission the Favreists uniformly omit in their gushing praise of the man. There are admittedly very good reasons as to why some sort of reconciliation should be achieved in time, even if that falls short of retiring his number, an honor reserved for very few who met a higher standard by not doing everything they could to ruin the Packers. However, such an understanding cannot possibly be achieved realistically provided that those favoring this continue to engage in such blatant white-washing of history so ridiculous it should not fool a 5-year-old. Despite the number of rabid Favreists who gush at every turn about the man, and uniformly entertain false analogies and even outright lies, some of us actually refuse to stick our heads in the sand in order to hide from what is in plain view for all the world to see.