By Kerry J. Byrne
Cold, Hard Football Facts doctor of infectious diseases
The gridiron graveyard is filled with the pathetic victims of Old Yeller Fever.
Brad Childress is the latest, as the Vikings fired their once-promising head coach
on Monday, in the wake of consecutive blowout losses to division rivals. Minnesota was smacked around 27-13 by the Bears last week. The Vikes were smoked 31-3 by the Packers this week.
BrettFavre, naturally, played poorly in both losses. But he's still there. Chilly's all gone. Maybe he and Eric Mangini can form a support group. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is the interim head coach. And in a truly bizarre twist, BrettFavre is reportedly mulling his future here on the eve of Thanksgiving.
Old Yeller Fever is the only explanation for this series of events.
Black Buboes of Hype and a Brief History of Old Yeller Fever
For those of you devoid of the brilliant medical research provided by the Cold, Hard Football Facts over the years, here's the quick diagnosis of Old Yeller Fever
It's a disease that infects fans, "pundits" and team executives and fills their fragile little minds with the fervent belief
that BrettFavre is the only quarterback capable of leading their team to a Super Bowl, despite a decade of evidence to the contrary. The truth, as you know, is that BrettFavre is a big-game liability and has been for nearly a decade. The evidence is overwhelming.
Yet victims of Old Yeller Fever, you guessed it: they can't handle the truth!
He was the best dog on the prairie and he won three straight MVP awards, two straight NFC titles and a Super Bowl. Everybody loved BrettFavre, much like 12-year-old Travis loved Old Yeller in the Disney yarn.
But even pre-pubescent Travis had enough sense to know when Old Yeller had outlived his usefulness. The tear-jerker ends when Travis puts a bullet between rabid Old Yeller's eyes.
If only we football fans had been so lucky and somebody had put BrettFavre out of his misery – proverbially speaking of course.
After all, it's been a long time since BrettFavre was the best quarterback on the prairie. Hell, he's not even the best quarterback in Eden Prairie.
Old Yeller Fever was first diagnosed in Green Bay, Wisconsin in the early 2000s. It spread to Bristol, Conn. sometime around 2003. Today, Chris Berman and most of the staff at ESPN are still infected with the hideous buboes of hype that we Ph.Fs (doctors of footballogy) use to identify the most advanced victims of Old Yeller Fever.
There are other ways to tell: For example, if an announcer proclaims that BrettFavre is "just having fun out there" after his third INT in the same game, that person is rabid with Old Yeller Fever. Stay far away. Head immediately ColdHardFootballFacts.com for the antidote.
ESPN sideline reporter Michelle Tafoya had a notable public bout with Old Yeller Fever in 2004 when, during the first BrettFavre Farewell Tour
, she waxed poetically about his "great strides as a human being."
Ugh! If only somebody had shot us between the eyes that night.
Despite the evidence that BrettFavre was a liability, Packers fans were consumed by the belief that they couldn't live without him. Management somehow cured itself of Old Yeller Fever after the 2007 season; after yet another campaign in which BrettFavre cost his team a shot at the Super Bowl with bad passes and critical mistakes
in the biggest game of the year.
But Green Bay had a young QB on the bench and some guys with cojones in management. So the Packers stepped boldly into the future. They remain the only organization on record that cured itself of Old Yeller Fever. Today, the Packers are 7-3, tied for first in the NFC North and fresh off their 31-3 whupping of BrettFavre and the Vikings.
The Jets were then consumed by Old Yeller Fever in 2008. Fans, including apparently grown men, raced out like clowns and snapped up BrettFavre jerseys, under the curious belief that an aging old dog who had won a single Super Bowl 12 years earlier would somehow lead their organization to the promised land.
BrettFavre rewarded the Jets with a league-high 22 picks, a stretch-run collapse of Biblical proportions, and an ordinary 81.0 passer rating they could have got out of almost any second-string quarterback in the NFL for 1/10th the money.
Head coach Eric Mangini was victimized by Old Yeller Fever at the end of the season: he was canned by the Jets on the heels of the patented BrettFavre meltdown, much like Childress was on Monday.
The Jets organization came to its senses after BrettFavre "retired" from the team. They drafted a promising young quarterback and today they're 8-2 and tied for the best record in football. They beat BrettFavre and the Vikings 29-20 earlier this year.
Old Yeller Fever Strikes the Land of 10,000 Lakes
The Vikings were victimized by Old Yeller Fever in 2009. An organization that had never won a Super Bowl actually stepped back and said to itself:
"You know, maybe if we pick up an aging, mistake-prone, 40-year-old quarterback with a history of collossal meltdowns on the field and massive bouts of public indecision in the off-season, but who won a Super Bowl back in 1996, we might actually win one, too!"
Of course, as we told you it would in August 2009, it all ended badly for the Vikings in January 2010: BrettFavre made one of the most gruesome gaffes in playoff history
, single-handedly costing his team a shot at the Super Bowl, much like he did with the Packers for all those years.
Yet the pathetic Vikings were so infected with Old Yeller Fever that they held up everything again here in 2010, all in an effort to appease the mistake-prone BrettFavre. Players actually went to BrettFavre's home and begged him to return!
The Vikings literally sacrificed everything here in 2010 as BrettFavre did his annual "Dance of the Pondering Future" on national television each week. If only Bristol Palin were his dance partner, the world might have witnessed the perfect alignment of hype that Mayan astronomers said would foretell an apocalyptic end of time.
Minnesota over the past 10 months could have drafted a young quarterback, developed young players, and you know, kept a normal training camp schedule with its starting quarterback running the offense.
Instead, they were voluntary hostages to the hype (a classic symptom of Old Yeller Fever), entrapped by the pathetic hope that BrettFavre would suddenly become a Super Bowl quarterback at age 41. He's rewarded them with a league-high 17 INTs and 23 turnovers in just 10 games.
The Vikings today are 3-7 and in utter disarray. Fool the Vikings once, shame on you BrettFavre. Fool the Vikings twice, shame on them.
What Might Have Been if not for Old Yeller Fever
The worst part for Minnesota fans is that it's a sad, terrible and very predictable downfall from the promise of 2008.
The Vikings went 10-6 in 2008 and won the NFC North title. It was their best season since 2000. They had a good-looking coach in Childress, a super-stud running back in Adrian Peterson, a developing defense and a promising third-year quarterback in Tarvaris Jackson, who shared time that year with Gus Frerotte.
Jackson led the Vikings throughout December 2008, winning three of four games down the regular-season stretch.
Jackson largely played well that year: 9 TD, 2 INT and a great 95.4 passer rating. They're highly efficient numbers that typically lead to success. They're not numbers that put a guy in the Hall of Fame. But they are numbers you try to groom into a Super Bowl quarterback.
But then a few events came together: Jackson struggled in a 26-14 playoff loss to the Eagles. And his name's not BrettFavre. So Jackson didn't get a second (or third, or fourth or 10th) chance after a poor playoff outing. It was Jackson who was shunned by Vikings fans and management, when they should have shunned the disease-carrying rat in the hold of the ship.
And here's where it really went bad for the Vikings: BrettFavre "retired" from the Jets and the NFL after the 2008 season, soon after he got Eric Mangini fired from the Jets. But by the summer of 2009 BrettFavre hinted that he'd play again!
Old Yeller Fever now had its grips on the Vikings organization.
After a very public song and dance with BrettFavre, they gave up on all the promise of Childress, Jackson, Peterson and the 2008 season.
The put their quarterback of the future on the bench and they put everything in the butter-fingered hands of BrettFavre: a guy who had won a single Super Bowl 13 years earlier – a year, by the way, in which he was paired with the league's No. 1 scoring defense and arguably the best defensive lineman in modern history, Reggie White.
Now that promise lay in disaster: Everything else in Minnesota has collapsed around him. Yet BrettFavre is still standing.
The Vikings, from our perspective, have nobody to blame but themselves for the disaster of 2010. We told everybody, including the Vikings and their fans before the 2009 season, not to get consumed by Old Yeller Fever.
But like a buddy caught up in the fever of drugs, booze or an affair, victims of Old Yeller Fever never listen to anybody.