As the calender page turns to August we are faced with annual absolutes about our existence: school is around the corner, the Chicago Cubs are playing out the string and Brett Favre is wishy-washy about playing football.
This is what the ticker tapes at ESPN would have you believe. Here is a snapshot of what was reported Tuesday and Wednesday on Favre's latest retire-back:
*He sent text messages to teammates saying he would not be playing this year
*No teammate actually confirmed the text messages were sent
*Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress says he hasn't heard from Favre. Now, if he were retiring, don't you think Childress would be the most reliable source?
Yet ESPN's 24-hour ticker rolled on, reporting other reports saying Favre had decided to retire. Still, no one could confirm whom was saying this. What we do know is Favre himself hadn't said a word. But did that stop reporters from asking teammates what they thought of Favre retiring? Of course not. Finally, Wednesday afternoon, ESPN reporter Ed Werder reported he'd had actual contact with Favre. Shockingly, Favre told him he hadn't made up his mind yet.
So where does this leave us?
In the same place we were 48 hours ago, the same place were were last year or even two years ago with the Lady GaGa of sports. We know nothing. Yet we can't get enough of the story.
I could bash ESPN for spoon-feeding us this nonsense. You could argue they create the melodrama year after year by running with it like TMZ runs with anything Lindsey Lohan. But that would be too easy. After all, ESPN is a content provider, so aren't they just doing their job?
No, I think the media fascination with Favre mirrors that of the general public; This is a man unlike any we have seen in sports. We throw around platitudes in sports, referring to athletes' humanity because 'they wear their hearts on their sleeves.'
This guy not only wears it on his sleeve, he sweats it, breathes it and rolls around in it.
Favre's annual tap dance with football is an agonizing adventure, one of painful soul-searching both physically and mentally. These sentences must race through his subconscious minute-by-minute:
I want to play.
No I don't.
I don't want to put my body through another season.
I have to play. What else will I do with my life
How can we not be transfixed by this man's anguish?
His out-in-the open, wildly public indecisiveness is exactly why he is a cross-over celebrity. Love him or hate him, we dig his humanity. We secretly wish we could reveal our emotions so candidly.
Like every August for the past three years, no one knows whether Favre will play this season or not. But until he makes up his mind, ESPN will be reporting every thread of minutia.
And we will be watching.