Could a black athlete get away with Brett Favre's behavior?

OPINION - It still seems odd that the national public hasn't completely turned on him for being -- for lack of a better term -- a selfish diva...

It seems Brett Favre can do no wrong.

It’s becoming routine every summer for Favre to publicly contemplate retirement, waver between coming back or leaving for good, and then eventually decide he’ll play another year of football.

This year proved no different, as the Minnesota Vikings quarterback and future Hall of Famer was “convinced” by teammates to come back and try to win a Super Bowl. For the last three days, we’ve heard constant updates about Favre’s status for this season. We were finally relieved on Wednesday, when it was “officially” announced that Favre would play another year.

This is the third straight summer that we’ve been forced to go through the Brett Favre circus. It’s become a joke, where every year we roll our eyes and give smug remarks about whether Favre will come back again or not.

A couple of weeks ago Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco asked teammate Terrell Owens via twitter why Favre is allowed to bask in media attention without criticism, but when they do it, they are mocked or worse, vilified. I agree with Ochocinco; if he or Owens ever made a production over a retirement decision like this, they would get blasted by every football writer and football fan in America.

But let’s take it a step further. Ochocinco and Owens are viewed as prima donna wide receivers, so maybe it wouldn’t be a surprise for those two to get criticized if they ever did something like this.

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In 2006, Michael Strahan wavered on whether he would play again for the New York Giants and didn’t return until after training camp. Critics said he was selfish and hurting his team. This year, Darrelle Revis — the best cornerback in the game and arguably the best defensive player in all of football — is holding out for a new contract, and being painted by some as a villain for putting his team’s Super Bowl chances in jeopardy.

What if reigning Defensive Player of the Year Charles Woodson told the Green Bay Packers in February he needed time to decide if he would come back, then finally showed up in August? And can you imagine the national reaction Donovan McNabb would get if he ever even considered pulling a stunt like this?

Or what if Favre had went through this entire process and decided to retire? Would he have drawn the same ire as LeBron James did for abandoning his city and the fans that support him? (A quick look at this poll by The Orlando Sentinel may answer that question).

I’m in no way excusing LeBron’s actions, as he should’ve handled his decision to go to Miami much differently. But LeBron’s public waffling and decision made him public enemy No. 1 in America right now. Favre’s waffling got him a pay raise from the Vikings and his decision made most football fans thrilled that they’ll get to see him play again.

For whatever reason, Brett Favre seems to always get a pass. There are sarcastic comments made by fans and some negative stories written by writers, but rarely does the entire national perception of Favre turn to negative.

Favre was exceptional last year, and maybe that earns him some leeway. He plays an entertaining brand of football and “plays like a kid.” He’s friends with most of the media members that cover him. He’s got a Super Bowl ring and is one of the best players to ever play the most visible and glamorous position in football. He’s the All-American football player — with his Southern drawl and Wrangler Jeans — just having fun out there.

But it still seems odd that the national public hasn’t completely turned on him for being — for lack of a better term — a selfish diva. What other players, if any, could get away with this type of behavior in the NFL?

It’s probably partly a race thing…it’s doubtful that an African-American player could ever do something like this and not get taken to task for it. At the same time, I doubt there are many white players that could behave like this either.

Favre said in a press conference on Wednesday that this will be, in fact, his last year. After 20 years, he now knows it’s time to hang it up after this season.

It’s hard to ever take him at his word at this point. Just know that if and when we go through this same charade next season, the public won’t turn on Favre for his behavior.

Instead we’ll probably just chuckle, roll our eyes and say “That’s just Brett being Brett.”