As I planned some preview posts last week for Monday night's game, the natural angle seemed to be the historic trio of offensive weapons the Minnesota Vikings have assembled just in time for their matchup with the New York Jets. By Monday afternoon, however, that theme had been eclipsed by the rapidly escalating story surrounding allegations that quarterback Brett Favre sent racy messages and photographs to a former New York Jets sideline reporter.
The story has exploded for two reasons.
First, the NFL has acknowledged an aggressive investigation into the story and has the capacity to mandate a suspension if Favre has violated the league's personal conduct policy.
Second, sadly but without question, Favre has fueled the story by passing on two opportunities to deny involvement. Asked for comment last Thursday, Favre said: "I'm not getting into that. I've got my hands full with the Jets and am trying to get some timing down with our guys, so that's all I'm going to discuss."
Asked again Sunday night during an ESPN production meeting, Favre said: "My main focus is the New York Jets. They are a tough team; as good as they are, that has been my focus. I hate in any way if this has been a distraction. As I said Thursday, we are here focused on trying to beat the Jets."
Favre was asked point-blank if the original Deadspin.com report was accurate. His response: "That will take its course."
In a perfect world, public figures wouldn't have to deny a report to prevent people from making assumptions and drawing conclusions. Instead, they would be given the benefit of the doubt until information is confirmed.
When we first discussed this issue last week, I suggested that we hold back on making any final decisions until there was a confirmed connection between Favre and the text messages/photos. But it appears that battle is long lost, and Favre has played a substantial role in it.
Favre has been taking questions from reporters for more than half of his life and is fully versed in the cause and effect of everything he says or doesn't say. Believe me, he knows his answers on this topic haven't answered the question.
There is a big difference between a confirmation and a non-denial. But if these allegations are true, they could be the most damaging event of Favre's career. Even if they aren't true, they will inflict increasing damage the longer they exist in terms of reputation, endorsements and brand marketing. If Favre wasn't involved in these allegations, why wouldn't he have said so already?