By all rights, I still ought to hate Brett Favre. I live in Wisconsin in a blue-collar cheesehead neighborhood where people still wince at the mention of his name. I even once worshipped the man in that uncomfortable way adult males idealize other adult male athletes. And, a few weeks ago, Favre torched my Packers and looked like the Favre of old, a betrayal of epic proportions. But something odd happened a few nights ago that cleansed me of my ephemeral hatred of the man.
Dreams are an easy conceit for writers, but I must confess that this dream is authentic, no doubt a product of afternoons of NFL football on the television and years of commercials layered over my psyche like paint. I had fallen into a deep sleep and at some point, late in the evening, I began dreaming.
The dream was cinematically vivid. In my dream, I was in a Wranglers commercial with Brett Favre. That Wranglers commercial. Surrounded by the guys I once played high school football with, we populated a moist, verdant football field somewhere in northern Wisconsin. Our coach was even there, pot-bellied and hoarse of voice. And I was the star of this Wranglers commercial. The soundtrack was loud Credence Clearwater Revival, and on the field, all of us laughed and grab-assed in a carefree way, but no two men more intimately or happily than Brett and I. He even leaned on me and talked trash into my ear. At one point, he might have lifted me off the earth, a la Donald Driver, my legs kicking fruitlessly in the autumn air.
I am aware that here the dream takes on a benign but decidedly PG “Brokeback” quality. But Brett and I were happy as two puppies playing. He was tossing me footballs and I was dropping into imaginary pockets, scanning the pitch for receivers, and lobbing out great rainbows that never failed to fall magically into the open fingers of my bygone adolescent friends. In this dream, my arm was as strong as Brett’s and he nodded at me in approval, his muzzle totally and beautifully gray. I smiled back appreciatively. My arm was a cannon and it was firing deep and dangerous bullet-fast strikes. In the dream, I am aware of the pleasure of hurting a tight-end’s hands with a blistering pass.
Later, we were walking across the field, sweaty and caked in mud, and Brett put his arm around me and said, “I got to tell you, Nick, why I left for Minnesota.”