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The following article is rated PG-13, as in Probably Going 13 Pages if it were put into a single article. It has been formatted to be presented in two to three installments.'
Today, it is finished. One stays, and one goes.
NFL quarterback Brett Favre was traded from the Green Bay Packers to the New York Jets. Midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo will stay at Manchester United in the English Premier League for the upcoming season. Sounds pretty simple, yes? Trades happen in the NFL all the time, and Ronaldo didn't go anywhere. So what's the big deal?
They are each at the center of two of the biggest, most annoying, compelling, fascinating and remarkably overblown sports "storylines" of my lifetime. They are two superstars in their respective sports, playing for teams with rabid fan bases and coming off very successful seasons. What ensued during this summer can only be described as absurd. There was drama, comedy, horror and romance, all rolled into one salacious "development" after another. You can not make this stuff up.
It's not a movie, but it damn well could be. So here it is, an IMDB entry of sorts, for two stories that thankfully just came to an end.
As if they really matter...
Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA. Snowy. Cheesy. Flat. Football mecca.
Manchester, England, United Kingdom. Industrial. Fish and chippy. Old school. Soccer mecca.
New York, New York, USA. Metropolitan. Big Apple-y. Bustling. Everything mecca.
Madrid, Spain. Fashionable. Spicy. Exotic. Cultural mecca.
THE LEADING MEN
Two skilled athletes, two enormous personalities, two sets of adoring fans, two stories that never should have happened in the first place.
Brett Lorenzo Favre, a 38-year-old cowboy from Mississippi, has solidified his status as one of the greatest players in NFL history. But it is his attitude and approach to the game that has earned him the admiration of football fans, experts and "objective" journalists alike. He has not missed a start in 15 years. His southern charm never left his soul, even in the pastures of Wisconsin. He is the essence of Americana--overcoming his demons, sporting blue jeans, t-shirts and baseball caps, making fart jokes with a scruffy southern drawl, and fishing and hunting in the offseason. Despite his age, his performance in 2007 was hailed as a renaissance and a treasure in the chest of his former mediocrity. He plays the game like a kid! He's having so much fun! He's such a tough guy! ALL HAIL KING BRETT, Y'ALL!
Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro, a 23-year-old from Madiera, Portugal, is one of the best soccer players in the world. He has won consecutive Player of the Year awards in the Premier League, and led Manchester United to the Premier League and UEFA Champions League titles in 2008. His flamboyant arrogance and obscene confidence seem to coincide with his style of play...quick, relentless, deceptive, lethal. His coach often refers to him as a boy. His on-the-field excellence is matched by his off-the-field exploits, jet-setting through Europe with one WAG after another, a sculpted physique glistening with diamonds and sweat. Despite his heavily accented English, he is never at a loss for words.
THE SUPPORTING CAST
Minor characters, major players
The Alliterators: Packers Coach Mike McCarthy, GM Ted Thompson, President Mark Murphy. They must have been the favorite kids in English class.
Mr. Rodgers: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. Nemesis to Favre, friendly California dude to everyone else.
Knight in Shining Red: ManU manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Scottish father figure and voice of reason.
El Rey de Futbol: Real Madrid owner Ramon Calderon. Relentlessly talking head, desires Ronaldo more than female soccer fans.
THE PLOT (OR LACK THEREOF)
Keep in mind, if Favre hadn't retired or Ronaldo had kept his mouth shut, none of this would have happened.
In March, the tears were real. He tried to control them, but his emotions were too raw, too strong, too perfect. The man who loves football more than anyone was leaving behind what defines his status as a legend. It's impossible to picture him doing anything else. Then, in the heat of the summer, with baseball in full swing but not much else on the sporting landscape, he voices his desire to return. Apparently he never wanted to stop, and his doubts were always there. The Alliterators have already moved on with Mr. Rodgers as the replacement to the irreplaceable. He wanted to control his destiny, but the Packers were aware destiny played Green Bay twice a year. A stalemate. An impasse. A complete mess.
In May, the tears were real. He did not try to control them, as he lay on the pitch, an impeccable face buried in his muddied hands. His body shook with unadulterated joy and unimaginable relief. After missing a penalty that could have won his squad the title, his team was saved by a slip of a boot and a two-handed swat from a flying Dutchman. Then, after a disappointing turn at the European Championships, an owner of Spanish giants came beckoning for his services, promising new challenges, a team closer to home, and the largest salary in soccer history. He insists it's been a dream of his to play in Spain, but Manchester United insist the player is not for sale. Sex. Lies. Paella.
STAY TUNED FOR A DENOUEMENT OF MADDEN COVERS, REDHEADED REPORTERS IN RED-HOT PURSUIT, TEXT MESSAGES, LOQUACIOUS GIRLFRIENDS, MODERN SLAVERY AND RAFAEL NADAL...