Brett Favre & Ryan Braun: A Double Standard In How Athletes Are Viewed

brett favre hanging head

An interesting thing happened at Miller Park Monday afternoon.

Brewers slugger Ryan Braun received a standing ovation from the crowd during the team’s home opener.

Not exactly stunning news, as Braun is the best player on the Brewers, arguably one of the best in the major leagues.

Except this is also the same Ryan Braun who was suspended for 65 games last season after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. This suspension has forever tarnished his image, and no matter what Braun does or says going forward, he will always have this hanging over his head.

Despite this black mark on his reputation, he still received a standing ovation from the fans.

This got me thinking-how many of those who cheered for Braun still view former Packers quarterback as a pariah?

Ryan Braun was caught cheating playing the game he receives millions of dollars to play. That is a fact. Granted there are some questionable circumstances about exactly how he was found guilty of doing this, but the fact is (at least in the eyes of baseball brass) that he is guilty of cheating.

And as a welcome back to the game, he received a standing ovation from Brewers fans.

What exactly did Brett Favre do to be shunned by many of the Packer faithful, six years since leaving the Packers and four since retiring once and for all from the NFL?

Did he act like a diva who could do no wrong? You could say that.

Was he guilty of needing to feel wanted by the Packers organization, even after everything he had accomplished on the field? Perhaps.

Was he guilty of trying to angle his way out of Green Bay and to Minnesota, which led to a very messy divorce between himself and the Packers? Yes, although both sides could have done things differently to prevent much of the messiness.

Did he eventually wind up playing for the hated rival Vikings? Yes

But here is the key question: was Favre ever found guilty of cheating while playing the game? No.

So why is Favre still viewed in such a negative light by so many Packers fans?

Because he wanted out of Green Bay at the end of his career? Because he wanted to play for a rival? Because he never thanked the fans for his time in Green Bay?

Last time I checked none of these were suspension worthy acts by a professional athlete. Selfish acts maybe, but worthy of a suspension and permanent black eye on a professional record? No way.

In fact, based on the reaction Braun received yesterday, it seems as though fans are much more forgiving of him than Favre, and that is odd.

It should be noted that I have no vested interest in the Brewers or Ryan Braun. My team of choice (Yankees) has more than their fair share of issues that I have my own opinions about. But the difference in how Braun was received and how Favre continues to be viewed by many is head scratching.

I wonder how many of those who stood and cheered for Braun yesterday would boo Favre the day he returns to Lambeau Field? Isn’t that a double standard in how the two athletes are viewed?

Help me understand why these two athletes are seen in such different lights by many of the same people.

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John Rehor is a writer at PackersTalk.com.

He can also be heard as one of the Co-Hosts of Cheesehead Radio.

You can follow John on twitter at jrehor or email him at johnrehor@yahoo.com.

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24 Responses to Brett Favre & Ryan Braun: A Double Standard In How Athletes Are Viewed

  1. Ross Uglem says:

    As far as I’m concerned I doubt that Favre will be booed at Lambeau when they retire his number. Just my opinion.

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    • John Rehor says:

      I disagree. I believe cheers will outnumber the boos, but there will still be audible boos. We will find out at some point who is correct, but I’d be willing to bet some will go to that particular game just to boo Favre.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. Adam Czech says:

    People are supportive of their hometown team and the players on that team. Look at Johnny Jolly. He made bad decisions, got suspended, hurt both himself AND his team, and was welcomed back with open arms by the vast majority of Packers fans.

    If the Brewers had traded Braun after his suspension, he would’ve been booed unmercifully in his return to Miller Park.

    Yes, a lot of the hostility toward Favre when he returned to Lambeau had to do with the messiness of his final days in Green Bay, but a lot of it also had to do with the fact that he was the Vikings QB.

    I don’t think the Favre/Braun reactions are a double standard. It’s just supporting your hometown guys. Most of us have a blindspot when it comes to our favorite teams/players.

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    • John Rehor says:

      I’ll agree with all but the last paragraph of your comment Adam.

      I’m a die hard Yankee fan-and despise Alex Rodriguez. Hated it when they traded for him, hated his actions around the PED scandal. Hated because he thought he was above everything. Even after he admitted using PEDs, it didn’t change my opinion of him.

      Could his actions, which somewhat similar to Favre’s, be part of the reason some dislike Favre?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

      • Adam Czech says:

        So when ARod came to bat for the Yankees, you would boo? Hope that he struck out? Turn the game off?

        I guess I’m trying to figure out what people think the reaction should have been to Braun yesterday. If I were at the game, I wouldn’t have given him a standing ovation, but I would have cheered him on and hoped that he did something to help the Brewers win like I’d cheer on the other players and hope they did something to help the Brewers win.

        That’s maybe a little tricky to compare to any potential reaction Favre might get at Lambeau because there is nothing Favre can do any more to help the Packers achieve on-field success.

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        • John Rehor says:

          Luckily I won’t have to deal with that this year ;)

          If I was at the game, I would have had your reaction-cheer, then move on hoping the team won. Would I have been part of a standing ovation? No way.

          And you are right that Favre can no longer help the Packers, while Braun can still help the Brewers. But the question remains why are/were the Brewers fans so quick to forgive Braun, while many have not and cannot forgive Favre?

          We may never know, probably never will.

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  3. Jamin Ver Velde says:

    As a Packer and Brewer fan, I will take the bait.

    First of all, we live in the here and now. Ryan Braun is still a hometown player who the Brewers and fans need to contribute — and contribute now. We don’t need Favre to contribute anymore.

    Second, there was a confession and apology from Braun. He has gotten past the victim mentality, served his suspension, and owned up to his mistakes. We have not heard that from Favre. Instead, Favre has loved to play the victim of an organization ever since he was told he was welcome back to late spring tryouts to try to reclaim his starting role. The fact that he expected the entire organization to put everything on hold until he made certain decisions is an indication of his ego. It’s his ego to blame for his wish to play for the Vikings so he could prove everyone how valuable he was. I have never heard Favre come out and say in retrospect he wished he would have handled things better. I think he still has some pride to swallow. If he is ever able to come to terms and apologize to the Packers and the fans, I do believe that most ill feelings will be forgiven.

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    • John Rehor says:

      So if Favre were to apologize to the fans, would this make a difference? He already said he was to blame for the divorce. Would a formal apology mean anything?

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      • Jamin Ver Velde says:

        If Favre has made an apology, I was not aware of it. I think a sincere, public apology would go a long way.

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        • John Rehor says:

          I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was an apology-more of an admission of fault during their divorce:

          http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/sports/210511271.html?ipad=y

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          • Jamin Ver Velde says:

            The admission of fault was a great step. But I believe more could/should be done. Wisconsin sports fans might feel more cheated by Favre than Braun because of the history.

            What do I mean by that? I’m talking about Favre’s tendency to wear everything on his sleeve. He was this guy that fans fell in love with not just because of his great play on the field, but also because of his willingness to combine that with his fragility and transparency off the field. This was the superman who willingly changed into Clark Kent in press conferences and interviews to reveal his struggles with pain meds and his affection for his wife and her struggles. But, he didn’t do this in dealing with the Packers split. He never took off his cape. Fans never got to see a real glimpse of his human side again.

            Fans did not have this history with Braun. In fact, his eventual willingness to fess up to his mistakes and yearn for forgiveness and paying his debt have likely made Braun more likable and endearing to fans in Miller country. We now see Braun as a human as well. And that is an attractive quality.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

    • Mike says:

      I’m still curious why Packers fans feel Favre owes them an apology.

      Favre’s crime is that he couldn’t make up his mind when to quit. That’s it. None of the Packers off-season moves were affected by Favre’s indecision for the previous two years. They drafted Rogers, then built a younger team through the draft, and passed on big name free agents that Favre pushed for. I can’t think of a single move that Ted Thompson made (or didn’t make) that was affected by Favre’s indecision.

      If Thompson had dumped all of his pricey free agents after Favre retired, and then Favre suddenly un-retired…then I could see some outrage. Or if Thompson had completely redesigned the team around Rogers, and then suddenly Favre unretires and wants the starting job back…then I could understand the outrage. But the reality is that under Rogers the Packers returned 20 of 22 starters from the year before under Favre. In other words, the Packers’ decision where entirely unaffected by Favre’s will-he-won’t-he retirement drama.

      In point of fact, it was the Packers that flew down to Mississippi to try to keep Favre retired. It was the Packers who said Favre could compete for the job then back peddled when he actually showed up for training camp and told him not to report. It was the Packers that gave him the option of two cellar-dwellars (Bucs/Jets) to be traded to. And it was the Packers that blocked him from going to the only team in the NFL that (a) was a playoff contender, (b) needed a QB, (c) had cap space, and (d) ran the WCO.

      If I were Favre, I would say “screw you” to the Lambeau crowd and retire a Viking.

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      • John Rehor says:

        FWIW I don’t think he owes anyone an apology. Think his admission of fault in the divorce last summer should have been adequate. But I only speak for myself. Can’t speak for everyone else. And as for retiring a Viking-really hope that doesn’t happen. I highly doubt that it does. If anything the Packers organization would not let that happen. That would alienate far too many fans if that were to happen, and they are too smart to let that happen.

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        • Jim Heezen says:

          Two different scenarios. If you remember Farve was abusing painkillers and when he came back from rehab, fans welcomed him back with open arms. The problem with his retirement and then wanting to come back is he expected the packers and their fans to be overjoyed and he should be the starting quarterback and Rodgers should just go back to riding the bench. When that did’nt happen his ego took over and he did everything he could to stick it to the packers and their fans.

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

          • John Rehor says:

            This may be true, but what does it have to do with the topic at hand? Why are some so quick to forgive Braun but not forgive Favre?

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  4. Mike says:

    John,

    You are absolutely correct. I wondered the exact same thing this morning when I learned that the folks in Millwaukee applauded Braun.

    Even if Favre is guilty of everything the Packers fans accused him of, it’s not worse than what Braun did.

    I find the Packers fans’ hatred of Favre irrational, like the guy who dumps his long-time girlfriend but doesn’t want her to date anyone else.

    Favre was 38 years old when he retired; but unlike the myriad of Quarterbacks before him that retired at 38 (see Joe Montana, John Elway, Dan Marino, and many others) Favre still had gas left in the tank. The Packers tried to keep him off the market, then when he called their bluff they traded him to a cellar dweller. That’s fine repayment for a guy who gave you 16 years of his career.

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  5. Aaron Carlson says:

    I think the difference is that the Packers will always be the #1 sport in this state, and Favre had achieved almost God-like reverence. When he split, it was considered spiteful and most fans were affected in some way by it. As well-liked as Braun is/was, he has never come close to achieving Favre-like popularity in WI. When his whole deal went down, I think most people felt not much more than just disappointment. Combine that with his late apology, I think most people forgave him and probably had at least partially forgotten about his troubles by the time the season started. I bet if you took a poll today, who would you rather have dinner with, the majority of WI residents would pick Favre over Braun.

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  6. Richard Kapala says:

    Favre retired way too many times. Maybe management should have given him more to work with to get another Super Bowl but it is what it is. In a nasty divorce the kids( fans) get hurt & sometimes bitter, with only 16 games in regular season fans can be more emotional . I love what Brett Favre did for my team & would love to see hi respected like the other Green Bay heros

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    • John Rehor says:

      So because Braun plays more games in a season, and still plays for the Brewers, it is easier to forgive him? Is that what you are hinting at?

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  7. […] Rehor wrote a throught-provoking piece about Ryan Braun receiving a standing ovation on Brewers’ opening day and how Braun’s […]

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  8. PackerNation says:

    Favre called up the Detroit coaches and gave them tips on how to beat the Packers. He attempted to plant false and derogatory stories in the media about the organization’s General Manager. He insulted the fan base by saying “one year in Minnesota is like 10 in Green Bay”. He has stated that he doesn’t care if his number is retired or not. He was fined by the NFL Commissioner for his lack of cooperation in an investigation of sexual harassment.

    On the merits, he doesn’t deserve the same honor which has been accorded to Hutson, Canadeo, Starr, Nitschke, and White. These people all made contributions to the organization that extended far beyond the playing field or their own personal records.

    His achievements will put him in the HOF. That’s where he belongs. But his dishonorable conduct towards the organization makes him a poor candidate to receive the organization’s highest honor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

    • John Rehor says:

      I’m going to respond to a few of your comments individually.

      “Favre called up the Detroit coaches and gave them tips on how to beat the Packers.” And I would bet this happens throughout the league, but because it involved Favre it became news.

      “He attempted to plant false and derogatory stories in the media about the organization’s General Manager.” He acted like a child during the divorce. And so did the Packers. But that’s another story for another time.

      “He insulted the fan base by saying “one year in Minnesota is like 10 in Green Bay”.” I honestly never heard this before. Do you have a link to this? Because if he did say it I would like to see in what context.

      “He has stated that he doesn’t care if his number is retired or not.” Can only speculate that is a matter of pride for him, that he doesn’t need that to represent what his career consisted of.

      “He was fined by the NFL Commissioner for his lack of cooperation in an investigation of sexual harassment.” Have no response to this, other than an innocent person would most likely cooperate.

      But the topic is not whether he deserves to have his number retired. The topic is why is Braun so readily accepted back, while Favre is still shunned by many. Your points are good points, and would support why some would feel that way. But would you accept him back based on on his the field actions while a member of the Packers?

      Think this last part is being missed by many.

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  9. […] last season caused John to say that there is a double standard in how athletes are viewed, and how Packers fans view Brett Favre is proof of […]

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  10. adroge says:

    I’ll chime in and try to answer the question to the best of my ability. So here goes nothing….

    1.Football vs. Baseball. Football is a much bigger deal.

    2.Packers vs. Brewers. Packers are a much bigger deal. Because of the past and the popularity of the sport, packers fans tend to take things much more seriously than would a Brewers fan. Remember, there are simple Sunday night football games that get better ratings than the world series games.

    3.People from Wisconsin seem to take the “character” of player in a very serious matter. Packers fans really want the players to be nice guys. For whatever reason it seems really important to them. You can make a mistake and be sorry for it but it is not acceptable to be an self absorbed ass!! Nobody wants to cheer for a Terrell Owens.

    4. Deceit!! If you don’t understand why Brett Favre was liked as much as he was, then you won’t understand why he is hated as much as he is. What made Brett Favre the face of the franchise as well as the face of the NFL, was who people perceived him to be. After 1997 Brett Favre was never once the best quarterback in the league. In fact he was never that close. Yet he was still the face of the league because people saw him as a down to earth, humble, hometown kind of guy who said all the right things and played for all the right reasons. His personality and his perception among fans were as much a part of his legend as was his accomplishments on the field. What happened after his divorce with the packers was that he exposed himself for who he really was. He wasn’t even close to the type person people thought he was. This part of his legendary status will never recover. His personality was an act. I’m sure a lot of packers fans felt cheated or duped in believing he was something other than what he was.

    5. Where I grew up packers fans really hate the Vikings!! And when I say hate, I mean HATE!! It is real factor in their lives. They have to deal with Vikings fans in their everyday lives and it makes these matters all the more important. So for some people it is as simple as that, he played for the Vikings he is a traitor. It doesn’t mean that is a rational view, but if you grew up where I did and understand how people involve football in their everyday lives, you would easily understand how something that simple made a lot of people dislike Favre.

    6.Respect!! Greg Jennings had a lot of problems with Rodgers and the packers organization. He was more than happy to share them publicly. But he didn’t involve the fans. He took out an add in the paper to thank Green Bay fans for cheering for him. That’s respect. Favre simply showed he did not care about Green bay or it’s fans. It just didn’t matter to him. People will cheer for me wherever I go what does it matter who it is. Again, people is Wisconsin don’t care for that type of attitude. Had he done what Jennings has done he would have saved himself some respect. When you show respect and appreciation you get that in return.

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