Brett Favre, Short On Character, Not The Man We Want Our Sons To Emulate

The story of Victor Hugo is well known.

In the 1840s the writer was walking about when he noticed that a thin man was being taken away by police for stealing a loaf of bread. Hugo will turn that man, who had ragged clothes and human misery all over him into a most memorable book, Les Miserables. The poor man who just wanted bread for his family can be understood. The rich man who took money needed by those in poverty can only be scorned. This week one can only ponder how Hugo would have constructed a Brett Farve story based on the news coming out of Mississippi.

Favre was always less than what his image makers wished to make him.  His years in Green Bay as quarterback for the Green Bay Packers produced enough stories about his antics and shortcomings off the field to alert anyone listening that he was just another typical sports figure, certainly not a role model. Favre, as a married man, further lowered himself with his sexting scandal and redneckish ways.

The last nail in the coffin, however, for what constitutes Favre’s lack of character can be found in text messages made public last week. His conversations with utterly disgraced Mississippi nonprofit executive Nancy New, who has pled guilty to 13 felony counts concerning $77 million in funds from the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families which were improperly siphoned elsewhere in the Magnolia State are truly troubling.

For years Favre has simply denied he received roughly $1 million in welfare funds, the money I should not need to add which was to have been spent on folks who, oh, I don’t know, do not live in a mansion built from being an overpaid sports personality. Last week with the release of text messages we know Favre was not telling the truth. There is no doubt whatsoever that in 2017 Favre was most aware that monies he had no right to have, or use were being improperly channeled for his whims.

The reason this matter lands on CP is my concern about the lack of real heroes when it comes to the sporting world.  Since so much of our culture surrounds sports it seems we should have a bevy of men and women who today’s youth should be able to look up to and truly admire.  But that is not the case. As I read the accounts of Farve it struck me again how no parent would wish their son to emulate him.  I take no glee in that conclusion, but the facts are clear.

There is an old song recorded by Bill Anderson which sums up this mess with unseemly sports figures and our nation’s youth. Where Have All Our Heroes Gone has a few lines that make my point.

This country needs a lotta things today friends
But it doesn’t need any one thing anymore than it needs some real heroes

Men who know what it means to be looked up to by a griny faced kid
Men who want to sign autograph books and not deal under the table
Men who are willing to play the game with the people who made them heroes
Men who don’t mind putting on a white hat and saying thank you and please

I wish I knew more men that I’d be proud of for my son to look up to and say
Daddy when I grow up I want to be just-like-him (Where have all our heroes gone?)

Brett Farve should be asked that question in his next interview.

Aaron Rodgers Deserved His Moment With Karma In Green Bay

Simply put, if a person is a high-profile figure, they must not be rewarded with expressing anti-vaccination sentiments. Novak Djokovic was such an example. Aaron Rodgers is another example.

Insulting the intelligence of state residents, and undermining vaccination efforts within the demographics that look up to and follow Rogers hurt the efforts of the medical establishment to stem COVID. We are going into our third year of the pandemic and we needed to have all folks working for the needs of the larger community.

Rodgers refused.

Karma responded.

And so it goes.

Aaron Rodgers COVID-19 Editorial Cartoons

This week Wisconsin has had more than its fair share of the truly absurd.

Aaron Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19 and then the press reported the bombshell news that he refused to be vaccinated. In a radio interview, Rodgers stated that while not taking the scientific vaccines he does ingest a horse deworming agent. He also launched into the “woke mob” and said they were trying to “cancel” him. What galled this blogger the most was his attempt to use the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. to confirm why he should not be more conscientious towards the larger community when it comes to stopping the spread of the virus. My jaw surely dropped at my desk when that nugget came through my speakers.

Rodgers actually said the slain civil rights leader would have agreed that he had a “moral obligation to object to unjust rules and rules that make no sense.”

To liken King’s fight for justice and civil rights from housing to voting with a mere mandate from the NFL regarding vaccines and mask-wearing underscores the lack of depth Rodgers has for history, his selfish nature, and lack of character.

Clearly, Rodgers and his PR team missed their much-needed meeting prior to the radio chat. One has to wonder what consultant will need to construct a way to clean up his image after that all-out fiasco. Maybe wrapping Christmas presents for an afternoon at the local Salvation Army. Plus a very generous personal check.

The Rodgers episode has opened conversations about the virus in a loud and determined way across the state, and nation. My husband, James, and I remarked that it has been almost two years since we were at a restaurant. We have not traveled other than short afternoon jaunts for apples or fall produce. We have not rented our second-floor Victorian ($2,000 a month) for two years due to concerns about the virus. We have cousins, a niece in Central Wisconsin, and friends who are nurses and fully understand they have been stressed and over-worked for at least 20 months. We have not undertaken larger projects, nor spent the money to help stir the economy, due to not wanting to interact with others who very well may have the same mindset as Rodgers.

So when the state gets verbally exercised over the Rodgers matter it is based on the fact, that with the vaccines we should have already won this battle. We have the means to do so. All that is lacking is the willpower to achieve the end result. So when the top story in the state is a guy who has a large platform from which to do good and chooses to do exactly the opposite….yes, folks are properly ticked off.

Here then is an offering of how newspaper editorial pages view the Rodgers affair. Please note that Phil Hands, the creative cartoonist at the Wisconsin State Journal and always a favorite here, makes the point with perfect clarity.

Aaron Rodgers Proves He Is No Elvis Presley, Vaccine Fear Is Not Sign Of Leadership

The news this week that Aaron Rodgers contracted COVID-19 has shined a light on someone that many considered to be a role model in this state. That image, however, took a mighty hit after it was revealed his unwillingness to be vaccinated, and his lack of candor and forthrightness while playing in the NFL. The cavalier attitude about the necessity of being vaccinated in a pandemic is shocking.

I firmly believe that if a person seeks to be elevated in the public eye through sports, entertainment, or some other noteworthy undertaking where the young people of the nation look up and offer admiration then they better walk straight and be worthy of the accolades.

We now know that Arron Rodgers did not speak honestly about being vaccinated. He promoted his alternate treatment other than the vaccine. He contended that allowed him to be “immunized”. That is patently absurd on the face of it. Homeopathic remedies are not an antidote to COVID. Shame on him for trying to use such a sham to cover his lack of responsibility to his team and the larger community in which he lives.

The Washington Post spared no words this morning in an article that leaves no doubt how the writer felt.

Lord knows Rodgers is inventive with the football, but of all the dodging, narcissistic, contrived moves. “Yeah, I’m immunized,” he said, so artificially, when asked in the preseason whether he was vaccinated. That was a lie by omission. And not just a single lie but a daily willful deception along with a weirdly callous charade. On multiple occasions he went into postgame news conferences — which tend to be closely packed, fetid affairs — unmasked. And there should be some queries about the steam and sauna and rehab rooms, too.

I would argue that since Rodgers was not vaccinated then the Packers, as an organization, have not been following the NFL sanctioned protocols. The New York Times made that most clear in their account with the Rodgers story.

For instance, unvaccinated players are required to undergo daily testing, wear masks inside the team’s headquarters, and travel separately from their vaccinated teammates. They are also prohibited from engaging in a host of activities, from gathering outside team headquarters in groups of more than three players to attending house parties or bars without wearing personal protective equipment. Those who violate the protocols are subject to fines.

On my personal Facebook page, there were 23 comments about Rogers and his lack of responsibility. Greg Milward wrote one of the most straightforward comments.

Why didn’t he just come out and say he hadn’t gotten the vaccine instead of saying he was “immunized” by some mystery voodoo treatment. Did he have covid in the off-season and felt he was “immunized”? Then why not say it. He’s embarrassed he wasn’t vaccinated but wanted to play cutesy by hiding behind words. Be a man, Aaron, and speak your truth—-tell us why you weren’t vaccinated. Unfortunately, I am sure we will see many more Packers test positive. AT least he didn’t ruin Jeopardy by becoming the permanent host.

My bottom line is that Aaron Rogers is an absolute embarrassment in leadership to our state and the youth who admire him. With his actions, he needs to ask what message does he send with his refusal to get the vaccine? What message does he send to the medical professionals in the state who have been maxed out with stress and duties due to chuckleheads who refuse the vaccine?

I have written about how role models could be very useful in promoting taking the COVID vaccine. I posted on CP how in 1956 Elvis was termed an influencer for his efforts with getting a nation vaccinated against polio. He stepped up, took the vaccine and the photo was still being used by the Wall Street Journal earlier this year as a way to demonstrate how our country could act again.

I placed that photo at the top of the post showing Elvis doing his part for the nation and wonder why Rogers could not see the role he, too, could have played to allow for some to be more reassured about the COVID vaccine.

One thing is most clear.

Aaron Rogers is no Elvis Presley.

And so it goes.

Why It Matters NFL Player Carl Nassib Announced He Is Gay

I rarely address sports related issues on this blog. But the news from Carl Nassib is such that it merits a posting tonight.

The Raiders defensive lineman came out in a statement posted to his Instagram account, becoming the first active player in the National Football League to publicly identify as gay.

I wish we were at a point in the larger society of this nation where such an announcement was akin to a yawn. In places like the city I live, it is not really ‘news’. Liberal and highly educated Madison has embraced living authentically for many years. We are proud, for example, of our openly gay Congressman Mark Pocan, and our openly gay United States Senator Tammy Baldwin.

But the degree to which bigotry and attempts to marginalize gay men and women still occur, and some politicians turn policy ideas into culture war issues for the cheap sake of campaign fodder, proves why the news from Nassib is important to be heard in many places across the nation.

I grew up in a rural conservative town in Waushara County. I just knew it not wise to come out until I was on safer ground. That would occur when I secured a job in Madison and found the friends and environment where coming out was truly one of the easiest events in my life. The part, however, that was difficult for me was knowing that scores of others in places around the state were not able to have that same sense of self, based on the conservative constraints placed upon them.

One of the best ways to reach those conservative areas is to wrap any message in football terms.

Many in the state who follow Green Bay Packers football, and that would constitute a sizable portion, and who perhaps are aware of the gay players who, over time, were part of the teams, know anti-gay behavior was not tolerated by Vince Lombardi.

Multiple players who played for Vince Lombardi, the legendary former Packers and Redskins coach, say that he knew some of his players were gay, and that not only did he not have a problem with it, but he went out of his way to make sure no one else on his team would make it a problem.

Such lessons are important and have value to impart to those who need assurance that being gay is totally fine, and that acting in bigoted ways against gay people is not.

The news from Nassib, therefore, is not an announcement that gay men play the rough and tumble game of football. No, we are well aware that gay people make up all professions. Rather, Nassib stated clearly who he is as a person, not wishing to hide or deflect or lie anymore. He chose to live authentically.

I am proud of him.

I also know how he feels tonight. A little freer. A little less tight in the chest. Deeper breaths never felt better.

I trust that the news does have an impact on others in the state and that it helps carry the ball of progress with gay rights ‘down the field’.

I know we will reach a time in the nation when someone will say they are gay and we will collectively say, ‘that is great’. And yawn.

And so it goes.

Humphrey’s History Video: Green Bay Packers And Ted Kennedy

During Wisconsin’s Stay At Home order, so to combat COVID-19, I am recording a series of 60-second grand stories from history.  Today I tell a story of the Green Bay Packers and Ted Kennedy which will bring a smile.

And I nail this video in precisely 60 seconds!  That makes former radio guys smile…..


Wisconsin Voters Need To Be More Like Packer Fans


The signers of the Declaration of Independence knew their signatures might very well land them at the end of a rope for treasonous actions.  In 1864, when our nation warred with itself, a presidential election was held.  In 1918, when another pandemic plagued the globe and killed over 600,00 people in our nation, mid-term elections were successfully held.  In the most vexing of circumstances, the wheel of politics and democracy in this land rolled onwards.  That very spirit, from the birth of this nation through the pandemic we now face, must continue with Wisconsinites making sure the Spring Election takes place, and in numbers that make far more than a political point. 

A couple weeks ago I marveled at the spirit of those living in portions of Tennesse, where tornadoes had leveled swaths of communities.  The morning ‘hell-from-on-high’ storms lashed down but did not close polls for that day’s primaries.  As I watched the returns that evening on the cable channels it was uplifting to see the resolve of the citizens who still participated in the most fundamental responsibility we have as citizens.  Voting.

The coverage reminded me how more uneasy the folks in Tennessee might have felt had the storms undid the local elections.  When governments postpone, for example, elections, it allows for more of a panic mode to hover about.  In these times it is most important to have some norms, especially ones that strike to the foundations of our democracy, continue.  It is important citizens know they have a stake in our future, and a say in our governing process, especially when things seem most dire.

There is no denying the potent nature of COVID-19 or understanding the absolute necessity for social distancing.  Heeding advice from our government, and following the directives from health experts is a necessity.  But at the same time, the need for collective action to demonstrate that the underpinnings of our state (and country) remain strong must continue.  Our Spring Election must be one of those avenues when we send a concerted message about unity and purpose, and it can be done safely.

It is obvious that almost every facet of our lives has been upended due to the virus.  From workplaces to music venues, restaurants to gyms, our world has shrunk to the homes we live in and lawns outside our picture windows.  Hunkering down is the best way we fight back against the virus.  But we must not allow for the virus to attack the very underpinning of our governing process, and the most essential of that framework is our elections.

Absentee balloting is the most appropriate way to cast a ballot in the upcoming elections. We all can be enormously heartened that so many of our fellow citizens have exercised their right in this manner.  In so doing they are using caution but also limiting the hardships which will be on the shoulders of the poll workers the day of the election.  To assist in making same-day voting easier there will be curbside balloting.  Special precautions for those who choose, for whatever reason, to cast a ballot in-person April 7th will be provided.  As it should be.

We all can have our views regarding the efficacy of mail-in ballots for the whole state and how best to ensure safe elections.  We all can line up with either Governor Tony Evers or the leadership of the state legislature.  We can have strong opinions, and should!  For the record, I come from an old-school way of thinking about elections.  To the extent that our state now–and our nation as this year proceeds–can conduct our elections in the manner that is most familiar to my fellow citizens—as well as for the poll workers (which I was one)–it should do so.

But at the end of this debate, it is absolutely essential that the election process not be upended by the virus.  We simply can not allow one of the causalities of this pandemic to be the glue of our democracy.  Our elections.  And the right to cast a ballot.

Wisconsinites are a hearty band of folks.  Consider that no snowstorm or cold front is too much for Green Bay Packer fans at Lambeau Field.  Packer fans do not go in light clothes but instead bundle up in layers galore.  That same spirit of overcoming the odds is precisely what we must employ now as we cast our ballots in the Spring Election. We can create a statewide touchdown by having a huge voter turnout that the whole nation will notice!

Given the crisis at hand, I frankly do not care which person or issue wins at the polls.  I sincerely want to see a huge turnout through absentee ballots that prove, to one and all, that when it comes to the core values in our state we all agree civic duty is very much alive!

And conquered the damn virus!

Richard Nixon And Vince Lombardi

Rarely do sports enter into the blog posts at Caffeinated Politics.  The one thing I recall from living only about an hour from Lambeau Field in the 1980’s was the running joke at the radio station about one of the players at that time with all sorts of personal problems off the field and a lack of catching ability on the field.  “If only the football had a g-string he could catch the ball!”

That is the only thing I recall about the Green Bay Packers from my time at WDOR.  But when I ran across the following photo of Richard Nixon and then again read about his political interest in Vince Lombardi, I just had to do a sports post.


As vice president, Nixon made no secret of his delight in rubbing shoulders with renowned football coaches like Woody Hayes of Ohio State, whose support he credited for helping him carry Ohio in the 1960 election against John F. Kennedy. During his wilderness years as a New York lawyer, Nixon analyzed football plays with Y. A. Tittle and Andy Robustelli over cocktails at the apartment of their Giants teammate Frank Gifford.

When Nixon ran for president a second time, in 1968, he quietly pondered recruiting the Green Bay Packers’ Vince Lombardi for his ticket — until his campaign manager (and later attorney general) John Mitchell discovered that Lombardi was a Democrat.

As the leader of a country riven by the Vietnam War, Nixon employed his passion for pro football — he enjoyed an impressive and detailed knowledge of the game (he had the same command of baseball) — to pit his political followers, whom he branded the Silent Majority, against the antiwar left. When a Moratorium March against the war was announced for Washington in November 1969, the president announced that he would not “be affected whatever by it.” Instead, the White House said, he would be home watching televised football, enjoying the patriotic pageants staged during halftime.