The Pyramids of Giza were massive symbols of power, constructed by tens of thousands of laborers over decades to memorialize the pharoahs and high officials of Ancient Egypt. They are still around today, due to their massive size and stunningly sturdy construction. Truly, the culture behind them put a lot of weight into being remembered. Every so often, I wish that a professional athlete would take after the rulers of the Old and Middle Kingdoms. That is, I’d love if a few of them gave a damn about their legacy.
The trials of Brett Favre and Manny Ramirez bang on, and every passing day reminds me how blessed I am to care about reputation when so many in the world clearly do not. ESPN is keeping Favre as front page news more or less non-stop, and today’s article by Chris Mortensen, though cultivated from a direct interview, makes the ol’ gunslinger sound like a whining teenager. Up in Boston, bellowing pundit Dan Shaughnessy puts up a headline that we were all thinking: “Slugger’s act has grown very tiresome.” Despite the fact that the boy from Kiln and the dreadlocked masher are both sharing the front page as malcontents, the path to this point for both of them has been so different.
Manny’s made a career out of bouncing between being an eccentric goofball on his good days and a team-sabotaging distraction machine on his worst. If he had a monument in Giza, it would be covered in hieroglyphs of him holding forged “home sick” notes, talking on cell phones in the middle of a game, or waving a sign that says TRADE ME. Conversely, Favre has spent the last decade and a half as a hard-throwing everyman; an imperfect and lovable soldier who played tough, played well and gave back to the community. His legacy as one of the game’s best was secured even before he threw his 421st touchdown or had a monster statistical season to (theoretically) end his career. His shrine would’ve been enscribed with Lambeau Leaps and cheering crowds, though now who can be sure. Over the past weeks, Ramirez has soldified his legacy and Favre threw his into doubt.
How both of these stories will end is anyone’s guess. Manny may stay in Boston until the winter and then sneak off to Shea. Favre may play just down the road in the Meadowlands. But regardless of what happens on the field, there will be thought about what happens off of it. Neither man will be kept out of their respective Halls of Fame for a career of buffoonery or just a few weeks worth, but the stories have been written and read, and people will remember this for a long, long time. Maybe not as long as the Pyramids have been standing. But longer than either would care to realize.