August 24, 2009 11:42:00 AM
Bert Montgomery -
I''d like to address two rumors I''ve heard this week: first, that quarterback Brett Favre is retired; and second, that the upcoming 3rd Annual Pardon Johnny Cash Flower-Pickin'' Festival in Starkville is dead.
As to the first one, I paraphrase Mark Twain: Rumors of Brett Favre''s retirement have been greatly exaggerated.
I like Brett Favre. He''s a good Mississippi boy; a tough Mississippi boy. A lot of people are mad at Brett, but I''m not. The Packers let it be known they were through with their legendary quarterback. Mr. Favre knew in his heart (and bones and legs and arms and...) that he still had a little game left in him. In fact, in some ways Mr. Favre reminds me of another favorite tough Mississippi boy, Archie Manning (NOTE: I said, "in SOME ways" which is very different that "in ALL ways" or "he''s EXACTLY like").
I was just a toddler when Archie was rambling around Ole Miss; but from the time I was about 3 or 4, I do clearly remember Archie Manning as the face of my hometown team, the New Orleans Saints. When I was reaching my teenage years the Saints decided Archie had nothing left to offer them (actually new coach Bum Phillips let Archie go so he could bring in Kenny Stabler -- a slightly older player than Archie who was also moving to his third team), and I watched sadly as Archie played one year for the Houston Oilers, before moving up to play one more year for the Minnesota Vikings. Neither was a good year for Archie or either of those teams. But the tough ol'' Mississippi boy still had some game in him, that''s for sure.
I do remember Brett Favre -- a little different personality from Mr. Manning, yes -- leading his Southern Miss Golden Eagles to some huge upsets; and then I quickly became a Green Bay Packers fan. Another tough-Mississippi-boy makes good story. And, unlike the Saints with Archie, the Packers were able to put people around Brett that enabled him to work his magic.
Then many years passed, and the Packers decided their legendary quarterback had nothing left to offer them. Like Archie going to the Oilers, Favre led the New York Jets for one year, and is now joining Archie in the ranks of tough ol'' Mississippi quarterbacks having to play for Minnesota.
OK. Yes. I, too, grew weary of the "is he or isn''t he?" retired scenario over the past several months. But I, for one, still think Brett''s got a good bit of game left in him.
Of course, nobody thinks of the Oilers or the Vikings when they think of Archie. It''s Ole Miss and the New Orleans Saints. And in 10 or 15 years nobody is really going to think of the Jets or the Vikings when they think of Favre (well, unless the Vikings get into the playoffs...); they''ll think of Southern Miss and the Green Bay Packers.
But until then, for this next football season at least, Favre is not retired; he is a Viking. And I''m rooting for the boy from Mississippi.
Now for the second rumor. A friend looked at me earlier this week and said, "The Pardon Johnny Cash Flower-Pickin'' Festival is not happening this year. It''s officially dead."
I was the "chaplain" at last year''s festival, and I consider the founder, Robbie Ward, a friend. So I sent Robbie a message. "Robbie," I said, "I heard this week that it is 100-percent-for-sure the Festival is not going to happen; it''s dead."
Robbie''s immediate response was, "remember what they said about Mark Twain''s death ... His response seems appropriate here, too."
I like Robbie. His a good Mississippi boy; a tough Mississippi boy, though not tough in the same manner as Archie Manning or Brett Favre, but he is tough. And he''s from the Delta, which makes him as good as kinfolk to me. As I hear tell, he and the festival have been "counted out" each of the previous two years, and each of the previous two years the festival has occurred, continuing to draw interest and devotion from Cash fans around the world.
Since I happen to love everything about the Flower-Pickin'' Festival, I''m ecstatic to hear the rumors of its death have been greatly exaggerated.
So, pay no attention to those rumors. During the weekend of October 16-18, you''ll be able to find me right here in Starkville, enjoying the Flower-Pickin'' Festival and all-things-Johnny-Cash. The rest of the fall you can find me in front of my television, cheering for Brett Favre, and hoping his year with the Vikings turns out better than Archie''s.
Now then, what about that rumor I heard that Willie Nelson is coming to Mississippi State?
Bert Montgomery is an author, MSU religion/sociology instructor, and pastor and lives in Starkville. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.