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August 7, 2008

Is Peter King Brett Favre's New Agent?

The Brett Favre-Packers saga appears to have been ended by a trade of the unretired quarterback to the New York Jets. Though ESPN's Rachel Nichols can probably stop stalking Favre now, another, higher-profile, reporter is likely to continue to cover the story, which has now moved to within a couple dozen miles from his home: Sports Illustrated's Peter King, who looks to have acted as something of a go-between for Favre and his former team.

Image Description

A QB for the SMS age.

At first, we thought this, from a recent King column, was puzzling and journalistically dubious:

Ten nights ago, I sat in Brett Favre's Mississippi home, and a couple of times during our discussions he said he wanted Packers general manager Ted Thompson to release him. Folly, I thought, and I told him so. "Brett," I said, "the Packers will release you over Ted Thompson's dead body. They're not going to give you the chance to run through the tunnel opening night as a Viking." Favre was not moved. He heard me, but I don't think he believed me.

The next day, I was in Green Bay, sniffing around the Packers. At one point, I text-messaged Favre, telling him what I thought -- the team would rather pay him his 2008 salary and not have him play rather than cut him loose.

This text message came back from Favre's phone: "tell ted to release me."

Did the New York Times's Adam Nagourney play a role in negotiations between the Obama and Clinton campaigns over the fate of Michigan and Florida's delegates? If he did—and he probably didn't; presidential campaigns have more surrogates than Brett Favre and the Packers—we didn't hear about it. Was Peter Gammons in the middle of Manny Ramirez trade talks between the Red Sox and the Dodgers? We don't think so.

Then again, maybe Gammons was, and just didn't 'fess up to it. We can't say for sure. Sports journalism is inherently more casual than political journalism, for the simple reason that teams and athletes do not have armies of flacks. They may have, say, a cadre, but when was the last time a WaPo reporter followed Barack Obama back to his car? When he was in the Illinois Senate? A good sportswriter can get close to a source which means, yes, sometimes he can get too close. So maybe King did cross the line a bit with Favre, but at least he's admitting it, text messages and all.

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