Tuesday, February 1, 2011

When you follow a legend, try not to tailgate.

What is it like to follow a legend?

What’s it like to know that you’re filling a void left by someone whose legacy is immortal?

We’ll find out this weekend, as Aaron Rodgers, upstart quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, attempts to water ski in the wake left by Brett Favre, former patron saint of Cheeselandia.

Please notice I used the word, “former.” By now, most of us are fully aware of how Mr. Favre has tainted his legacy since leaving the Bay of Green. Oops, I probably shouldn’t use words which contain “taint” and “leg,” since Favre chose to photograph those parts of his body and text them to a female employee of the New York Jets.

I haven’t seen the pictures, so I don’t know if any fun props were used, like little helmets or anything, but those Packer fans who had previously appreciated Brett’s down-home folksy family guy persona were bitterly disappointed. Oh, yeah, and he also joined Green Bay’s bitter rival, the Minnesota Vikings.

Steeerike two.

But there’s one thing Mr. Favre has accomplished, which is sufficient for a few die hard fans to stick with him like the virus he picked up at the Detroit Airport Hilton back in ’96.

He’s won a Super Bowl.

Our history is crammed with folks who’ve attempted to maintain success after a legend has preceded them and wandered into the sunset. Some have pulled it off. For example:

Mike Brady married Carol, each coming off the traumatic demise of his or her spouse. They seemed to hit the ground running, without so much as a botched suicide attempt from Jan or huffing incident involving Peter. The kids called them “Mom and Dad” immediately, the walls weren’t adorned with pictures of their dead departed and they never called each other Phil or Madge by mistake. Nice work, you two.

Brian Williams inherited the reins from Tom Brokaw, and has performed admirably. In fact, the network no longer needs to cut to a commercial while waiting for Mr. Brokaw to finish saying “Jalalabad.”

Barack Obama didn’t exactly follow a legend, but the man he succeeded was considered President by many. And even though a stuffed crust pizza could’ve communicated more effectively, Bush’s entire Cabal of Crazy achieved legendary abuses of power.

Of course, some weren’t quite up to the task of filling the loafers of greatness:

Anyone who sang lead vocals for Van Halen, Queen or The Doors should be ashamed of themselves. Okay, I’d do it if they asked me, but come on, guys, Freddie Mercury is Queen. Jim Morrison is The Doors. David Lee Roth and a toupee is Van Halen.

Does anyone remember Charlie’s Angels without Farrah Fawcett? I know she only put in one year before having a contract dispute and being replaced by Shelly Hack, but Farrah will always be Numero Uno Angel. Rest in peace, Farrah.

Back in college, I religiously watched “The Tonight Show, starring Johnny Carson.” Johnny was older, but he was hip and he was hilarious. He launched comedians who altered the landscape of American humor, and after Jay Leno took over, I decided to check back in when grandpa jokes became funny.

There are others who came up short, like the new Coke, Val Kilmer as Batman, the second Darren Stevens and whatever that stuff is that replaced trans-fat. Holy sweet mother, I miss trans-fat.

So good luck, Aaron Rodgers. May you lead the green and gold to victory.

And afterwards, no texting.

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