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Sunday, July 13, 2008


I'm of two distinct minds on Brett Favre's change of heart and the Packers' reaction, so I'll try to handle this from both points of view. Thankfully, I have someone else's words to offer on one side so that I don't sound so schizophrenic.

Stephen A., take it away:



That's one way to look at it.

Another is borne of the almost-cliched advice that I heard Dan Marino say all the time on Inside the NFL, perhaps alluding to his own regrets. Paraphrasing, he said that a player should play as long as they possibly can. Period. You can't get your youth back, and you don't want to be sitting at home on the Sunday that the season starts, watching the NFL on television, "knowing" you still got it - or worse, that you still had it at one point and left too early. Only a few players seem to have done this in the NFL without looking back - Jim Brown would be the most famous case. The greatest player that ever lived looks like he can play today at 72 in part due to his decision to leave the game after his 1965 MVP season. (I'll go into why he left some other time. For now, let's get back to Favre.)

The Green Bay "gunslinger" (ack) had to have that season-ending interception against the Giants sticking in his craw down there in Mississippi. So he decided to come back, and that's cool. I wouldn't want to go out like that, either. But at the same time, no one forced Favre to sit down, get all misty and retire. No one!

But let's be real for a second: Favre isn't coming back for anyone but himself.

If he gave a crap about the Packers, he'd have figured this out before Green Bay retooled their offense for Aaron Rodgers and drafted another quarterback, Brian Brohm. If he gave a crap about the NFL or Green Bay fans, he wouldn't keep them all on puppet strings with his constant innuendos about a comeback. And as for Rodgers...well, it's evident that he doesn't care much about the guy who sat behind him for three seasons, or else he wouldn't have started this. Don't get it twisted - Favre isn't requesting his release because he thinks Rodgers has earned his turn. He isn't requesting it because he believes he has a better chance of winning elsewhere. Favre screwed up by dumping the Packers, and though he now wants back in, the team has moved on to someone else. (Sound familiar?) His only chance of starting is with another squad. And the Packers have every right to choose what team that will be, if any. Favre has no leverage.

ProFootballTalk.com speculates that there might be another noteworthy reason why Thompson's putting his foot down - his own job security:
Favre’s attempt to return complicates matters, significantly. If the Packers tank in 2008, Thompson will be criticized for not allowing Favre to return as the starter. But Thompson also knows that, if he allows Favre to play for anyone else in 2008, and if Favre excels while Aaron Rodgers and/or Brian Brohm and/or Matt Flynn struggle, the decision not to re-embrace Favre could be enough to get Thompson fired.

And so the notion that the Packers would pay Favre a $12 million base salary to sit the bench behind Rodgers is all about Thompson trying to squeeze Favre to stay in Mississippi. Because Thompson knows that, if Favre pushes the issue and shows up for camp and is willing to hold a clipboard for $705,000 per week, Thompson will have to either delay the first post-Favre season to 2009 — or Thompson will have to let Favre go.

Sounds reasonable to me, considering the impossible position Favre's put the Packers in. But the way the media portrays it, Thompson and the Packers will inevitably look like the villain, regardless of what they do. I can hear it in the coverage we're getting today - why, oh why won't that mean ol' Pack welcome the Golden Gunslinger God back to Green Bay? I mean, this Rodgers, nice kid and all...but we want to squeeze one more season of glory out of Favre? That these reporters somehow seem to regard Favre as a throwback to a more innocent age of the NFL stupefies me. And the fans? Please. Green Bay still can't let go. But I expect more from the media than a bunch of people who root for the team.

Enough of the lovefest; what Favre will only end up as is a backup to Rodgers, prompting a QB controversy that will tear Green Bay's season apart...or a starter for a random season or two with some team whose uniform he has no business wearing. That's the reality. Is that really better than a season-ending interception?

He has every right to continue his career, but let's be honest about why he's doing it.

  • UPDATE.

  • Within moments of my publishing this post, I learned that Favre may not be relegated to the bench after all:
    we’re told by a source with knowledge of the team’s thinking (but who prefers to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issue) that Favre would have a fair opportunity to unseat Rodgers, and that Favre’s relegation to backup is a reflection not of the team’s desire that he remain unretired, but of the reality that Rodgers and not Favre took the reps with the starting offense for all of the offseason program.

    A significant amount of the coming season’s offense and defense are installed during those T-shirts and shorts sessions. As reported elsewhere (we’re too lazy to look it up right now), the Packers spent the 2008 offseason making tweaks to the offense aimed at tailoring it to Rodgers.

    Thus, the team’s position is that Favre would need to prove that he provides a better option than Rodgers come Week One. If Favre does it, then he’ll be the starter.

    If I'm Aaron Rodgers, I'm requesting a trade. Quietly, but yes. No one should have his career determined by someone else's need for drama.

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