Monday, July 07, 2008

When did Favre become a problem?

I'm sure everyone heard the rumblings over the weekend concerning Brett Favre's possible un-retirement (or is it de-retirement, I'm not really sure) from the NFL. I know there were a lot of people out there who thought this was no shocker at all considering Favre just came off one of the best seasons of his long career, and he ended it on such a sour note.

But I guess I was of the minority in thinking Favre was not the type of guy to go into a national press conference, cry his brains out, and then renege on his word. For some reason, I thought I had seen the guy play his last down of football, and I'm still not completely convinced he's going to come back. But all the reports, no matter how much Favre wants to downplay them, indicate that he's at least thinking about playing in the NFL next season.

Without reading much about it over the weekend, I figured the Packers would be cool with having the man, the myth, the legend back in the friendly confines of Lambeau Field, but then I read this interesting take from SI's Peter King:

The one thing I don't believe Favre understands yet is the tumult which will greet his return to the Packers, or to another NFL team. There are Packer fans who have moved on, and wish he would do the same. He doesn't realize fully -- yet -- that Brett Favre returning to the Packers would bug a slew of Packerphiles who wish he'd make a decision and stick with it and ride off into the sunset with his glory intact. Because he insulates himself from much of the football world in Mississippi, I'm sure he doesn't realize the impact that playing for another team would have on his bleed-Packer-green fandom. Playing for any old NFL team would be crime enough to many of his faithful, but playing for a rival like Minnesota or Chicago would be like Johnny Damon spurning the Red Sox for the Yankees. Times five.

All of this scares the living tar out of (head coach) Mike McCarthy and (GM Ted) Thompson. They've happily proceeded through the off-season preparing the 24-year-old successor to Favre, Aaron Rodgers, to take his place, and they don't want their grand plan interrupted now. It's quite understandable. Rodgers has shown promise, and the Packers have him signed through the end of the 2009 season. Can you imagine what Rodgers would think if McCarthy came to him this week and said, "I know you've been working hard getting ready to start for us, and we've promised you the starting job, but we're going to bring Brett back for one year. Or two. Or three.'' If I were Rodgers, and I'd already waited through three years without starting a game, and Favre returned, I know what I'd tell McCarthy. That's fine, Mike. But I will never sign another contract with the Packers. After 2009, whatever happens, I'm gone.

My only problem with this thinking is the whole Aaron Rodgers business. I know he's been preparing this whole offseason as if he's the starter, but he's been doing that for three seasons. What's another season in the bullpen. He may be bitter as hell at Favre for stealing his spot, but Favre will probably be gone in another year or two ... and he's Brett Favre and you're Aaron Rodgers, so how can you even argue with what he wants to do?

Here's what I don't understand about all of this ... the Packers were one bad Favre throw from making it to the Super Bowl, and return many of the key players from that squad — except Favre. So basically, the Packers' brass is in a public relations conundrum, but seem to not understand that the mere mention of Favre propels them back to the top of the NFC.

You want to know what would be a PR disaster for the Packers? Favre not playing in a Packer uniform next season. Seriously, say he played for the Texans or the Vikings, that would just be awful. I'm talking Boston winning another sports title within the next 15 years awful.

I just don't get Green Bay's dilemma. Say you were the GM of an NFL team, if given the choice, who would you rather have quarterbacking your team : Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers. To me, no circumstance exists where Rodgers would be the answer.

Yes, it's unfair for Favre to just un (or de-) retire like this, but he's still one of the best quarterbacks in the league. How is this a bad thing? If the Packers win the Super Bowl or even come close to it again, I think they'll be plenty happy with whatever PR nuisances they're going to have to deal with. Yes, there might be some intense media scrutiny in the offseason, but once the games begin, isn't it just like another Favre season?

Basically, if he keeps on winning, this whole un-retire, de-retire business will look silly in hindsight.

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