A Football Fan's Take on the Brett Favre Saga

Alex MeredithContributor IMay 7, 2009

I want to cheer for Brett Favre. I want to be a fan. I mean, Jesus, I’ve never considered myself a Packers fan, but I feel like just a few years ago it really was fun to watch Brett jump around like a sixth-grader in gym class after throwing a signature bomb in double (or triple) coverage for six, and every time – whether it was or wasn’t – it felt like the big game-winner.

But I don’t feel that anymore, not at all. Now, it’s different.  It was fun to watch him jump up and down before, but now, it just seems a bit, well…contrived.  It feels like he’s jumping because he feels like he has to, not because he’s really that excited.

Similarly, his recent spat of retirement/un-retirement talk makes you wonder.  We’ve watched Brett jump, and we’ve watched Brett retire.  We’ve spent at leastthe last five or six years just talking about him retiring, or un-retiring, or re-retiring, or re-un-retiring, or some variation thereof, and for those who aren’t sick of it…well…I envy you. You must have an incredible gift for compassion or patience (possibly ignorance), or something, but you’re one lucky SOB.

Can we blame him though? Does he deserve all the criticism? While part of me (read: the large majority of me) feels he deserves every bit of it for making us deal with this again (and again…and again), in the end, I feel like it all depends.

I think everyone can agree, Brett Favre is an incredibly competitive individual, as are most NFL players.  If Brett Favre’s intense love and compassion for the game of football is driving his re-return to football, then I can’t say I blame him all that much. 

A friend of mine, after playing his last game of college football, compared ending your football career with breaking up with the most perfect girlfriend you could ever imagine times ten.

You’ve laughed with it, you’ve cried with it, you’ve loved it, you’ve made sweet, sweet love to it, and throughout the entire relationship, she never argued with you. You’ve built so many bonds, established such a Fraternity of brotherhood, put in so much time and effort, blood, sweat, and tears into it, and at the blow of a whistle, it’s done.  It’s all done.

And that was just after college.

So hearing that Brett Favre wants to return after playing a competitive sport for something like 35 years, I can understand…especially so considering the fact that Brett Favre was one of the most beloved sports icons in sports history for the large majority of his career.  So if he wants to play, then I understand, he should try and play.

But that’s where my compassion ends.  I need not remind you, but Brett Favre wants to play for the Minnesota Vikings. Imagine ten years ago if someone would have mentioned Brett Favre, the savior of Green Bay, playing for a division rival. Or any other team for that matter. Utter blasphemy, right? Favre himself would have spit at the idea in disgust.  So why the hell would he want to do it now?

The only other feasible reason for his second un-retirement, as often reported by any number of media outlets, is that he wants to stick it to Packers General Manager Ted Thompson and the rest of the Green Bay brass. 

Talk about tarnishing your legacy.

If Favre wants to come back because he loves the game of football, then by all means, he should absolutely pursue his dream of playing football until he hurls his arm off on a 50-yard bomb into the end zone—arm and all—at the ripe old age of 73. 

That would make for great television I’m sure. But if Favre truly is coming back to play only for spite, then we might as well just stop calling this a legacy, because suddenly, the man, the myth, the legend, that is/was Brett Favre becomes more of a villain than a hero in his own grandiose saga.

The vengeance theme is a dangerous one to play.  If Favre plays just to shove it down the cheese-hole of the Pack, how does he play after week 8 of the regular season when the Vikings and Packers finish their second game in Lambeau?  If he wins both games, does he feel vindicated? Does he have any drive left after that? If he loses both games, what’s his motivation then? And if he splits them…then what the hell does that mean?

And that’s assuming he’s healthy all season.  If he injures himself, as he did at the end of last season with the Jets, then that brings up a whole new mess entirely.  If a team (we’ll “presume” the Vikings) signs him, Favre is going to do everything he can to play every single snap of the season. 

As we’ve already established, Favre is one of the most incredibly competitive athletes in sports, and one potentially dramatic problem that’s largely gone unnoticed is his consecutive games streak, which stands at something like 271 consecutive regular season games started over his 18-year career.

Say the same scenario as last year unfolds and he’s injured for the last five games of the season, sitting at 6-5, and Favre re-injures his bicep.  Is Favre going to sit out?  The mere mention of an injury puts the team in jeopardy. 

Questions swirl, players lose Judging from what we’ve seen out of him in the last few years, he can’t miss a start. Accredit that to his superior competitiveness, I guess.  If he continues to start (or even if Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels replace him), and performs poorly, a media circus ensues, team morale begins to drop, playoff hopes diminish, and BAM. Welcome to the life New York Jets fans circa the 2008 season. 

Realistically, it’s going to be difficult for Brett Favre to succeed in any fashion if he returns to playing football, unless he pulls an Elway-esque finish and then finally retiring for good, but those are pretty rough odds. 

For the Vikings organization, there’s just too many questions, too many what-ifs, if he’s signed.  Too many risks of an implosion like what the Jets went through last year.

In the end, it’s going to be up to Favre.  It’d make for a great story if he came back and succeeded (for the right reasons of course), but if Favre touches a purple jersey, everything he’s worked so hard for his entire career, is ruined.  Favre is the villain

But if he truly is the player that those Green Bay fans hyped him up to be for all those years, he’ll make the right decision: the one that ignores spiting Ted Thompson and the Packers, the one that keeps in mind the love that so many Green Bay Packers fans have shown him over the many years—even after he sported another team’s jersey…once. He’ll make the right move.

The one that brings him home to Hattiesburg, Mississippi as the greatest quarterback in Packers franchise history.