Brett Favre vs. Green Bay Packers: Throwing TDs or Throwing Games?
It's a near certainty that Brett Favre will be playing football in 2009 for the Minnesota Vikings. In fact, there are already rumors circulating that the Vikings have put in an order for No. 4 Favre jerseys with the NFL's equipment supplier.
What remains is the question of why Brett Favre seems so hellbent on playing for the Vikings.
The source of this likely scenario taking place on the gridiron is the bitter relationship between Favre and his former GM, the Green Bay Packers' Ted Thompson.
Publicly, both Favre and Thompson will say the right thing and deny any animosity against the other. But privately, this is simply not the case.
Favre believes that Thompson forced him out of Green Bay. Whether that is the truth or simply Favre's version of the truth will likely never be known despite reams of articles written on the subject. But Favre has held on to his opinion like a feral dog to a fresh kill.
If Favre truly despises Thompson and is willing to burn every bridge built in Green Bay to seek his revenge on the man, then the following scenario I will lay out is extremely plausible.
While still in Green Bay, Favre wished Ted Thompson would build a winning team around him—not through the draft, as appeared to be Thompson's strategy, but through free agency. That is how Favre had seen the Packers build their Super Bowl-winning team, by picking up the likes of Reggie White, Desmond Howard, and Eugene Robinson.
But Thompson didn't seem willing to spend the Packers' money in such a fashion. The team failed to bring in any big-name talent through free agency. Favre practically begged Thompson to grab Randy Moss and give him a true receiving threat. Yet without even making an offer, Thompson let Moss land in New England.
So Favre played with the youngsters that he likely knew were not a Super Bowl caliber team, despite his constant claims of how talented the young Packers supposedly were.
Thus began Favre's constant talk of "retirement." Basically what Favre was doing was waiting to see if the Packers would make a move and sign a big name to bring in the offensive talent he wanted prior to committing to returning to the Packers' sideline.
It was a threat. An idle threat—and the Packers front office knew this.
Finally, the straw snapped. Favre was so angered by Thompson's refusal to listen to his requests that he wanted out—and he wanted to go to Minnesota.
Not simply because he had friends running the team and he already had a good knowledge of their offense, but because he could stick it to the Packers (mainly Thompson) twice a year.
Thompson was no fool. He realized this, and instead of kowtowing to Favre's somewhat childish demands, shipped his franchise and future Hall of Fame quarterback to the New York Jets—with several conditions attached.
Thompson and Packers knew that Favre wanted to play in Minnesota so bad that they put a rider in the deal that if the Jets turned around and traded Favre to the Vikings, the Jets would have to surrender their next three first round draft picks, a clear deterrent.
For the immediate moment, the Jets had to trade a single pick—one contingent on Favre's play and how far the Jets went in the postseason—for Favre's services. Not only did the Jets land a superstar quarterback, their first since Joe Namath, they boosted ticket sales and jersey sales immediately. This coincided with over $140 million in other talent the team brought into New York.
Despite this, Favre did not want to play in New York. As the season went on, this was obvious. He didn't participate in team functions, and by season's end, he was hated by most of his teammates, who sensed his dislike of being there.
Favre's play at the end of the season, when the playoffs seemed easily within the Jets' grasp after an 8-3 start, seemed to coincide with the animosity built up between the quarterback and the rest of his team. Without mincing words, in the last five weeks of the season when the Jets went 1-4, Favre sucked.
He threw just two touchdowns against nine interceptions. His quarterback rating averaged just a tick over 50 for those five games. The Jets missed the playoffs, and their head coach, Eric Mangini, was ultimately fired.
Talk was Favre was just washed up. Or maybe it was his throwing arm, which later would require offseason surgery, that was at fault. Either way, it looked as if his career was truly at an end.
So it came as no surprise when Favre talked of retirement again. Then he asked for his release from the Jets, and the Jets complied without a second thought. The team had made their money off Favre in '08 and now had a new franchise quarterback in Mark Sanchez to hype.
Yet this was exactly what Brett Favre wanted all along: his freedom—and the freedom to go to the Vikings, where he would have his chance to go head-to-head with Ted Thompson and the Packers.
Could Favre have designed this whole scenario while under center for the Jets? Could he have thrown games at the end of the season simply to get himself out from under the Jets' control?
Think about this. Favre had cut all ties to his former team by putting himself first. He seemed not to care about his fans' opinions because, again, he came first. He had no want to see the Packers succeed; they had dared to turn on him.
Despite all of this, his success on the Jets was still directly tied to the Packers' future success.
Had Favre led the Jets to the playoffs, Thompson and the Packers stood to gain a second round draft pick as part of the deal (a first round pick if he led them to the Super Bowl).
If Favre indeed accomplished that, that success would have made the Jets front office tighten their grip around Favre, rather than giving him his unconditional release as he wanted.
Yet if the Jets floundered and failed to reach the playoffs, Thompson would get just a third round pick, and the Jets wouldn't necessarily want the "old man" back.
Perhaps to Favre, this latter scenario was preferable. Thompson and the Packers would get next to nothing for trading Favre, and in turn, Favre would be a free man.
With five weeks left in the season, Favre, and consequently the Jets, suddenly tanked.
So maybe Favre's play at the season's end wasn't just the wearing out of a 40-year-old quarterback. Perhaps it was a fiendish plan of someone who was seeking revenge against a man and a franchise he felt had wronged him (and his super ego).
Now Favre has exactly what he wished for a season ago. He's free to join the Vikings, perhaps to the welcoming wishes of friends who know that there is plenty of gas left in Favre's tank despite what he seemed to show at the end of the '08 season.
As for the Jets, they ultimately profited from Favre's brief time there. Yet they were just a pawn in Favre's game.
The enemy was the Packers. For their grief, they get just a third round pick out of Favre—not the second rounder or the potential three first round picks possible if the Jets had dealt him.
What do you think of that, Ted Thompson?
If Favre indeed joins and succeeds with the Vikings, Thompson is made the fool Favre believes him to be. Revenge can be sweet, can't it?
As long as Favre and the Vikings can win.
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