Another season has drawn to a close for Brett Favre, and once again the biggest question for the Hall of Famer and his team is whether or not he’ll come back for another season. Favre says it’s unlikely he’ll return, but by this point a statement like that holds as much weight as a Mark McGwire statement about steroids.
So the question is, if Favre wanted so badly to play again these past two seasons, what has changed that he wouldn’t want to come back again?
Isn't his reason for playing the same it's been since he left the Packers?
In March of 2008, Favre announced his retirement from the NFL. He did say that he wanted to play again if he could lead his team to a title, but he didn’t feel that was a legitimate possibility in 2008.
Flash forward to July of that same year and Favre had changed his mind. The problem was, just like an ex-girlfriend, Green Bay had already moved on to its next leading man (Hello Aaron Rodgers).
Since Green Bay didn’t want him anymore, Favre took his football and went home, well kind of. The Packers wouldn’t simply release him since they didn’t want him to come back with a team in the division (spoiler alert!), so they eventually shipped him off to the Jets and figured that would be the last they’d hear from him.
Put yourself in Favre’s position at this point of his career.
You’ve spent 16 years in Green Bay as the toast of the very small town. Now, after announcing your retirement you want to come back but they won’t give you your old spot back!
Shouldn’t they be grateful for all you’ve done for them?
What would be the normal reaction to this?
Of course it’d be that he wants to get some payback on the Packers, and if he has to do it with the Jets then so be it.
Well Favre’s season didn’t go as well as he planned. After an 8-3 start, Favre and the Jets struggled to a 9-7 finish and missed the playoffs. After the season, it was revealed that Favre had been playing with a torn bicep which might explain the 22 interceptions that accompanied his 22 touchdowns.
Following the disappointing season Favre once again retired from the NFL, and not long after the Jets released him.
That brings us to June 2009.
Favre once again says he might want to play again. As a guy who reads girls about as well as Stevie Wonder reads Shakespeare, I was surprised when right away I knew what Favre was saying even though he wasn’t actually SAYING it. The old gunslinger was saying “I still want my payback, and if there’s even a remote chance I can play this year, I will.”
Not surprisingly, a couple months later Favre signed a two year $25 million deal with—guess who—the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings happen to play in the same division as the Packers and they would finally offer him a chance to get his revenge.
The 2009 season went exceptionally well for Favre. In fact, it was one of the best of his career.
With a career low seven interceptions and an appearance in the NFC championship game, Favre showed he still has gas in the tank. However after the game he said it’s highly unlikely that he’ll return for another season.
Now, it’s safe to assume that at this point Favre doesn’t actually know if he’s going to retire again or not. His default response is that he is going to retire, the same way that my default response to homeless people asking for change is to claim I don’t have any and then look at the ground.
If Favre is going to actually retire he must feel he has gotten his revenge on the Packers and has proven that he was still good enough to start for them. Obviously his numbers this year show he’s good enough to start for just about every team, so if that was his goal, then congratulations Brett.
But as for Green Bay in particular, the emergence of Aaron Rodgers as a Pro Bowl caliber QB has made it so that no matter what Favre does, even if he had won the Super Bowl this year, he still couldn’t convince everyone that he’s a better fit for the Packers right now than Rodgers is.
Ultimately, that might be the reason he actually retires for good this season.
He’s beaten the Packers this season; more than that he’s played exceedingly well both against them and the rest of the NFL. But because of Rodgers, there will never be that cry for Favre to return to Green Bay. He can’t make the Packers pay in the way that he wants, not because he’s not still a great QB, but because Rodgers has been exactly what the Packers and their fans have hoped he would be.
In the end, that doesn’t make Favre’s comeback a failure, but it does finally give Favre a reason to hang it up and still go out on top.