A Plea for No More No. 4

theondeckcircle dotnetSenior Analyst IJuly 7, 2008

When debating the greatest quarterbacks of all time, Brett Favre’s name would appear near the top of every list. The Atlanta Falcons’ second-round pick in 1991, Favre was the third quarterback selected after two beauties: Dan McGwire and Todd Marinovich.

After being traded to the Green Bay Packers in 1992, Favre embarked on 16-year NFL career in which he endured an addiction to painkillers, personal troubles, and some awful teams, to produce a stat sheet that is second to none:

253 Consecutive Games Started

160 Regular Season Wins (NFL Record)

442 Touchdowns (NFL Record) 

61, 655 Passing Yards (NFL Record) 

85.7 QB Rating 

9 Pro Bowl Selections 

7 All-Pro Selections 

3 AP NFL MVP Trophies (NFL Record) 

2007 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year 

1 Super Bowl Championship

Despite his impressive career, both Favre and the Packers endured several tumultuous seasons preceding last season’s emergence as the NFL’s most surprising team.

After each crushing hit or missed playoff season, Favre’s career would come under immense speculation as the quarterback “Sundin-ed” the Packers by taking his sweet time deciding his future.

After challenging Tom Brady as the sentimental favourite to win the MVP Award last season, Favre finally decided to call it a career and he seemed content taking his storied career and the cover of Madden 09 back to Mississippi with him.

At least we were led to believe he was content, until reports surfaced this week that No. 4 might be coming back for one more season.

Despite being an embarrassing loss for my beloved Raiders, the second-greatest football game I have ever watched was played on December 22, 2003 when Favre passed for four touchdowns (in the first half) and threw for 399 total yards as the Packers beat the Raiders 41-7, only one day after his father died of a heart attack.

Even when beating the Raiders, Brett Favre has always been one of my favorite players. Playing in probably the harshest climate (sorry Bills fans) in the NFL, Favre often looked like he was on a playground somewhere as he improvised his way into the NFL record books.

I will not deny his natural talents, but Farve was at his best when he was making throws that no other QB would even attempt, despite an NFL record 288 interceptions, because he made them work more often than not.

Even the most hardcore Vikings’ and Bears’ fans had to respect Farve, as he continually picked himself off the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, muddy and injured, but grinning because he knew, and so did everyone else, that he was going to make something special happen on the next play. For the reasons mentioned above, and many more, it pains me to write the following: Brett Farve should not come back next year.

If Brett Favre had announced that he was returning to lead the Packers (who have a legitimate shot at challenging for the NFC title this year) for one more year shortly after Green Bay was eliminated from the playoffs, I would have been enthralled because he is still a top-tier QB.

By retiring however, Favre shifted the entire focus of the franchise, as the team, coaches, and fans began the transition into the Aaron Rodgers era while attempting to maintain team chemistry.

As quickly as the rumors of Favre’s return began, however, team chemistry emerged as a problem. Rodgers was criticized for telling fans to get on board or shut up, and veteran DB Al Harris was quoted as saying he would welcome Brett back with open arms, despite the Packers being Rodgers’ team now.

If Favre truly wanted to do what was best for the franchise that fostered his greatness, he must reveal his intentions as soon as possible. Interviews with his brother (Scott) and his mother are simply creating unneeded controversy for the Packers’ organization.

If the rumors of a return are untrue, Favre needs to say this as quickly as possible, and offer his endorsement of Rodgers so the Lambeau faithful finally accept him. Each day he remains silent suggests he will return, but the uncertainty surrounding the decision will only hurt the Packers.

As evidenced by his play in replacing an injured Favre against the Cowboys last season (218 yards, 1 TD in three quarters), Rodgers can play in the NFL. Surrounded by youth and talent, I think Green Bay has created the perfect environment to introduce a new quarterback without taking a step-backwards.

With all the attention being given over the past week to Favre’s return, it is hard to believe Rodgers will enter this season full of confidence. If Favre does return, the organization should trade the young quarterback and give him a chance to start elsewhere.

Although it would hurt the Packers in the long run, I think it is the least the organization can do since Rodgers (up until his unnecessary comments about Green Bay fans this week) has remained patient as the backup QB. Rodgers has learned a lot from Favre, but eventually, the Packers need to be his team.

More upsetting than rumors of Favre’s return to the Packers, however, are reports that his agent Bus Cook has asked for his release so Favre could begin negotiating with other NFL teams.

According to Favre’s mother, Favre had contacted Green Bay about a potential return, but he “felt a vibe the team was ready to move on.”

As the face of the Packers’ franchise for over a decade, the Packers have extended Favre patience and courtesy as they have awaited his career decisions, time and time again.

If there were any “vibe” that the Packers had moved on without Favre, it was because he told the team that his playing career was over, so the team made changes to its offense this offseason that would benefit the players they were expecting to play!

If the Packers hurt Favre’s feelings, I feel for them, but Brett needs to be realistic in his expectations of the franchise. The time that Green Bay can wait (most of the offseason) for a decision has passed, if the team is serious about taking the next step,. Favre has to know this after all his time in the league.

If another team is willing to give him a chance, I don’t blame them at all (nor do I blame Brett for taking it). But I encourage Favre to think long and hard before playing in another uniform come September. Favre has come to represent everything the Green and Gold stand for, and seeing him in another jersey would have many football fans taking a Lambeau Leap off the Brett Favre Fan Wagon.

Rumors of Favre’s return have the potential to hurt both the Packers’ organization and the quarterback’s legacy, and I see little benefit for Favre in coming out of retirement. Looking through his accolades, Favre has little left to accomplish, and despite missing out on an opportunity to win a Super Bowl last season, his career will end on a high note because of the Packers’ unexpected success.

Many NFL fans will criticize me for saying this, but stay retired Brett, come back to Lambeau Field to see them raise your name and number, and enjoy retirement. Football fans will miss you Brett, but we will be okay, and so will the NFL.

Straight from The On Deck Circle.net by Patrick Tye.


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