One of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, the league’s all-time leading passer, wants to play football, and his former team doesn’t want him back. If sports columnists, bloggers, and online pollsters are to be believed, almost no one—save his wife and kids—wants him to play again.
According to the latest reports, Favre sent a text message to Green Bay GM Ted Thompson on Saturday, and Thompson replied that he was on vacation, and would address the situation when he returned.
Something tells me that, if Thompson had his druthers, he wouldn’t “return” from vacation until halftime of the Packers’ opening game, just in time to retire Favre’s jersey and bring the saga to a close.
Clearly, Favre ain’t goin’ out like that. He wants to play, and it’s beginning to look like he’s going to force the issue. The Pack reportedly sent an emissary to his Mississippi home to try to talk some sense into him, only to be rebuffed.
If Favre insists on scratching his itch at all cost, it places the Pack in an uncomfortable situation. They basically have three options: bring him back, trade him, or give him his outright release.
Let’s take a brief look at each.
Bring Favre Back
This option is the least likely to happen. The Packers have closed the door on the Brett Favre era. They have handed the reins to the heir apparent, Aaron Rodgers, and they need to put him on the field so they can see what they have. They drafted not one, but two quarterbacks in this year’s draft. The message is clear: thanks for the memories, Brett. Best of luck.
If the Packers choose this option, they will essentially be cutting their own throats. Favre is 38. At most, he’s got two good years left. Aaron Rodgers’ contract is up in 2009. If the Packers take the ball away from him and give it back to Favre, what are the chances that Rodgers will want to re-sign with them?
This is a more likely scenario than Option One, though not by much. Off the top of my head, I can think of anywhere between five and 10 teams that would be very interested in Favre, but he would almost certainly veto any trade to a non-contender, and several QB-needy contenders toil in the NFC.
Two of those teams, the Bears and the Vikings, are divisional rivals. Only a great fool would trade Favre to either of those teams, and Thompson is not a great fool.
Can you imagine Favre jogging onto Lambeau Field in a Bears uniform, slicing up the Packer defense to a chorus of boos? Can you imagine being the guy who engineered the trade of a player viewed by many fans as God in a yellow helmet?
Neither can Ted Thompson. Option Two is a non-starter.
This, too, is an uncomfortable choice, but possibly the least so. Favre could still end up with a divisional rival, and the Bears and Vikings are a quarterback away from making serious noise in the NFC.
Minnesota, in particular, with stellar running back Adrian Peterson, would be a legitimate Super Bowl contender with Favre at the helm.
Not an attractive scenario, but at least Thompson wouldn’t be blamed for actively trading Favre. Surprisingly, the Packer faithful appear to be split on the issue.
Some believe Favre represents the best chance to win now, and that he should be allowed to play until he is no longer able. This contention has some merit; the Packers very nearly got to the Super Bowl last year as Favre enjoyed one of his best statistical seasons. (Of course, an ill-advised Favre interception was chiefly responsible for the Packers’ NFC Championship loss to the Giants, but with Brett, bad throws are part of the package.)
The other camp is of the opinion that it’s time to move on, that Rodgers is the guy now, and that Favre is putting his own ego above the long-term health of the team. There is merit to that opinion as well, but as a former athlete, I don’t come down on that side.
Here’s my two cents on the situation.
Yes, Favre is putting the Packers in a lose-lose situation. It is a bit selfish. But try, for a moment, to look at it from Favre’s point of view. If you count high school and college, he has been playing quarterback for 25 years. Jackie Robinson was right when he said that athletes die twice. Retirement from football is a death of sorts, and when he gives it up for good, then Brett Favre the quarterback dies, to be replaced by Brett Favre the … what?
Favre himself doesn’t know what his next incarnation will be. Can we blame him for not wanting to find out yet?
Also, remember that just two years ago, when Favre was mulling retirement, it was Thompson who begged him to reconsider. If Thompson remembers this, he’ll do the right thing and free Favre up to play somewhere else.
Don’t blame Brett Favre for putting his legacy at risk by trying to play again. You can only mow the lawn so many times before it gets old.