You ungrateful little punks.
That’s what crosses my mind whenever I hear the Packers complaining about the possible return of Brett Favre. A man that brought them a Super Bowl. A man who won three MVP awards. A man who led them to the NFC Championship game just last season.
When Favre announced his retirement this past March, I was thrilled. Being a Chicago Bears fan, I wanted the Brett Favre era to end like it was a trip to the proctologist.
No other athlete of the past 20 years has caused me as much incessant, prolonged pain as Brett Favre. It was more than just the wins and losses. It was things like the endless list of Bears starting quarterbacks we were subjected to every time Jonathan Quinn came in to the game or Craig Krenzel threw an interception that really stung.
See, Bears fans aren’t accustomed to the same recent successes that Packer fans are. Knowing what Favre was consistently doing for our hated rivals amplified the nausea of watching our anemic offense struggle to move the ball more than 3 yards at a time.
All those years of offensive invalidity changed my conception of football. I realized this in 2005. I had spent years watching a offenses led by Shane Matthews (or Rick Mirer, or Steve Walsh, or Henry Burris…) creep the ball up the field, never advancing more than five or six yards at a time it seemed. It was like getting your arm nibbled off by hamsters - slow and excruciating.
Then Rex Grossman came into a December game and he started flinging 15-, 20-yard slant routes like it was nothing. It felt like the Bears were the '99 Rams. Little did I know that NFL teams had been throwing the ball like this for about 40 years. And this is Rex Grossman we're talking about! Not a future Hall-of-Famer, or even a former Pro-Bowler. Just an average quarterback making ordinary plays.
Now Favre wants to return to football, and a good portion of Packer fans and seemingly the entire Green Bay front office wants nothing to do with him. They are content with going forward with Aaron Rodgers and Brian Brohm - two unseasoned, unproven commodities - instead of the man that defined their franchise for the past 15 years.
Let me tell you, if your team has a real, reputable quarterback, you should hang onto him like grim death. That hot young prospect might look talented, even a bit sexy, but once you’ve seen enough Cade McNowns you know that most of them are nothing more than a good haircut and a big contract.
It would be one thing if Favre's skills had greatly diminished, or if his performances had shown he just can't cut it anymore. This is hardly the case. With over 4000 yards, 28 touchdowns and a 95.7 QB rating in 2007, he's coming off one of the best years of his career. Sure, his abilities have declined a bit, but there's no reason to suspect that he’ll turn into Chad Hutchinson.
I would like to think this would never happen with my beloved Bears. If Walter Payton wanted to come back in 1988, he would have had a spot in our backfield. If Gale Sayers' knees healed, we would have welcomed him with open arms. If Dick Butkus could have gotten healthy, we would have been happy to have him kicking and spitting at opponents for another couple seasons.
I keep hearing that the Packers want to “move on,” as if there were a death in the family or something. To this I say bullhonkey. Managing a football franchise should be about constructing a team that can with the most games. It appears that the Packers GM Ted Thompson has lost sight of this.
Thompson and other Packer executives recently sat down with Favre and discussed his wishes to return to the team. Reports say they were unenthusiastic about his return. Today, Favre announced he wished to be unconditionally released from the final two years of his contract.
In sports, front office executives are usually accused of thinking too much in the present, not having enough long-term perspective. This situation seems to be the opposite. Thompson appears to be too wrapped up in his future plans to see what's right in front his face. As he ignores the Hall-of-Fame quarterback begging to play for his team, he is accepting inferiority and gift-wrapping a good player with a chip on his shoulder for the competition.
It will be a decision the folks in Green Bay will soon regret.
Sleep well Green Bay. Just know there are plenty of teams like the Bears licking their chops.
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