Brett Favre is a Hall of Fame quarterback.
He owns most of the major all-time NFL passing records and is considered by many to be the greatest iron man in sports history.
Last season, he had one of the best years of his career, leading the Green Bay Packers to the NFC Championship Game and boasting an almost 2-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Most importantly, he connected with the town of Green Bay and Packers fans everywhere on an emotional level. From the Monday Night Football game against the Raiders after his dad's death to his battles with drug addiction, he was a sympathetic figure to much of middle America. Many more fans cheered Favre than booed him.
However, the decision by Brett Favre to return to football after an emotional retirement was made with purely selfish motives--with no regard for the franchise that gave him a chance--and planned to retire his jersey--or the fan base that embraced him.
The Packers are now stuck squarely between a rock and a hard place; the franchise has moved on to the point that bringing Favre back into the fold could prove devastating. They cannot have Brett Favre back, but they certainly cannot tell Green Bay's most beloved sports figure to take a hike.
At this point, there is nothing positive that can happen from this situation--not for the Packers, not for Favre.
What would Favre expect the Packers to do? They encouraged him--whether half-heartedly or not--to play another year; when he officially retired, general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy moved on, drafting two quarterbacks in April and ushering in a new era with a modified offensive scheme.
And now Favre's "itch" to play has put the Packers' front office in a sticky situation.
The Packers will have to get rid of Favre somehow. Allowing him to remain on the roster would be a slap in the face to Aaron Rodgers, who has waited his turn for three years, has been told he is the starting quarterback going forward, and has been running the team--successfully--for some time now.
Releasing Favre would be a disaster, as division rivals Minnesota and Chicago are two of the more prominent suitors for his services. Trading him is the best option, but Favre has said he wants the flexibility to choose his new team.
So the Packers don't have any cut-and-dry solutions.
Favre's legacy is also in jeopardy; anybody remember Joe Montana in Kansas City? True, Montana is still known as a great quarterback for the 49ers, but his time in Kansas City was forgettable at best. Any team Favre joins would have to endure those comparisons all season long.
His decision to return is also an insult to the town of Green Bay and to the multitudes of Packers fans who have bailed Favre out for years when the criticism of his reckless style of play has risen.
Favre could have chosen to go out in a blaze of glory; fans would have forgotten the interception in the playoffs against the New York Giants. Instead, they would have remembered the sincere words of a man who realized he couldn't give the game what it needed anymore.
Now, fans will be forced to watch him struggle wearing another jersey, in another city.
Brett Favre fans--you know, the ones who idolized and defended him as someone who understood what it meant to be one of them, to face struggles that many ordinary Americans face and still come out on top--have now had to embrace a troubling reality.
The man they raised up as more than just a football player is merely that. Just another professional athlete in America trying to put himself above the game.
And that's a shame.
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