Open Mic: To Retire Or Not To Retire

JerseySenior Analyst IJuly 22, 2008

The Brett Favre saga should never have begun. Favre retired, case closed. Sure, everyone has the right to change his mind. But by doing so, Favre has hurt his team: they spent an entire offseason preparing themselves for the post-Favre era, and to come back at this point in the year is counter-productive.

His change of heart is detrimental to the team, and while the man does have a legacy, the team has to put the team first, and is making the right decision by not allowing him to simply step in and reclaim his old role.

Favre's indecisiveness brings to mind a few other retirement-related situations, from players who retired too early, to players who retired too late, to players who retired and then un-retired.

Favre's situation seems eerily similar to Roger Clemens' decision in 2003. Clemens retired from baseball that year after a productive "final" season in New York, and went out with dignity, like Favre. But just a little while later, he changed his mind.

However, Clemens' change of heart is more justified than Favre's. Clemens wasn't just "itchy". His best friend Andy Pettitte had signed with the Astros, his hometown team. Clemens realized he could still play with his buddy, and would be able to play half his games at home anyway, so he could spend more time with his family.

Imagine if Favre's pal Michael Strahan had decided to play for the hypothetical team in Kiln, Mississippi, Favre's hometown. Then Favre's decision to un-retire might not have gained such negative press. Favre instead comes across as merely fickle and disruptive.

At least he isn't like Scott Niedermayer (one of my favorite players) or Teemu Selannne, two players for the Anaheim Ducks who vacillated about retirement until the middle of the season.

Favre may be throwing a monkey wrench into the Packers' plan, but at least he isn't keeping them on a string for half the year. By the same token, however, Favre is the quarterback, a much more integral piece to a football team than any skater in hockey is to his respective team.

Still, he isn't like the most famous un-retiree, Michael Jordan. Jordan at least went to pursue some other desire (baseball) before realizing he's really a basketball player, after his game with the Looney Tunes.

In all seriousness, though, Jordan didn't just change his mind right after retiring. He retired, took his time off, and then came back. And no matter how great he was, Jordan was still one of five interchangeable players on the court, not a quarterback, so he was able to slip in more fluidly.

John Vanbriesbrouck of the New Jersey Devils also un-retired, but his decision actually helped his team. He had retired before the season, not leaving his team in suspense like Niedermayer and Selanne, and when he saw the team needed a backup goalie, he decided to come to the team's aid.

Favre may be a more established quarterback that Aaron Rodgers, but at this point in the year, he is still doing more harm than good. The team does not have a need at quarterback right now: Rodgers is starting, and he has shown enough skill on the college level to earn the Packers' faith.

Unless Rodgers proves incapable, Favre is only mudding up a currently settled situation.

Why can't Favre be like Michael Strahan? Both players remain capable, and are coming off strong seasons. But Strahan chose to retire at the top off his game, not allowing his age to dwindle his skills, like Brad Ausmus or Criag Biggio, whose end-of-career stats do not match the rest of their careers'.

Favre appeared to be taking the high road out, but now seems capricious.

If Favre comes back and plays poorly (see Roger Clemens circa 2007), it would only compound the fact that he is hanging on too long. While he could retire on a high note, he is risking retiring as an old, washed-up former star.

This is yet another reason why Favre shouldn't come back: in addition to hurting his team and his reputation, he could be hurting his career numbers.

Of course, there can be some benefits to hanging on. Last year, Keith Van Horn never bothered to officially retire, and as such became an integral piece in a trade with the Nets.

By hanging on for too long, Van Horn made millions last year without having to appear in a single game. This situation is exceptionally rare, however.

I'm pleased that the Packers are doing the right thing, neither allowing Favre to steal his old role back, nor granting his release. No matter his legacy, they need to do what's best for the team, and that's exactly what they're doing.

Favre may play for a different team next season, but at least Green Bay can decide which team that is. Favre will look out-of-place in another team's uniform (like Michael Jordan on the Wizards), and his number-retirement ceremony will undoubtedly be canceled.

He will likely remain on the cover of EA's Madden 09, but he shouldn't—the cover nod was a tribute to a retired great, and he's no longer retired. It's hard to just say no to a legend, but it sure would be nice if Favre would just let go.


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