It is very difficult for me to feel sorry for a millionaire, but I feel a little bad for Aaron Rodgers. History shows that you don't want to be the man who replaces The Man. Rather, you want to be the man who replaces the man who replaces The Man. Rodgers has no such luxury. He has the white-hot eyes of Packer Fan upon him, and for 16 years, Packer Fan has been embroiled in a tempestuous love affair with Brett Favre. The pain of the break-up is still quite raw, but on Sunday, Green Bay begins training camp, and Packer Fan will begin to move on with Aaron Rodgers, the Rebound Guy.
To add a little more spice to the drama, Brett Favre says he intends to be in camp, ostensibly content to be the backup. Mike McCarthy held a press conference Saturday afternoon, stating unequiviocally that Rodgers will begin camp Number One on the depth chart, taking snaps with the first team offense. Left unsaid is the implication that, should Favre file the necessary paperwork and report, the most prolific quarterback in NFL history will tote a clipboard for the Packers this year.
We know that's not about to happen, but the staring contest between Favre and the Packers continues, and neither appears ready to blink.
In just about any dispute between labor and management, I will come down on the side of labor, but in this case, player and team are both right -- and both wrong. Favre is right to want to play football until he is no longer able. I believe every player has that right. The Packers, for their part, have the right to begin their future now, and they have the right to go into camp knowing for certain who their quarterback is.
Favre, of course, is wrong for jerking the Packers around. In this, he has been wrong for a couple of years. With this whole yes-no, yes-no, yes-no thing, Favre seems like a teenaged girl debating, in the mirror, whether or not to allow her boyfriend to get to second base. The Packers, on the other hand, have not handled this thing with the utmost grace. When contacted by Favre about a possible return tour, GM Ted Thompson's reply was that he was on vacation, and that he would discuss the situation when he returned. That hardly qualifies as a definitive answer.
I maintain that, when opening day rolls around, Brett Favre will not be in Green Bay. Commissioner Roger Goodell has reportedly stepped in, advising Green Bay to stop posturing and try to make a deal. They have made a few calls, and speculation has varied as to which team Favre will land on.
Tampa Bay is the sexy pick here. Jon Gruden and Favre have a history, and as we all know, Gruden would fill half his roster with quarterbacks if he could. The problem with that is Jeff Garcia. Garcia had an amazing career rebirth in Philly in '06, and made the Pro Bowl with the Bucs last season. One could make the argument that Garcia, not Favre, is the best QB for Tampa right now. No, my guess would be Baltimore. They are not merely a quarterback away from being a contender, but they think they are. Kyle Boller is not the answer, Troy Smith is a bit short at 6'0", and Joe Flacco is talented but very raw. Baltimore makes sense for Favre.
Still, there are at least 10 teams that wouldn't mind having Favre under center for at least one season. If one of them can fulfill the Packers' needs and Favre's, we will see a sight we once believed to be unthinkable: Brett Favre in another team's uniform.