Various reports, along with a number of unnamed sources have seemed to make it official. Brett Favre is done with football. Or is he? Vikings head coach Brad Childress said on Tuesday that he hasn’t heard any decision directly from Favre himself. But if this is indeed true, it would certainly deflate the sails of a team which came within one game of the Super Bowl last year, and would leave Minnesota with a less than ideal quarterback situation.
The team must have felt pretty sure that Brett was coming back for his 20th NFL season, because they didn’t bother using a high draft pick on another signal caller. When they did take a quarterback, it wasn’t until the end of the sixth round when they selected Joe Webb from UAB. Had they known that Favre would be hanging up the cleats for good, I’m sure they would have taken a long look at grabbing a ‘QB of the future’ like Jimmy Clausen who fell all the way to No. 48.
As it stands, Minnesota will have Tavaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels atop their depth chart. Jackson was picked in the 2006 draft as a project pick that still hasn’t panned out, while Rosenfels has been a career journeyman. Neither player has the pedigree to start under center for an NFL team, but at least they both have positive TD/INT ratios for their careers—but only by the slimmest of margins. Undoubtedly, the Vikings would have one of the weakest QB positions in the league.
This is the main reason Favre’s annual antics have grown tiresome and have become a bitter pill to swallow for anyone that follows sports. Since Favre’s first bout with the idea or retirement following the ’06 season, every spring has revolved around the question of ‘will he stay or will he go?’ In a way he has held teams hostage. They need to prepare for the upcoming season with Favre in uniform, but they must also plan for him not showing up. As much as Brett is only one player on the field, he commands the position that a team and specifically an offense must build or plan around.
Favre has earned himself a leash that is longer than others during these types of proceedings based on the resume of work throughout his career. But no one deserves to hold this kind of control over a team and its fan base; or an entire league. For as much backlash as Ricky Williams received when he chose to abruptly retire before the 2004 season, Favre has not lost many of his supporters, even in the media (which he has led on for each of the past four years).
Now, I don’t know Brett Favre. I have never met him nor spoken with him, but I doubt he believes he is the bad guy in all this. I think he’s just like a big kid that will never grow up and still loves the game of football and he doesn‘t know how to quit. He knows that he’s getting older; he knows that his body is slowing down, but his mind just doesn’t want to give it all up. He probably wants to both play forever and never play again all at the same time. That's what makes this decision so hard for him. He still thinks he can do it; and probably still can as evidenced by his numbers of a season ago. And I’m not sure how these recent indiscretions will alter the legacy that we will remember him by, but it can’t be good for the fans he has led on or those he has left behind.
But we’re also talking about a player who was always done things his way. When the pressure was on and the O-line fell apart, the playbook would go out the window and Brett would ‘improvise’. He would make it up as he went, and I think that's what he is still doing today; just making his mind up as he goes. One day he wants to play, the next day, not so much.
So, all of these reports may still turn out to be less than accurate. After all, it’s not like Favre has never changed his mind before. But if they are indeed true, it means that he’ll have left his third team high and dry in the last four years.
The Vikings are a team built to win now, and he’s part of that formula. They can’t win without him, but they can win with him.