Brett Favre Returns To Minnesota Vikings: Why the Charade Needs To Stop

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Brett Favre Returns To Minnesota Vikings: Why the Charade Needs To Stop
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

In a decision that surprised few, Brett Favre announced today that he would return to the Minnesota Vikings for what he called his final season.

It makes sense for Favre to return.

The Vikings were a Super Bowl contender last season before losing to the Saints in the NFC Championship game, and return with similar championship potential in 2010.

Returning to Minnesota certainly gives Favre the opportunity to end his career on a high note.  And there's little doubt that he can do it.  Favre had one of his best seasons in 2009, setting career highs in completion percentage (68.4) and quarterback rating (107.2.)

He also threw for 4,202 yards and and 33 touchdowns, with only seven interceptions.

By coming back Favre also will pocket $16.5 million, a figure that could reach $20 million if he meets each bonus requirement.  Although he has all the money he will ever need by now, a few exta million certainly never hurts.

So why should he have stayed away? 

The answer is that Favre is establishing a dangerous precedent–not just for football, but for all professional sports.

We have seen this act played out before–with Roger Clemens.  Clemens, at the tail end of his career, decided he was tired of enduring an entire regular season but that he wasn't tired of collecting huge paychecks.

So Clemens did what anybody in his position would've done.  He sat out spring training and saved his arm for the stretch run and the playoffs, while still earning millions. There would've been no shortage of teams interested in his services had he decided to leave Houston.

Had Clemens' name not surfaced around the steroid scandal, he'd probably be still doing it.

Favre is essentially doing the same thing. He may be committing himself to a playoff run, but there is nothing stopping him from skipping the preseason and even the first few weeks of the regular season.  The money is on the table regardless of when he decides to take it.

Make no mistake–other athletes will begin copying Favre and Clemens.

Do you think LeBron James won't look to extend his career into his 40's by signing late season contracts just to play in the playoffs?

What about Alex Rodriguez? Why ever retire?

This is bad news for professional sports. Yes, we get to see our favorite players play longer; but at what cost?

Allowing players to sign midseason contracts severely handicaps teams and destroys parity. Teams must reserve salary cap space to give them the opportunity to sign one of these players, meaning they won't be able to spend that money to address other roster needs.  For the teams that miss out on signing one of these players, that becomes unutlized money. 

In leagues like MLB that don't have a salary cap, teams with more payroll flexibility are going to be able to able to swipe all of the players. The Yankees are already doing this to an extent in free agency.  Imagine if they're suddenly allowed to bid on a who's who list of former greats.

There would be no stopping them.

Favre signed a two-year contract in 2009 and, to his credit, he is honoring it. But he needs to stay retired after this season. He needs to stop holding the Vikings franchise hostage. Players already look up to Favre.

We can only hope they won't follow his example.

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