Dec. 11, 2010 Saturday
Just when did the ultimate team sport become all about the individual accolades anyway? When teams start putting individual performances and accomplishment ahead of everything else is when football stops becoming a team sport.
I have been as big a Brett Favre fan as anyone and I have fully supported his decision to play, retire, return, and request trades over the past several seasons.
I think based on his accomplishments, he’s earned the right to change his mind no matter what direction it takes him.
From watching the young Brett Favre grow into this football legend and Icon, what I have admired most is his passion to play the game. It just seems the little boy in him always seems to show up on Sunday.
It’s hard to not be a fan of that. That’s probably why he has remained as popular as he has over his long and illustrious career.
Now in his 20th season, it may be time to start taking a closer look at the future of Favre and the Minnesota Vikings.
With just four games remaining in the 2010 season, the Vikings (5-7) have yet to be eliminated mathematically, but based on what we know and have seen their hopes of another magical postseason run likely ended when they lost to the Bears (9-3) back in Week 10.
So here are the Vikings and head coach Leslie Frazier, basically playing for pride with their regular starting quarterback banged up and highly questionable for Sunday.
Favre has hardly practiced this week, returning only Friday and participating in a very limited basis. He took some snaps with the first team and was handing off using his left hand, undoubtedly protecting the injured right shoulder.
In a heated race with the life of the team on the line, you always want your best players on the field in any capacity. That being said, the Vikings aren’t in any fight and with the 2010 about wrapped up; there are now other things that should take priority.
The Vikings have Favre today, but in all likelihood now at the young tender age of 41 this is his last season. It’s probably overdue, but it’s time to start looking ahead and making plans for the post-Favre era.
After watching backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson step on the field last week and lead the Vikings to a decisive 38-14 win over the Bills, maybe the future for Minnesota is not as dire as first perceived.
That has always been the cause for getting Favre and sticking with him as long as the organization has, because they obviously did not have faith in their backup quarterbacks to lead this team.
With a difficult matchup this Sunday against the Giants, one of the league’s toughest pass rushes (37 sacks, ranked 3rd) to block, Frazier must now look at both his 41-year old quarterback (who is banged up) and Jackson to decide who is the best player.
An aging quarterback who is far less than 100 percent and a youthful mobile quarterback who can make the plays and the throws this team will need to win; the decision should be that simple.
So why is it not?
When you consider the 41-year old is quarterback Brett Favre who has not missed a start (297 straight) since September 27th, 1992, it can’t be helped that his incredible ironman streak comes into consideration.
Being that Frazier is human and well aware of the Favre streak, it would be hard for him or any person for that matter to ignore and based on what it being reported it appears Favre will given every chance to start on Sunday.
This may be the case, but truth of the matter it probably makes better sense for Favre to sit and Jackson start.
The streak is what it is. In all likelihood it would end four games from now at 301 and while the number 300 looks impressive, is 297 really any less impressive (and any less likely to ever be broken).
If the Vikings choose to let Favre start and he decides to give it a go; what does the Vikings and Favre really gain?
Sure the Vikings want their best skill players out there Sunday, but at 41 and less than his best, is Favre still the better answer than Jackson. Remember Jackson completed 15 of 22 passes last week and threw two touchdowns.
Jackson has also been in this system longer and has been practicing with these same players (Rice, Peterson, Harvin) for the past couple of seasons too. I think we saw the benefit of that last week.
The real truth of the matter is Jackson and most of the other Vikings that will suit up on Sunday are not just playing for Sunday, but they are also playing for next season.
I am sure most everyone (except Brett’s favorite Favre haters) would love to see him take the field once again and continue the great streak, but there really is no more point to it that supersedes what the team can gain from a successful outing from a Jackson-led offense.
For the most part throughout his career, when Favre took the field each game had meaning; there was a purpose. Favre was playing for home field advantage, to earn a playoff berth, to win a division, or to win a much needed game.
This Sunday, what would be the purpose for Favre to play?
Favre in all accounts is at the end of a career that he has basically managed to avoid any significant lasting injury. Even if he feels good, you can’t get away from the fact he won’t be 100 percent and risks further injury.
With a healthy and much more mobile Jackson ready and able, it would make better sense for the Vikings to have Favre (if he can play) suited up to play back up; start Jackson.
The argument can go round and round, but it will likely come down to how Favre feels on Sunday.
We can all applaud and admire Favre’s competitive spirit, but maybe it’s time for him to show us more of what we may have missed; his commitment to the best interest of the team.
This game is not about a single player’s accomplishments; it’s about the team. Favre is one of the greats of all time and with the many records he now holds he will one day have his time in the sun (at Canton).
But on Sunday, he can be a great teammate and team player by taking a spot on the sideline backing up a young quarterback with the aspirations of contributing even just a fraction of what he’s been able to do in his 20 seasons.
Just my take.
By David Ortega
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