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Brett Favre's Retirement: Why Detroit Lions Fans Should Care

Dean Holden@@Dean_HoldenAnalyst IAugust 4, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 24:  Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings warms up as Sage Rosenfels #2 looks on against the New Orleans Saints during the NFC Championship Game at the Louisiana Superdome on January 24, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Before I say one word about Brett Favre's "retirement," let me first say this: I don't believe it.

Right now, I don't believe it because it's a "report" from an unnamed source citing a conversation between Favre's "people" and Vikings "personnel."

If Brett Favre comes out and announces it officially, I won't believe it.

When Tarvaris Jackson takes the Vikings' first snap of the regular season against the New Orleans Saints...I'll be closer to believing it. A little.

With that said, even if Lions fans don't care about Favre's annual carousel of madness, the fact is, the boys in Honolulu blue have a good deal at stake regarding Favre's decision.

Oddly enough, none of that has to do with things happening this year. What you're about to hear is effectively a rehash of what I said about Favre returning last year. It was true then, and it's still true now.

Namely, that the longer Favre hangs around, the better off the Lions are. Frankly, I want him back in Minnesota. His presence allows Brad Childress to ignore the quarterback position on his team in a long-term sense.

Everybody has known, for a long time, that Tarvaris Jackson is in no way the answer to the Vikings' quarterback issues. Sage Rosenfels is the only answer to the backup issue.

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And yet, if Favre doesn't return, that's exactly what the Vikings are looking at. No high draft pick, no project quarterback with upside and a bright future. No Aaron Rodgers. Just two guys everybody already knows can't hack it.

It has, therefore, been an inevitability for the Vikings to find a new young stud at quarterback to take the reigns.

After all, one would think that the time was perfect to start grooming a new star quarterback in Minnesota. The rest of the Vikings' offense is high-powered and running on all cylinders, and Favre was in place to keep the pressure off the kid until he was ready.

Had they drafted a quarterback last year, he would be more than ready now. Had they drafted a quarterback this year, he could have been their backup plan to this exact scenario.

Instead, Childress put all his eggs into a 40-year-old basket with grey hair and a bad ankle, deciding to pretend that quarterbacks other than Favre didn't exist.

Now, what does this mean in Detroit? Well, whether Favre is back or not, the Vikings are going to be a better team than the Lions this year. Deal with that. The rest of the team is good enough to carry them to a lot of wins, at least for now.

But what about next year? Next year, the Lions are going to be improved. They'll have a strong-armed quarterback with weapons and two years' experience ready to break out. Next year, for the first time in a long time, the Lions' window will open a tiny crack, and the daylight of a possible playoff berth will begin to seep in.

The Vikings, next year, will probably be trying to groom a 23-year-old quarterback fast enough to make a serious playoff run before their window starts to close.

And their window will start to close soon. They were operating on borrowed time with Favre in town to begin with, and it was Childress' folly that he made no attempt to secure the quarterback position in the time he was lucky enough to have Favre as a stopgap.

The fact that the Vikings were a play from the Super Bowl last year means absolutely less than nothing to the Detroit Lions. If Favre returns this year and beats them two more times, that will mean equally nothing. The Lions have little to no chance of making the playoffs this year, anyway.

But Brett Favre is setting the Lions' division rival back. They're very good with him, but they're good at a time when the Lions are in no position to do anything about it. Vikings beat us twice? What else is new?

Without Favre, they're above-average, no more. And of course, if Favre hadn't come back at all, they would have had no choice but to address the quarterback issue with a strong prospect. Jimmy Clausen or Colt McCoy could have ended up in the NFC North.

Say what you want about those two, but they have more upside than Jackson or Rosenfels. But they won't be playing the Lions twice next year, armed with a year of NFL experience. Some rookie will.

Next year, the Lions will come in with the more seasoned quarterback (and therefore the more fluid offense), and just maybe, a defense capable of taking advantage of a rookie quarterback.

Do the Lions have that this year?

Maybe. Probably not. Matthew Stafford is still learning the ropes, and the defense, while more talented than in years past, is raw and still full of holes. It would be the perfect time for a rookie Viking to take his lumps and learn the ropes.

But no. Thanks to Brett Favre, the Vikings will have to make that difficult quarterback transition at the perfect time for the Lions.

Right when they prepare to leapfrog the Vikes into the top tier of the NFC North.

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