Brett Favre: Why Retirement Is No Longer A Debate

Ryan FallerAnalyst IDecember 21, 2010

Brett Favre is attended to by the Vikings' medical staff after suffering a concussion in the secod quarter of Minnesota's 40-14 loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday night. (Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty images)
Brett Favre is attended to by the Vikings' medical staff after suffering a concussion in the secod quarter of Minnesota's 40-14 loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday night. (Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty images)

Brett Favre lay motionless on the TCF Bank Stadium turf, his nerve endings seemingly impervious to the chill of the unforgiving surface below.

It was a troubling sight, and one made even more so by the fact that Favre shouldn’t have been playing. And yet, at the same time, it was a scene disturbingly consistent with and befitting of a season during which the future Hall of Famer has overextended his stay.

And his health.

Following the Minnesota Vikings’ 40-14 loss to Chicago, Favre insisted the frozen playing surface, not the hit doled out by Bears defensive end Corey Wootton, was to blame for the concussion Monday night that caused him to go “blank” for a time.

Either way, Brett, it’s time to hang ‘em up.

And not in the sense where you say you’re going to quit football, spend the spring making retirement plans, get an itch to play around the latter part of summer, and scratch said itch just in time for training camp.

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Spend the last two games of this season tutoring Joe Webb and Tarvaris Jackson. As you clean out your locker, make a pitch to the front office to retain Leslie Frazier as head coach. But after you say your goodbyes to your teammates, spend a few days with your family, pretending as if you’re actually weighing options.

Struggle with a decision for a few days, if you must; we don’t mind. But when it comes time to conduct what has become your annual “Will he or won’t he” press conference, declare your decision to retire.

Unequivocally and with conviction.

Of course, people will believe it when they see it.

What’s plain to see now is that Favre’s skills are eroding, although, at age 41, he may still be better than at least a fourth of the quarterbacks in the league. That much was clear last season, when he outperformed three-fourths of his peers.

And maybe that’s why the Vikings have continued to put up with his antics and trot him out there this season with half a throwing shoulder and a laundry list of other injuries.

But Favre needs to get out of his own way, not to mention that of the Vikings, a team that really needs to move on despite having no viable option at quarterback for the immediate — and, possibly, foreseeable — future.

Frazier, or whoever is hired as the next head coach in Minnesota, needs to assess what the organization’s prospects are for the long-term, specifically at quarterback, where the Vikings held somewhat of a revolving door between the departure of Duante Culpepper and the arrival of Favre.

And that can’t get done with Favre limping around the team facilities, listed as questionable from week to week. The streak of consecutive games played was great, but now that it’s over, it’s time to call a spade a spade: Just because you can hobble out there all hero-like doesn’t mean you’re helping your team.

It was noble of Favre to gut it out Monday for the sake of the fans and the Vikings’ 50th anniversary celebration, but instead of fading away gracefully on the sideline, he put himself at risk for a final knockout blow.

Lo and behold, it may have been landed, though no one has yet to rule out Favre this Sunday against Philadelphia.

Favre has endured an encyclopedia’s worth of ailments during his 20 NFL seasons, but this season’s chart is especially mind-blowing.

Apparently three months’ time has not been enough for his ankle to heal. That’s why, along with the right shoulder, Favre will have it operated on soon after the season ends. Rehab for the ankle notwithstanding, the lingering effects of surgery on his throwing shoulder should give Favre pause long enough to choose retirement.

If not, then Monday night’s shot to the cranium should be the cherry on top. Shots to the head are not to be taken lightly, and Favre admitted in an interview last December that he’s uncertain how many concussions he’s suffered over the last two decades.

Jokingly or not, if you can’t reveal the number of times you’ve sidestepped potential lifelong head injury, it’s time to get out.

That is what I think Favre should do and will do.

Maybe then the Vikings can move on and we can start remembering Favre for what he’s done in the past and stop telling him what he should do with his future.

Which, hopefully, is riding off into the sunset in one piece.