Back when Brett Favre actually talked directly to the media, he had a habit (endearing or annoying, depending upon your point of view) of posing questions to himself and then answering them. In that vein, I’ll do the same while tackling the topic of Favre’s retirement/return, but keep in mind, these are merely my opinions…I have not staked out Ted Thompson in the driveway of his Green Bay home, nor have I camped outside the Favre estate in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Is Ted Thompson to blame for all this mess?
You may think that way if you sincerely believe you could be an NFL GM based on your superior performance in your office fantasy football league. You may also think that way if you’re a chronic caller to sports-talk radio (or a serial poster on sports message boards) and you specialize in knee-jerk reactions to your team’s sub-par performance by constantly griping that certain players need to be benched, cut, or traded, or that certain coaches, managers, or general managers need to be fired. However, I can’t blame Thompson for trying to move the team forward when Favre was supposedly retired, or for being just a little hesitant now that Favre has reversed field once again. Beyond that, at least Thompson spoke directly to some media members Saturday–Favre’s been doing his talking through Al Jones of the Biloxi Herald, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, agent Bus Cook, and various family members. Thompson has the entire Packers organization to think about…Brett Favre only has to do what’s best for Brett Favre.
Was Favre sincere when he held his retirement news conference or was it all just a big act?
Brett Favre may be good at many things related to football, but the guy cannot act–go back and watch his cameo in the movie "There’s Something About Mary." I believe Favre was very sincere when he sat at the podium in a Lambeau Field atrium conference room on March 4th. But I also believe he changed his mind more than once on the plane to Green Bay, more than once on the flight back to Mississippi, and more than once in the succeeding months.
What’s with Favre’s indecision–isn’t he a quarterback?
That’s part of the issue…Favre’s always been a quarterback, but decision-making skills on the field don’t always translate off of it. While Favre’s spent a lot of time mulling over his decision whether or not to retire, he probably hasn’t done a lot of thinking about life after football.
But he’s Brett Favre, isn’t he entitled to change his mind?
Sure…but there has to be a point at which he says, "This is what I’m going to do…" and actually means it. It’s a tough decision with a lot of consquences, but dragging things out hasn’t helped anyone, especially himself. I’ll give him some benefit of the doubt, in the sense that he’s probably feeling far less burned out than he did in January, February, or March.
Is it possible that Favre simply wants out of Green Bay?
That’s a distinct possibility. It would explain the way he’s gone about returning to the NFL, through semi-covert channels, in a way that attempts to paint him as the victim and the organization as the villain. Even though Bus Cook asked the Packers for Favre’s unconditional release, the agent had to know that the organization would be unwilling to grant that request, so it becomes a starting point for a negotiation in which Favre gets traded to a non-NFC North division team.
Is it possible that the Packers don’t want Favre anymore?
That is also a distinct possibility. The Packers may be tired of the annual Favre retirement saga, or maybe they genuinely think Aaron Rodgers is "the guy." If Favre retired (and stayed retired), it keeps the organization from having to push a legendary quarterback out the door. It’s a simple power play, and in the NFL, the players may be the stars but the power rests in ownership and managment.
Does Favre give the Packers a better opportunity to win now compared to Aaron Rodgers?
My initial response is yes…but that’s based on past history, which, like investing, is no guarantee of future results. Saying yes also assumes that Favre’s 2007 was a reversal of a downward statistical trend, and not merely an aberration–in other words, there’s no guarantee that Brett ’08 will duplicate or exceed the production of Brett ’07. Favre was a large part of the Packers’ success in 2007, but he was by no means the only reason the team went 13-3. Assume Rodgers takes over, doesn’t put up Favre-like numbers for yardage and TD’s but also throws fewer INT’s…does the team have a better chance of winning then?
Isn’t Rodgers injury-prone?
Football is a collision sport, and it’s a simple fact players get injured in the course of games and practices. Players are prone to injuries because they play the game of football. Again, just because Rodgers has been out with injuries in his first few seasons doesn’t mean he’s destined to get hurt again. Likewise, just because Favre hasn’t missed a start in forever doesn’t mean that that streak coudn’t come to an end in week one of the ’08 season after a vicious hit. Credit Favre for displaying tremendous toughness to keep playing all these years despite a long list of injuries. Then again, Favre has figured out how to avoid a lot of contact. We can all recall how he’d backpedal out of the pocket after delivering a pass so as to keep defensive players from diving at his knees and ankles. If there was a fumble in the backfield these last few seasons, Favre was the guy running away from the pile. If he threw a pick, Favre was not the guy steaming downfield to make a tackle. Do I blame him? Not at all…his value to the team was at quarterback, not as a blocker or tackler. As a QB, his escapability over his career was often amazing…but there may come a time when he can’t escape the rush…and that time could be sooner rather than later.
Has Rodgers proven himself to be anointed the starter?
In the organization’s eyes, he has, and that’s really all that matters. Keep in mind that pro football players are analyzed constantly, on a daily basis, in practices, games and even off the field, by people who do it as their full-time job. I think they may have a better handle on things than the aforementioned fantasy football league winner. It may be a risk to hand the offense to Aaron Rodgers right now, but it’s a calculated risk. Back in 1992, the organization handed the team’s offense over to an unproven Brett Favre…there were early ups and downs, but there was also a win in Super Bowl XXXI.
If Rodgers is so good, why did he drop so far on draft day?
Could it be because the people who try to predict the precise order of draft picks might have been off just a bit? Could it be because teams often say one thing prior to a draft and then do another? Draft order doesn’t guarantee NFL success…but it is true that first-round picks get a little extra time to prove themselves.
If Rodgers is so good, why did the Packers draft Brian Brohm and then Matt Flynn?
Simple…the Packers needed quarterbacks. In April, Brett Favre was retired with no stated plans to return. Sure, there’s a financial component to the decision, but I don’t have a problem with Brohm and Flynn being backups versus someone like Daunte Culpepper. Mike McCarthy has the reputation of being a QB guru, so if both Brohm and Flynn improve over the next few years, one or the other could be the franchise quarterback if the Rodgers experiment doesn’t work. If Rodgers turns out to be a good NFL quarterback in Green Bay, then Brohm or Flynn have trade value to the Packers, and perhaps their careers turn out like former Favre backups Mark Brunell or Matt Hasselbeck. And don’t forget, both of those guys were drafted by Green Bay despite Favre’s presence on the Packers roster.
Why not let them both Favre and Rodgers compete for the job in training camp?
In theory, it’s a great idea…if training camp were to be held at a remote location in the Himalayas. Last I checked, camp is still set to open on July 28 at Clarke Hinkle Field, right across the street from Lambeau Field. If this situation is a public relations nightmare now, imagine the media circus on July 28 if both Rodgers and Favre are on the practice field for the beginning of training camp. Imagine the crowds of fans behind the fences, one group of "railbirds" cheering Favre and jeering Rodgers, while another group does the opposite. Imagine fans booing Ted Thompson when the GM shows up at practice. Imagine all the statewide and national media posing questions to other players about whether they back Favre or Rodgers. Any team with Super Bowl aspirations does not want to start the season with a quarterback controversy–especially this one, which promises to set the standard by which all future controversies will be measured. Whoever wins the "competition" will be under a ridiculous amount of scrutiny once the season starts, and whatever decision is made gets second-guessed into another stratosphere.
How does this situation get resolved?
Any number of scenarios could happen. In no particular order of probability, here they are:
If Favre is willing to play for the Packers and could commit to two more seasons with no changes of heart (that’s a HUGE "if"), then Green Bay could trade Rodgers and get whatever it can in return, while then starting to groom Brian Brohm to be the next franchise quarterack.
If Favre doesn’t want to be in Green Bay any more but still wants to play in the NFL, then the Packers trade him to a team outside the NFC North.
The Packers convince Rodgers to hang around a little longer as a backup, figuring that Favre’s "itch" will go away once the stress and drudgery of the season replaces the excitement of looking ahead to the season. I can envision Rodgers sitting at his locker, repeating the mantra, "I’m one play away…I’m one play away…I’m one play away…"
Favre flip-flops again, decides that he really is done with football, and retires, only this time, for good.
Favre finds out he’s not able to control the situation of where he might play next, decides he doesn’t need the hassle, and retires.
Will the Packers give Favre his unconditional release?
When will we hear from Favre directly?
Good question…with the Packers statement Saturday, I’m thinking it could happen soon. Do you suppose anyone from ESPN is pushing for an Favre exclusive this week during Major League Baseball’s All-Star break? ESPN has the broadcast rights to Monday’s home run derby, which could be a great lead-in to a Favre sit-down interview.
Are you done taking self-imposed questions about Brett Favre?
Posted under Hometown Sports
This post was written by bbradovich on July 14, 2008