Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Brett Favre Situation Seen From Both Sides

"What about Brett Fav... ruh?" (Quote uttered by the Ben Stiller character in There's
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Something About Mary.)

  • From the Packers point-of-view:
How much longer were they supposed to sit and wait to see if Brett Favre was going to return? How could they expect to compete this season if they let Favre do as he's done over the past several years and drag his decision deeply into the summer without having the faintest idea as to what they're going to do if he did finally decide to retire? The waiting game from 2007 was nowhere near as bad as it was in 2006 when Favre waffled and occasionally made such arrogant statements as "What are they gonna do? Cut me?" as the Packers grew impatient with his indecision. There's a certain
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amount of leeway and power a player the pedigree and accomplishments the level of Favre has with his organization, but where does it end?
The Packers had every right to say to Favre at the end of last season that they needed an answer as quickly as possible to move forward. Aaron Rodgers has been sitting behind Favre for three years after being a first round draft choice and he's going to need as much time as possible to grow accustomed to the idea and great weight that comes along with following a legend. For Favre to hold a tearful press conference in which he "retires" and then decides that he wants to come back is putting the organization in a terrible position. They've already moved forward because they were stuck in a catch-22 where they were going to get criticized one way or the other. If they'd waited for
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Favre and he decided to retire, they'd be scrambling to get the young quarterback ready; if they did as they've done and Favre decided to come back, they'd have a livid fan base because they're shunning their hero in favor of the unknown.
I'm not qualified to assess Aaron Rodgers's future as an NFL quarterback, but the sheer reality of the situation dictates that he's unlikely to even make it as a Pro Bowler, let alone be competent enough to fill Favre's shoes. The number of highly drafted quarterbacks who fail for one reason or another is enough to fill a legion; Rodgers is going to be under so much pressure simply because he's not Favre that every move he makes is going to be scrutinized and even if he's pretty good, that's not going to be acceptable to Packers fans who wanted Favre back; and it's made worse now because Favre wants to come back.
The mere idea of Favre being invited to camp as a backup is window dressing because an
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open competition would only hinder Rodgers's progress; not only would the fans be demanding that Favre start, but he'd deserve to start because he can still play. Rodgers is never going to be able to develop with Favre around; if he throws one interception or throws four incomplete passes in a row, there will be immediate calls for his "backup" to enter the game. Putting a guy under pressure in the interests of physical and mental development is one thing; putting a guy in an impossible situation is another.
The organization was trying to do the right thing for everyone by asking Favre for a decision, receiving the decision and moving forward; once Favre decided he wanted to come back, the Packers decision to continue to move forward is the honorable one, but that's not going to matter to rabid Packers fans who want to win right now with their hero. The last thing the Packers need on their plate in addition to the young quarterback is the vision of Favre in a Vikings or Bears uniform and have it thrown in their face with every game he plays and wins if Rodgers struggles as young quarterbacks do. At this point, the organization can't let Favre back into the fold and they can't release him. The only thing they can do is trade him out of the division and that----even with all the protests and threats the fans issue----is probably the best course of action and their only realistic choice barring an unlikely reconciliation that would probably create an even bigger media circus than what's being played out right now.
  • From Brett Favre's point-of-view:
The man can still play. That's the worst part of being painted into a corner of having to come to a decision by a certain date. Favre is saying that he was pretty sure he wanted to
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come back, but wasn't going to tell the Packers he was going to come back if he wasn't 100% sure. Now that the time to report to camp and get ready for the season has rolled around, Favre is 100% sure, but the Packers have moved on. He has every right to: tell them he wants to come back; ask for his release; go to the media to get his point across. Brett Favre has no obligation to make things easier for his understudy Aaron Rodgers; if he wants to play, he has earned the chance to play. It's not as if he's just hanging on and is unable to move as many veteran quarterbacks who held on too long were. That's the problem: he's still one of the top quarterbacks in the league. Add in that he's a legend in a football-crazy town and he's in a solid position to be able to dictate what he wants with impunity.
Unless he comes back and falls flat on his face (with the Packers or elsewhere)----which is highly unlikely----Favre's going to win. If he returns to Green Bay as a backup, he'll be playing by the third week; if he goes to a team like the Buccaneers, he'll be in a situation to make the Packers look foolish with another big season as Rodgers finds his way and is abused by the fans simply because he's not Favre. But Favre's reputation as an old-school veteran who plays for the love of the game is taking a beating over the past few years because of his propensity to throw his weight around as the centerpiece of the team.
Like a child who throws a tantrum until he gets his way, Favre has jettisoned players, coaches and whoever else with an omnipotence that not even Vince Lombardi had. There was
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always the threat of retirement if he wasn't surrounded by teammates he deemed acceptable to his taste; always that idea that he was more important than the team and his judgment was above that of others who were supposed to be running the team. That arrogance likely spurred Favre to his greatness, but it also has cost him with his high interception totals and the emerging disaster now as he and the Packers head for an ugly parting of the ways. There's always been this idea in Favre's head that "I can throw the ball into triple coverage and hit my receiver"; "I can decide which plays to run best fitting me rather than the best way to attack the defense"; and it's cost him and his team in playoff games and Super Bowls. Now he's again trying to exert his authority over the Packers and as the Packers have finally said enough's enough, for better or likely worse, he's throwing another tantrum.
No matter how believable Favre is in his interviews; no matter how his tone and demeanor indicate that of the sandlot guy who'd be just as happy playing in a dirt field for no money with no spectators, he's become addicted to the rush of being the center of everyone's attention. He has every right to ask the Packers for his release to go somewhere else to play, but he also has to remember that he's basically run the organization for the past fifteen years and eventually they were going to say that's it. Now that they have, he's putting them into a terrible position and this public relations offensive complete with dueling contretemps and contradictions of one another. His power trip, while real and in many ways legitimate, is going to create an explosion that is going to bloody not only the Packers organization, but the legacy of Brett Favre; but it doesn't appear that he cares as long as he gets his way and my guess is that he will get his way, one way or the other.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

I like that showed both sides of the story. I think he should stay retired if you agree join this campaign to send golf balls to Favre: https://www.thepoint.com/campaigns/stay-retired-brett-favre

If you think he should stay a Packer then lets Thompson cheese if he isn't the starter: https://www.thepoint.com/campaigns/bring-back-brett-favre