Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My Take on the Favre Situation

This has been a rough week for me in the sports department. My favorite racecar driver, Bryan Herta, was let go by Andretti-Green Racing for absolutely no reason. Now we've got this mess involving my favorite athlete of all-time and the team that I love.

First off, I want to say how great it was to see the firing of Bryan Herta blow up in Michael Andretti's face this week. Since his replacement, Marco Andretti, couldn't practice due to his IRL commitments, the AGR car had to start at the tail-end of the field and was quickly lapped. Even though they were one of the fastest cars on the track, they could never make the lap back up and, after some more of the bad luck that plagued Herta this year, they ended up 3 laps down. They ended up 5th in class, but it would've been closer to an absolutely brutal 10th place finish without severe attrition amongst the other cars. Then Marco flew down to Nashville for the IRL race on the same day and promptly stuffed his car into the wall on lap 1. Absolutely hilarious. Not that I'm bitter.

As for Favre, indecision must be contagious because I've flip-flopped twice today.

It's pretty clear whose side I'm on based on my posts throughout the interwebs. I've worn a Brett Favre jersey the past four days (I have several) and I'm not planning on stopping anytime soon. I don't think he's done anything wrong by changing his mind (I'll get to that) and I think the Packers are absolutely insane for not taking him back.

Then I read some quotes in the lead up to the Fox News interview about Favre saying he didn't want to be traded because it would "cede control to the Packers" and that he "wouldn't come to Green Bay to backup Aaron Rodgers" and I started to think he was being very unreasonable; That realistically there was no way GB would release him and so he better get used to the idea that they'd trade him--and would likely let him have input into his new location.

Now, having read the transcript of the interview tonight (the situation just makes me sad, and we watch "Saving Grace" anyway, so I figured I didn't need to see it live) I'm back on Brett's side:

I fully believe that the Packers pressured him into making a decision in March and that he did the responsible thing and retired. If he wasn't 100% committed to coming back at that point, there was no way he could tell them he was returning. If he announced he was coming back and then retired at this point (rather than vice-versa), he would've completely screwed the team over. At this point, they're in an uncomfortable situation, but the option is either having Favre-Rodgers-Brohm or Rodgers-Brohm-Flynn on the QB depth-chart. Neither option is bad. If Favre announces a comeback and then goes Barry Sanders on us, our QB depth chart looks like this: Aaron Rodgers. Perhaps Rodgers-Flynn.

If Favre was, in fact, told that playing in Green Bay wasn't an option and yet they couldn't envision him playing for another team, the Packers are being even more unreasonable than Favre was when he asked for his outright release. The team should not have any control over a player's desire to continue his career. If they really wanted to, they would have the right to say "You can come back, but we aren't moving you. You'll stay on our team as the backup QB, and that's that." It would be a low move to pull against a player that has done so much for the organization, but if they really wanted to that's their right as he signed the contract. But you can't say "You can't play here AND we're not moving you." That's crap.

If Mike McCarthy did in fact tell Favre that they would have let him wait until training camp to announce his intentions, then the only thing that has changed between what would have happened and what is happening now is that the team has believed for three months that Aaron Rodgers would be the starting QB. They would have had to approach the draft and free agency as if Favre wasn't coming back. They would have gone through the OTAs under the assumption that Favre wasn't coming back. They would have added some Aaron Rodgers plays to the playbook in case he became the starter. It's absolute BS that they won't take Favre back if it's true that they were willing to wait until training camp for him to make up his mind, and just didn't inform him of that.

I love Brett Favre. People can talk about how "He wasn't the only reason the Packers were good" all they want to. That is true. Without his line, without Reggie, without Holmgren, maybe they don't accomplish everything they accomplished. He didn't win the Super Bowl by himself. But he did provide some of the greatest sports memories that I have; Memories that I will cherish my entire life. I've got DVD after DVD filled with all of our wins from the last 2 years along with some of the classics over the years that I've been able to find. I even have a couple from that dreadful 4-12 year. The reason I have them is simply so that once Brett Favre is gone, I'll be able to go back and watch him play again.

I know the Packers were around for years before Favre came and they'll be around long after he's gone. But for me, it's never going to be the same. I'll still love this team. I'll still cheer my head off for them. I'll still go to games and cherish the moment when I do. But I can pretty much guarantee that I'll never have as much fun watching football as I have had watching Brett Favre. Maybe I'm just an over-sentimental fuddy-duddy, but I want another chance to see him in the green and gold. I'm not ready for this era to end. If we were 7-9 last year I could understand wanting to move on, but we were 13-3 and 1 play from the Super Bowl. Favre had one of the best seasons of his career. Why are we so anxious to see the quarterback of the future, when the quarterback of the past and present still wants to play and is one of the top 3-5 QBs in the league?

I do understand why the Packers would be inclined to move on after Favre flip-flopped in March. What I don't understand is, if they were in fact willing to let him wait until training camp to decide, what has changed? Why not, at the point of the flip-flop, tell him, "Brett, take some more time, and talk to us again when camp gets here"? It's now training camp. The man wants to play. Sure Rodgers would be disappointed, but he's smart enough to know that Favre is a special player and taking Favre back isn't saying anything negative about Rodgers.

I'm sure Favre knows how this is making him look. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel had a poll and only like 47% of the fans want to see him back as the QB at this point. That would have been unfathomable in January. He's coming across looking really bad (though I think he helped himself in a big way tonight), but is it not understandable that they forced him into a decision, he did the responsible thing, and he now wishes he had made the other choice? He's having to swallow an unbelievable amount of pride to come out of retirement after that press conference he had. But the man wants to play. And I don't see how anyone can fault him for that.

I'm sick of seeing the fans turn on him for not doing anything wrong. Could he have handled things better? Sure. He should have spoken well before tonight and not allowed his family, friends, and text messages say it all. Could the organization have handled it better? Absolutely. They could have started by being honest with him--either by having the balls to tell him in the first place that they wanted to move on, or by giving him the time he needed to make a decision he could live with. In the end, I'm inclined to believe what Favre is saying. GMs are notorious liars. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but I'd bet it's closer to Favre's version.

Two of the most cherished figures in the history of the Packers retired and then came back: Reggie White and Vince Lombardi. Were either of them selfish, unreasonable, or tarnishing their legacy? No. The hate that's been spewed for Favre is, to me, completely ridiculous. Yes, he's waffled and the will-he-or-won't-he game is tiresome at best and attention whoring at worst. But it's hard to blame a guy for wanting to play if he thinks he still can.

I'd hate to see him play for another team, but I understand his desire to come back. In the end, he's always been a Packer and he'll always be a Packer. He's the best thing that's happened to this organization since the late 60s and our fans would be wise to remember that.

Dammit I can't believe we're in this situation......I see clips of Favre throwing snowballs against Seattle, carrying Jennings over his shoulders, yelling "PUT ER IN THE OLD VISE" and running around like a mad-man after his TD pass to Rison, and it kills me that he wants to give us more moments like that, but the organization won't let him. Ted Thompson can say it breaks his heart when people don't like the organization, well, the idea of seeing Brett Favre in another jersey--or not being allowed to play for the Packers when he still wants to--completely breaks mine.

Aaron Rodgers might be a fine football player. But he's not Brett Favre and he never will be. I'll root for him; I hope he takes us to 14 Super Bowls and goes into the Hall of Fame. But I can't freaking believe we're not going to take Favre back so that his feelings won't get hurt. This is so stupid it makes me sick to my stomach.


Anonymous said...

This is a tough one, Tim.
I think both sides have created this mess, and are embarrassing themselves.
I know that there are a legion of Favre fans, including you and John Madden- and he is an incredible QB-but his tact was all wrong. He is acting like the spurned HS prom queen now. The Packers obviously want to move forward and should trade him instead of parading a ton of deceptions to the public. It's a tough business and apparently they want their cake and ice cream also. It's ethically wrong to not allow him to play elsewhere, but as long as he agreed to a contract, he is obligated to that. Management has all of the leverage, no matter what talk show Favre goes on next.
Obviously GB doesn't want this guy to come back and haunt them, so, like Barry Sanders, they would rather let him rot- either on the bench or at home- until the contract is up or he is traded. (Sanders really screwed the lions in that they didn't even have a chance to draft a RB for the next season.) The danger is, he will become a poison rather than the sterling leader he has always been.
My hope is, he comes to his senses and shuts his mouth, goes to camp and then wins back the job by default. His trade value would rise and GB could still maintain their place as a NFC power, and Favre can continue his career elsehere. I also hope that Favre's ego and his mouth are not trying to write checks his body can't deliver. That would be the ultimate tarnish on one of the greatest QB's in modern football history.

Packer487 said...

My hope is the same as yours. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Favre will have a sit-down with TT and MM this weekend while he's in Green Bay and they can figure out their differences and come to an arraignment to keep him as a Packer. Rodgers at least claims he'd be cool with it...

If Kobe Bryant and the Lakers could figure things out, I have no doubt that Favre and the Packers can kiss and make up--especially if Favre and Thompson are willing to check their egos at the door.

Anonymous said...

I have been a Packer fan since 1960 and have seen many things...but none as classless as Favre's narcistic, ego driven, "me..me..me" position. THE TEAM should always take precident, read LOMBARDI...would Vince have ever tolerated such self-serving position as Favre is taking?...when Jim Ringo thought he was more important than the team...he was gone in a matter of days...Bret, please retain what little class you have left...retire...leave with dignity...if this continues, even one day more...my memories of No. 4...will be of a selfish individual, who couldn't let go, even if it means hurting his team, his fans, and his legacy(?)...end the nightmare...you retired 3x...enough...begone...