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In Sports

Favre saga is tiresome, but legitimate


If you were one of the unfortunate few that actually tuned it to news radio Saturday morning at 7:30 -- then waited until the delayed press conference began around 8:30 - only to hear Brett Favre say "no change" in response to a question about his possible retirement, I'm guessing your immediate reaction was something like mine: "Just retire already!" ... even if you didn't really mean it.

It's been a frustrating couple months for the Packers, their fans and even Favre himself. The "will he or won't he?" saga is definitely growing old, but if you think about it for a minute, a deliberate, lengthy process makes sense for both sides. And as Favre said Saturday, it's baseball season now -- so we should all just relax and focus on the first-place (for now, at least) Brewers.

Why does it make sense? Let's look at the perspectives of the two primary parties, which doesn't include the fans: the Packers (represented by Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy) and Favre.

If you're the Packers, it's only natural that you'd like to know the status of your longtime starting quarterback. But at the same time, Thompson and McCarthy can't devote too much time or energy to luring Favre back into the fold, no matter what the man's history in Green and Gold represents.

Favre has made it plain that he wants to play for a winner, and Thompson's goal is to build one. So Thompson should assemble the best team possible to surround his best quarterback in 2006; simple, right? Not necessarily.

Thompson isn't an idiot. He knows that even if he makes some splashy personnel moves to woo Favre back to Green Bay for 2006, he'll have him around for one season, tops. Thompson also knows he has a ton of holes to fill on both sides of the ball, and he would prefer to fill those holes via the draft. So he is attempting to make some modest moves in free agency, draft a difference maker or two and then assess the remaining veteran free agent crop closer to training camp.

Since Thompson's job is to get Green Bay back to the Super Bowl, Favre's return isn't his main concern. It's certainly not lost on him that Favre threw 29 interceptions last year. Good personnel or bad, that's a terrible number. Is Favre good enough to take a generally bad team to the playoffs, much less the Super Bowl? Probably not.

Thompson also has a first-round draft pick waiting in the wings to relieve Favre should he decide to retire. Since the Packers are rebuilding anyway, wouldn't it be to Thompson's advantage to get Aaron Rodgers some playing time this year? Otherwise, Favre holds the bag for another the year, the team wins a few more games and wholesale rebuilding is delayed until '07.

I'm not suggesting Thompson -- or McCarthy, who reportedly has a better relationship with Favre than his boss does -- wants Favre to quit. For reasons both on and off the field, he'd prefer to have Favre back for one final year. But I am suggesting that Favre's retirement in the next month won't break his heart. In fact, it's probably Thompson's cleanest option.

Meanwhile, Favre has gone from media darling to selfish, pouting superstar in a matter of months. I've heard or read more negative comments about Favre in the last six weeks than I had in the previous 13 years. "Make up your mind already!" or "Think of the team first!" are a couple common refrains.

Sure, this has been a frustrating process for fans to go through, and the continual media coverage of every minor detail and rumor is annoying. But is Favre really that out of line?

First of all, I have no problem at all with Favre basing his decision, partially or entirely, on the personnel moves the Packers make this offseason. Why should he come back to play for another losing team? At his age and with his accomplishments, he should have the option to go out in the manner he chooses. Right now, he's in one piece -- he may not be after another 4-12 campaign behind a shoddy offensive line.

And what does Favre "owe" the Packers, exactly? We're talking about a guy who played the game of his life the day after his father unexpectedly died; I don't remember people calling him selfish then -- I remember them deifying him. Plus, he hasn't missed a game in his entire career! Does that sound like a selfish teammate?

Sure, Mark Chmura -- that paragon of selflessness and good decision-making -- might have some bad things to say about Favre, and some of the personal stuff may be true. But whether or not Favre called Chewy to offer support during his trial has nothing to do with this. Favre wants to make the right decision for himself, just like you or I would if we were an aging, formerly great quarterback. Not to mention a tired one.

Personally, I'd prefer Favre deliberate until July rather than backing out of a hasty decision he made right after the season. Say what you want about the process, but it's a hell of a lot better than Michael Jordan's multiple retirements or Roger Clemens holding out for the highest bidder -- and the right not to make unpleasant road trips.

Is the process getting a little old? Absolutely. Do I think Favre should simply fish or cut bait? Yes, I do. But Favre has earned the right to be annoying in this context, just as Thompson has the right to build the franchise however he sees fit.

Talkbacks

OMCreader | April 19, 2006 at 9:27 a.m. (report)

Dave Marks said: Favre definitely wants to play 2 more years for a team that has a shot at winning. He doesn't want to play for anyone but the Pack, but frankly they are forcing him to come back with no apparent effort to do a fast rebuild, retire or go play somewhere else. Brett is reluctant to make a move but in a state of shock that the team is pretty much letting him twist in the wind. Hence the indecision.....suck it up and look old, aging and a shadow of self, retire and ride off into the sunset or go to a team that wants to take a shot at it all right now (I have no idea or suggestions as to where that might be). Hate to see him go the other team route - it just never seems to work when an icon leaves "his team" towards the end of career for another - think Namath and Montana. Best bet - retire and let Thompson deal with the backlash.

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OMCreader | April 15, 2006 at 9:07 a.m. (report)

Funki said: It's becoming clear that we loved Favre for his arm, not his brain or anything else. Listening to him mumble his Favre-isms during interviews over the years has been less than enlightening. Stuff like... "You know you try to win every game" said with this deer in the head lights look on his face all the time.

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OMCreader | April 12, 2006 at 9:46 a.m. (report)

SALLY DISANTO said: BRETT DESERVES THE TIME TO MAKE A DECISION. HE ISN'T PLAYING GAMES JUST WANTS TO MAKE SURE THAT IF HE PLAYS, THERE WILL BE HELP TO ACHIEVE A WIN.

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OMCreader | April 12, 2006 at 8:01 a.m. (report)

Harold said: Tim-your first paragraph is hillarious for it's inaccuracy. Why don't you report that the press conference was one Brett holds EVERY YEAR for his charity event. So now we are criticizing Favre for simply answering the constant questions from the media? Wake up people, this is an example of the media creating a story, not Brett constantly wavering. Here's a hint, if your tired of it-stop constantly asking him every time he appears in public for charity fundraisers, etc...

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OMCreader | April 11, 2006 at 7:50 p.m. (report)

Bill said: Finally somebody has put in context that makes sense and is logical. Let us not forget what Brett Favre has done for the Packers.

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