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Packers fans are divided over what the team should do with Brett Favre.

Favre soap opera creates divide in Packers Nation


GREEN BAY -- With all due respect to Buzz Bissinger and his well-known hatred of the sports blogosphere, when I saw what Deadspin.com had done with its link to one of my Wisconsin State Journal stories earlier in the week, I couldn't help but laugh.

"Alright, Brett Favre Might Be Kind Of A (Expletive)," the headline said. (Sorry, this is a family Web site. You'll have to go there yourself to find out that the word they chose is a nickname for "Richard.")

It didn't shock me, because I'd been noticing a trend in my inbox and on the radio in the last few weeks: More and more fans suffering from Favre Fatigue, siding with the team over the quarterback.

So, now that Favre's three-part softball-a-thon with Greta Van Susteren -- seriously, who served up better hanging curveballs this week, Greta or that 71-year-old American Legion coach pitching to Josh Hamilton in the Home Run Derby? -- is finally over, I couldn't help but wonder: How do you feel about him?

From Favre's nationally televised liar-liar, pants-on-fire rip-job of general manager Ted Thompson; to the Packers' tampering allegations against their rivals, the "Minneapolis" Vikings (thanks, Greta!); to Favre showing up at the ESPY awards (is there a more contrived, bogus awards show on the planet?) in an out-of-character black suit instead of Wranglers and flip-flops -- the story has taken a few strange and ugly turns, and it's hard to imagine how the two sides will ever get over it, regardless of where Favre ends up in 2008.

It's incredible just how divided Packers Nation has become. Based on e-mails and a sports-talk radio sampling, there are three clear groups: Favre lovers who still think their favorite quarterback can do no wrong, reasonable people who effectively argue that Favre still gives the Packers the best chance to win this season and Favre-fatigued Packers fans who've finally maxed out on his annual hemming and hawing about playing.

We're not here to judge, although after all that's happened, that first group -- some of whom could absolve Favre of blame for all 316 interceptions he's thrown (including playoffs) in his career -- might have a slight credibility problem.

But here are a couple thoughts to chew on:

At any point during his chat with Van Susteren, did you ever hear Favre say anything remotely about the team and its potential?

No. It was all about him.

He said in passing at one point that he liked his teammates and had fun with them, but he should've said,

"I want to come back because I know we can win it all this year. We were 13-3 last year, made it to the NFC Championship Game with the youngest team in the league, and we'd have been in the Super Bowl if not for my overtime interception against the Giants. We've got a great team, and I want to be a part of it."

Second, it's too late now, but public opinion would be completely on his side had he come out and said, "I love playing in Green Bay, I love that franchise, I love the fans, and I don't want to go anywhere else. If the Packers only want me back as a backup, then that's what I'll do. I'll be the backup, I'll be third-string, heck, I'll play tight end if they want me to.

"Sure, I want to play -- every backup does -- but what we have in Green Bay is special. We've got a great team, and I want to be a part of it, no matter what my role. I'll support Aaron Rodgers, give him any advice I can, and I'll prepare so I'm ready if needed."

Had he just said this -- rather than trashing Thompson and throwing both Rodgers and Favre's pal, offensive line coach James Campen, under the bus -- he would've been a sympathetic figure who was, despite incredibly unfair treatment, doing the right thing because he's that great of a guy.

It's hard to figure out whether anyone in Mississippi is giving Favre any public-relations advice. From here, it sure looks like he's surrounded by a bunch of enablers who keep telling him how great he is and how unjust and disrespectful the Packers' treatment of him has been -- rather than warning him that he might be eroding some of his fan base with his words and actions.

As for Thompson, while Favre's beef that Thompson wasn't forthcoming with him about his decisions -- not signing Randy Moss, not re-signing guards Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle, not interviewing Steve Mariucci for the head-coaching job -- might be valid, let's not forget that Rivera's body broke down as soon as he got to Dallas, Wahle had one good year in Carolina and is now in Seattle, and no one, including New England or Favre for that matter, knew Moss was going to have the monster year he had last year.

And his complaint about hiring Mike McCarthy without interviewing Mariucci, Favre's buddy and ex-quarterbacks coach? Explain this: Favre throws 29 interceptions in a 4-12 season in 2005 because his head coach, Mike Sherman, didn't crack down on him for his decision-making and risk-taking. And then Favre wants his best friend in the coaching world to get an interview? So, he can keep doing what he wants? Where's the credit McCarthy deserves for reining Favre in and helping him produce the renaissance season he had last year?

Sure, Favre's point probably was that he felt Thompson hadn't been fully truthful with him about not wanting to hire Mariucci, but is it really Favre's right to expect the GM to interview a candidate of his choosing?

The tampering charges Wednesday were simply the capper. The Vikings released a statement Thursday, saying, "We are not commenting on the issue. These types of matters are handled by the league."

But the guess here is that the Packers' accusations against the Vikings are less about sticking it to their rivals and more about sending the following message to Favre and Cook: We've told you we're not releasing you, we know you want to play in Minnesota, and hell will freeze over before we let that happen.

And that, as opposed to a softball, is a fastball high and tight.


Talkbacks

davidm | July 21, 2008 at 1:19 a.m. (report)

This is one of the best things I've seen/heard about this issue. Favre can play here if he wants to. He'll look good just standing with the clipboard all year. I'd rather see him on the field. I think if HE does the right thing and reports to camp, he'll likely start sooner or later. If he doesn't start, it means we're having a good year and Rodgers really is the real thing. He has to come here if that's what he really wants to do. I want him to keep playing here. If he wants to play here he needs to show up for camp. I'm beginning to wonder if that is what he wants.

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LegallyBlonde | July 20, 2008 at 11:27 a.m. (report)

Favre, you're better, we want you to play, so show up and play. Go Pack.

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