By Gregg Hoffmann Special to Published Sep 15, 2005 at 5:18 AM

{image1}The Packers' opener provided a glimpse of what fans and quarterback Brett Favre are going to have to endure this season. Favre should have saved himself the grief and retired after last season.

Story lines the day after the Lions' 17-3 win over the Packers were about Detroit's stellar defense, but if you watched the game you know that it was as much or more about the inept Green Bay offense.

The Packers committed so many penalties and missed so many blocking assignments that they could not get any flow to their offense. It was slightly better, but still not great on defense.

A truly good football team would have beaten them, 50-3. The Lions, who at best are mediocre, could only manage 17 points.

At the center of all of this was Favre, fighting on, shouting at teammates to line up in the 2-minute drill, still gun slinging to the bitter end. We've all loved that about Brett. It has been downright heroic.

But, before the end of this season, it could look downright foolish. Favre is an old school star playing with boys. Most of his teammates either don't have the talent or experience to be winners, or just don't come close to sharing his drive and passion for the game.

His line is patchwork. His receivers are talented, but erratic. Plus, the best of them, Javon Walker, will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.

With this supporting cast, the inevitable effects of age will become more apparent in Favre. You could already see some of them last Sunday.

This writer is not the only one who thinks this way. Note some comments by former NFL Hall of Fame quarterback and current TV analyst Steve Young: "Brett is going to have a huge burden to try and lift the rest of the team. I think that burden is too much. I think for the first time in the last six or seven years, I think the burden actually will pull him backwards, maybe into the abyss."

Michael Irvin, who when he isn't screeching about something adds analysis to Young's comments, said: "I truly believe Green Bay knows Brett is in trouble. To help him they said, 'Let's get you a personal trainer.' Because we know with that defense, there are going to be some shootouts and you are going to have to do some running around. Look for Brett to take a lot of hits this season. That great streak (consecutive games), with all that running around, with that defense they have, that great streak may come to an end."

Favre didn't want to end his career last year with a bad game, after a season full of personal concerns. But now he's with a team that will be lucky to make the 8-8 prediction made by this writer last week.

Let's hope the Packers can show some improvement this Sunday in their home opener against the Cleveland Browns. If not, let's hope Favre can survive.

Brewers' Player of the Week

Rookie J.J. Hardy deserves the honor this week. Hardy has led all NL hitters in the past couple weeks and has continued to play well in the field.

After looking like he could be sent back to the minors earlier in the season, Hardy has given every indication in recent weeks he could be the Brewers' starting shortstop for a long time.

With Hardy at short, Bill Hall at third base, Rickie Weeks at second and Prince Fielder probably taking over for Lyle Overbay at first, the Brewers will have a young infield that could grow into the best the club has had since the days of Paul Molitor at third base, Robin Yount at short, Jim Gantner at second and Cecil Cooper at first.

By the way, the latter infield was called the Million Dollar Infield. Today, that might get you Hardy...before arbitration.

Hot Tix

The Packers' game starts at 3:15 p.m. Sunday, and it's on CBS. The Browns were 27-13 losers to the Bengals in the season opener and should be beatable at Lambeau. If not, fans and Favre might be in for an even longer season than stated in the opening section of this column.

No ticket needed for the city's biggest sporting event, Saturday's Milwaukee River Challenge in downtown Milwaukee. It's one of the biggest early season collegiate races in the country, and organizers are expecting thousands of spectators to line the Milwaukee Riverwalk. Looking for great viewing? Start your River Challenge day at Pere Marquette Park. The UW women's crew team will head the participants on Saturday. Races begin at 11 a.m.

UW, fresh off two explosive offensive performances, is in Chapel Hill to play North Carolina this Saturday at 6 p.m. The best small college matchup in the state has Whitewater playing at Lakeland on Saturday.

In the NAFL, the Marauders travel to Belvidere, Ill., Saturday to play the Roscoe Rush. The Racine Raiders host the Kane County Eagles at Horlick Field. Kickoff for both games is at 7 p.m.

The Bombers Aussie Rules Football team will hold an intra-squad scrimmage Saturday in preparation for the USAFL Championship tournament, which will be held in Milwaukee on Sept.30 through Oct. 2.

The Brewers continue their quest to finish .500 or better with a weekend series in Houston that starts Friday. They first wrap up the series in Arizona Thursday.

After the weekend, the Brewers return home for a 10-game homestand that will end their home season. It includes a three-game series with the Cubs, Sept. 20-22. The Brewers and Cubs are fighting it out for third place in the NL Central.

Gregg Hoffmann Special to
Gregg Hoffmann is a veteran journalist, author and publisher of Midwest Diamond Report and Old School Collectibles Web sites. Hoffmann, a retired senior lecturer in journalism at UWM, writes The State Sports Buzz and Beyond Milwaukee on a monthly basis for OMC.