Monday, July 14, 2008

Packers need to move on

I knew Brett Favre wasn’t going to stay retired. I wrote that on this blog back in March. This is a guy who has played through injury, illness and personal loss. I don’t know if that makes him a great man or a selfish child but there’s no question about what it means on the football field. He’s a warrior.

A few years ago the Green Bay Packers were at fault, they were more concerned with building for the future than winning with Favre. I believe Favre wanted out so he could play for a Super Bowl contender. The Packers weren’t at that level so he was seriously considering calling it quits. The Packers wouldn’t give him an out, and Favre didn’t want to anger his fans. If you read between the lines of his recent retirement speech it was clear that Favre was “tired” and the only way he’d entertain playing another season was if he was virtually guaranteed a shot at winning a Super Bowl. In short, Favre wants a ring handed to him.

Well, Brett, you had your chance last year. The Green Bay Packers got everything they wanted when the New York Giants upset the Dallas Cowboys to shift the NFC Championship game to the frozen tundra. The Giants were plucky but playing in Green Bay during the month of January was bad news, everybody believed the Packers were going to win.

And they should have, but the Giants played hard and had a chance to win the game with a 36 yard field goal at the end of the fourth quarter. So at the end of regulation it was tied, with momentum clearly on the side of Green Bay. The Packers won the all important toss heading into overtime and with Brett Favre playing on his home turf a third Super Bowl appearance seemed a given. At least until Favre threw an interception in his own end on the second play of the overtime period. The Giants returned the pick to field goal range, ran a few plays to center the kick and won the NFC Championship game. Then they went on to upset the Patriots and forever sully the only 16-0 record in NFL history.

Everybody keeps talking about how great Favre is but ever since his first Super Bowl appearance way back in mid 1990s he’s been a sketchy post season performer. Part of the problem has been a lack of talent around him, but the problems go beyond dropped passes and poor second efforts. Favre has been lackluster when it counts the most. He’s hurt the Packers with erratic play. Favre likes his “gunslinger” reputation even though his lousy passes and reckless decision making have lost more close games than they’ve won.

Now he’s hurting the Packers again. This time he’s at fault. Favre retired back in March and insisted that he was done. He stated over and over and over again that he was not going to change his mind and come back. So the Packers moved on. They threw everything behind Aaron Rodgers and committed the entire organization to starting the post-Favre era. Now Favre’s trying to come back.

There’s no question that Favre has every right to come back, but rather than play this cat and mouse game with the Packers he needs to assert himself and jump back in with both feet. He needs to be upfront about his intentions. If he wants to be released he needs to demand it. It’s not fair for Favre to put one foot in the water and expect the Packers to turn the ship around to pick him up.

A lot of people are on Favre’s side, they can’t figure out why the Packers seem reticent to bring him back as the starter. I don’t understand it. Favre’s becoming quite the high maintenance princess and his most recent performance really left a lot to be desired. Yeah, the Packers got to the NFC title game but Favre completed only 19 of 35 passes and threw two interceptions, one of them directly resulted in the Giants winning the game.

It’s clear that Brett Favre believes he is bigger than the Packers. If the Packers pass on Favre he could indeed come back to haunt them by playing with the Bears or the Vikings and the fans would be livid, but after all is said and done such a move would say a lot more about Brett Favre’s selfishness that it does about the ineptitude of the Packers’ front office. Favre’s best years are long behind him. It’s hard to say what’s older, Favre or his pay-attention-to-me act. The more this drama plays out the more I’m convinced that the Packers should have given up on Favre long ago.

No comments: