If Brett Favre wants to play football again, my guess is that he’s going to get his wish. In the past week, a rumor has turned into an itch, then a notion. And Favre and his agent, “Bus” Cook, now seem firmly engaged in a high stakes staring match with GM Ted Thompson and the Green Bay Packers. Whatever the outcome may be, it’s certainly far from over at this point, and the deeper we get into this saga, the more realistic the chance of seeing Brett Favre with the Ravens seemingly becomes.
Since the news regarding Favre so far seems mostly based on speculation and posturing, it’s difficult to tell how this drama will unfold. For now it seems that two things, above all else are clear. The first is that Brett Favre still wants to play football, and the second is that the Packers are ready to move on, and hand over their offense to Aaron Rodgers. Beyond that little is certain about how we should expect this to play out.
In the past few days rumors have circulated that Favre has already teased the Packers twice before about returning since announcing his retirement, and both times the Packers were receptive to the idea, only to have Favre change his mind again and decide to stay retired. If that were true, than it’d be tough to blame the Packers for not wanting to fall for this again. If Favre’s desire is waning so much in the off-season, you could certainly begin to doubt his commitment over the course of a rough NFL campaign.
Now that the Packers seem committed to moving on, Favre has asked for his unconditional release and placed the Packers in a most precarious position. First of all, their dealing with the face of their franchise for more than a decade, a first ballot Hall-of-Famer, and probably the most wildly popular player in the history of Green Bay / Milwaukee sports. If Favre wants to come back and play for the Pack, most probably feel that he’s earned that right.
If the Packers aren’t willing to start Favre, than it’d be an indication that they feel Rodgers gives them the best chance at winning. That’s still a tough sell. It seems more likely that they’re tired of this song and dance and refuse to play into it anymore. Favre, it seems will never go into retirement quietly, and what’s more, he seems to enjoy being the center of attention and speculation. But the Packers refuse to grant him a release, seeming to indicate that they’re at least somewhat afraid that Favre could come back to haunt them this season.
If the Packers thought that Favre was done, than I’d suspect they’d be happy to see him go to the Vikings or Bears, which would seemingly be the most attractive and logical destinations for Favre. Instead the Pack have threatened to keep him around as the backup to Rodgers in an attempt to bluff him back into retirement.
Could the Packers really do this to Favre? You’d think that if the Commissioner’s office had an interest in things, that they’d prefer to see Favre on the field for as long as he feels like he’s got something in the tank. Plus, he’s still in the midst of football’s Iron Man streak. Would Favre come back simply to end the streak and hold a clipboard?
Now it seems that we’ll wait and see if Favre is willing to call their bluff. The Packers are playing hardball now and it’s tough to blame them. They certainly drafted Rodgers with visions of seeing what they had in him before he comes up for free agency; clearly the Pack weren’t expecting Favre to hold on even this long. Furthermore, by forcing the issue, Favre will be taking away the Packer’s best insurance policy. Surely they had visions, and Favre had them too based on his comments, of having Favre as their ace in the hole this season. They were expecting him to be home on his couch as an insurance policy, just incase they needed him. And lastly, clearly Green Bay wouldn’t have taken two QBs in this years draft if they believed that Favre were coming to camp.
With that said, if Favre does call their bluff, there’s no way Green Bay goes into the season with him as a backup. First if all the shadow would be impossible for Aaron Rodgers to deal with. The Packers play MIN, @DET, DAL and @TB in the first four weeks. If they were to start 1-3 or even 2-2 and lose a couple of close ones, the calls for Favre would be impossible to ignore in a small city like Green Bay. What do you think the stadium would sound like the first time they went into the fourth quarter down by 2 TDs at home? Clearly that’s not the best way to set Rodgers up for success.
The Pack would have roster issues too. It’s hard to imagine them carrying 4 QBs on the roster this season. Bringing back Favre, as a backup would mean having to put rookie Matt Flynn on the practice squad, and likely losing him to another team. That leaves the Packers little choice but to bring Favre back and allow him to work out a trade, if indeed he does call their bluff and force their hand.
If a trade is in the wind, you can bet that the Vikings and Bears would be out of the mix immediately. It’s tough to envision the Pack allowing either of those teams to get their hands on Favre. For the sake of being competitive, the Bucs and Panthers might be out as well. Both play Green Bay this season, and both could find themselves in the playoff picture with an addition like Favre. If you look to the AFC, the most logical destinations seem to be Baltimore, Miami, Buffalo and Kansas City.
Selling Favre on Baltimore might be easier than any of those other destinations, and would allow the Pack to put an end to this dilemma, and to get some compensation in return. Ideally, I think the Packers would prefer Favre stay retired, and be available to them exclusively incase something happened to Aaron Rodgers this season. But if the Packers are forced to deal him, the Ravens might be the most logical destination when looking at the priorities of both Favre and the Packers. The question is does Favre fit with the Ravens priorities right now too?