The headline might have gotten lost in the shuffle, but it didn’t get past a lot of sports fans in Wisconsin. That’s because it set a lot of alarms off in my head. I’m sure that I’m not the only one.
The Jets, who made a splash last year when they acquired Brett Favre from the Green Bay Packers and who just drafted their future when they moved up in the draft to select Southern Cal quarterback Mark Sanchez, released the future Hall of Famer. That means that if the thirty-nine year old quarterback decides he wants to play again, he can go to any team he wants.
Now, Favre made sure to issue a statement that downplayed the release. “Nothing has changed,” Favre said . “At this time, I am retired and have no intention of returning to football.”
The alarm bells started ringing even louder.
Then there was the denial issued by Favre agent James ‘Bus Cook. Cook also indicated that Fare wants to retire as a Packer (even though that will probably not happen as long as GM Ted Thompson is in charge).
Those bells I mentioned a minute ago? They’re going off like crazy as we speak.
You have to understand what Packer Nation went through last year during Favre-gate. You have to understand it was a fan base divided. You have to understand that the media chose one side (the Packers side) while the fans chose the other (the player). How did it all start?
With rumor and speculation.
Favre retired in a tear filled news conference in March of last year. It wasn’t too long before reports started circulating that Favre was getting the itch to play again. At first, the media downplayed the speculation, especially here in Wisconsin. But we all know how it played out.
Favre did, indeed, want to play again. There was a he said-he said battle that raged throughout the summer. There were accusations of tampering leveled against Green Bay’s division rival – the Minnesota Vikings. There was Favre’s circus like arrival and departure at Packers training camp.
Then there was the trade and constant comparisons with his successor, Aaron Rodgers. For a while it looked like Favre was going to go out with a final playoff appearance, but injuries and age conspired against him. Finally, after his New York teammates took some shots at him in the media, there was a conference call to announce he was retired again.
This time, the prevailing thought was, there would be no comeback. This time the legendary gunslinger was done for good. And then came the news of his release.
Now the speculation has started again (thanks in part to ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic). Is Favre over the shoulder problem that plagued him late last season? Does he want to play again? And if he does, was he trying to manipulate the process so he could play for the Vikings – the team he wanted to go to last season before the Jets made the move to get him? (The Packers put a poison pill in the trade which is now no longer applicable since he announced his retirement earlier this off-season.)
I think there might be some legs to the speculation. The obstacles that were put in front of Favre as he tried to get to Minnesota last year have been removed (and let’s face it, the Vikings would welcome him given their current quarterbacks are Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels). There was the non-denial denial that Favre issued. Favre didn’t rule it out completely. He just said he’s retired “at this time.”
Favre is also a warrior, and a proud one at that. I am positive last season left him with a bitter taste in his mouth. He didn’t go out with a playoff appearance. He went out with a whimper. He left a locker room that had turned against him (somewhat). He left a city whose media didn’t give him the pass he was afforded in Wisconsin.
It’s conceivable that he wants one… more (final?).. shot at glory. And it might very well be with the Vikings, who (presumably) would view him as the final piece to a championship puzzle.
I hope I’m wrong about this. I really do. Brett needs to stay retired.
For the first time in his career, there’s a question (and a valid one) as to whether or not Favre can do it physically. Favre ended last season with a shoulder that was hurt. Will it be able to stand up to the rigors of a sixteen game season?
Favre – if he returns – would have a lot to prove, especially to the fifty-two other players he would be sharing the locker room with. He would not get the pass from his peers that he used to, especially if he doesn’t make a connection with his new teammates (there were rumblings that he was a lone wolf in that locker room last season).
And then, there’s the question of his legacy. If he stays retired, then there’s no problem. If he comes back he runs the risk of being looked at as a guy who didn’t know when to quit. The NFL sends a clear message to players it thinks are done. Those signals started to be transmitted towards Favre last season.
Again, I know it’s only speculation at this point. But I’ve seen this movie before. I hope I’m not about to see it again.