Monday, July 14, 2008

A Solution to the Whole Brett Favre Mess

Ok, so like everyone in the first, second or third world knew would happen, Brett Favre has come back and started a melodrama worthy of a Daytime Emmy. In what wasn't apparently known at the time, Favre reached out to the Packers in March after his retirement news conference and said he was having second thoughts; at the time, the Packers told him they would take him back. But, before a meeting between Favre and Packers GM Ted Thompson could take place, Favre cancelled the meeting and said he was staying retired. The Packers then moved on with the preparation of Aaron Rodgers. (Check out a good timeline of all this here.)

Favre then had another change of heart, and sometime after a meeting with Packers offensive line coach James Campen, he tried to text message with Thompson and was given a textual bitch-slap as a result. Then came the infamous conference call last Tuesday where Thompson and Packers coach Mike McCarthy did their best Eskimo impressions. As a result, Favre, through his agent Jerome Bettis James "Bus" Cook, submitted a request that the Packers simply release him, thus allowing him the freedom to play for any NFL team, including either the Minnesota Vikings or the Chicago Bears. Thompson's response? Why, to call Favre's bluff, of course, and refuse to release Favre and instead invite him to return. Some reports even insinuated that the Packers essentially told Favre that he could come back, but that he might be wearing a hat and holding a clipboard while he watched Aaron Rodgers play quarterback.

So, where does that leave us? I think that this puts Favre in the driver's seat. He's up against a GM that is seemingly desperate to make his mark in Green Bay, legendary quarterback be damned. For those of you who may have forgotten, Rodgers was the first player drafted by Thompson back in 2005, and he wants to make good on his first pick. He's probably betting that Favre will fold, not wanting to return in a backup role. But, Thompson's reasoning is flawed on so many levels:

1) There's just no way the Packers could allow Favre to come back and then have him patrol the sidelines during the games. No way. The ensuing PR fiasco would sink the season.

2) Even if they did go with the nuclear option, how do you think the fans would react after Rodgers went, say, 8-for-21 with three picks in week one's game against the Vikings? It wouldn't be pretty, that's for sure.

3) The Packers best chance to win a Super Bowl right now is with Favre. No one can possibly argue with that. They won their division last year and were a few plays away from playing in the Super Bowl. Why not take Favre back and make one more run?

The problem this situation has caused can be blamed both on Favre and Thompson. Favre retired, changed his mind, had the green light from the Packers and then decided to stay retired back in April. Thompson, however, still should have known that given the nature of "living legend" retirees, Favre would probably "get the itch" and again want to return. Instead of accepting that fact and dealing with it amicably, Thompson has instead created a situation that is akin to a Mexican standoff. Thompson's problem is that the fans (at least some of them), are on Favre's side.

In my opinion, there is a way out. Favre has three years and $39M left on his contract. Why not reach out to Favre and welcome him back on the condition that he restructure his contract into a one year deal with a player option for 2009? If it IS possible, that would bring Favre back for one year, give the Packers a date certain for Favre's decision on playing in 2009, and put everything out on the table. Next year, there'd be no melodrama as Favre would have to make his decision on playing if he wanted to keep playing for the Packers. While this would give Favre the option of opting out and signing with another team, the chances of him wanting to play another season go down each year he plays. The Packers could fix their current situation and just bank on the fact that Favre wouldn't want to start over with another team so late in his career if he opted out.

In the meantime, we're left wondering who's going to blink first in this inane game of chicken.

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