The Brett Favre case took another twist this week when The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the Green Bay Packers have a record of calls Favre made to Minnesota Vikings coaches — because Favre was using a cell phone given him by the Packers and they got the bills!
Well, nobody ever accused Favre of being a Rhodes scholar.
The Montana saga in San Francisco, when he was traded to Kansas City at his request in 1993, is probably the closest to the Favre drama in Green Bay, but there are two significant differences: Montana had never said he wanted to retire; and Favre has more left in the tank.
The Packers wanted Favre to come back. For three straight offseasons, he put them through “will he, won’t he” offseason drama. The previous two years, he decided well before training camp that he wanted to return. This year, he announced his retirement in March, assured the Packers in June that he still intended to retire— and then changed his mind.
It’s not clear whether his phone calls to the Minnesota coaches came before or after he announced his decision to return, but either way, his behavior is reprehensible.
My sympathy is with the Packers. They’ve endured three straight offseasons of the drama queen. If they brought Favre back now, they’d be setting themselves up for still another offseason of turmoil. That drama has apparently eroded the fan support you would expect that Favre would have in Green Bay. An informal newspaper poll showed fans split down the middle on whether Favre should return.
The argument for bringing him back has been that he gave them a chance to get to the Super Bowl, which they almost did last season. But that’s always problematical, and Favre’s actions may well have destroyed his ability to be the leader who’s needed. Football is the ultimate team game, but Favre’s actions make it clear that it’s all me-me-me with him. I’ve been around football teams long enough to know that when his teammates lose confidence in him, a quarterback might as well quit.
The Packers also knew that. If they had brought Favre back as a starter, they might as well have traded Aaron Rodgers, who has been preparing for four months to be the team’s starting quarterback. It’s unlikely Rodgers will have a career like Favre’s, but he should be a solid NFL quarterback if he has the chance.
For him to have that chance, the Packers need to move Favre. They won’t release him, as he wants, to sign with the division rival Vikings, but, at the NFL’s urging, the Packers are calling teams to try to work out a trade.
<p>The most likely candidate is Tampa Bay. The Bucs’ coach, Jon Gruden, was an assistant with the Packers in the early ’90s, so he has some history with Favre. The offensive system Packers coach Mike McCarthy installed in Green Bay, a derivative of Bill Walsh’s system, forced Favre to play under control and made him a better quarterback. Gruden uses a similar system.
And then, in the offseason, it will be Tampa Bay which has to deal with Favre’s histrionics. In Green Bay, they’ll be saying their thanks.