Saturday, July 19, 2008

Enough about Brett Fav-ruh

By Rick Morris

I always really liked and respected Brett Favre as a player. I said exactly that in this space when he retired. But enough already of him putting his needs above those of his team and of ESPN fanning this story in their usual hysterical manner.

On our FDH Lounge program, I questioned his decision to retire because of a few key points:

1. He only won one Super Bowl in his career and clearly hungered for a second one.
2. He suffered through several down years in Green Bay only to see the team make an unexpected huge leap forward in 2007, one that almost landed him back in the Super Bowl. Clearly he now had the support he needed around him again.
3. He threw a poor interception at the end of the NFC Championship Game, a game at home in which his team was solidly favored, guaranteeing that his career would end on a sour note if he walked away then.
4. He could still play the game on a Pro Bowl level.

But he did retire. And now his "to be or not to be" routine which already had gotten old over the past few years as he pondered retirement every season only to ultimately return, has reached absurd heights.

There's a lot of folks with "surface-level knowledge" running around in the media right now screaming about how the Pack should welcome him back, just hand him the starting job and act like nothing ever happened. These are of course people with no clue whatsoever about the dynamics of a locker room.

Green Bay invested a #1 draft pick and significant time and money in Aaron Rogers as the quarterback of the future. He has patiently waited behind Favre for three years, an unprecedented necessity for a QB coming into the league with his stature. For the past few months, during offseason workouts, he has consolidated his position as the team's starter and on-field leader. And now, all of that is cast aside because Brett Favre decides that this week a return sounds good to him? Nuts to that, as Jesse Jackson might say.

The Packers might take a step backward at quarterback with Rogers this year, but there's more to the success of a franchise than short-term wins and losses. If Favre were to come back, the team's relationship with their future QB Rogers would irretrievably suffer -- plus, they'd again be hostage to Favre's year-to-year (or is it now week-to-week?) questions about whether he wants to keep playing. You have to move on at some point. I really wish that Favre hadn't walked away in March, but he did and he changed the equation completely. Because of my respect for him, I'm not going to bash him more than I already have or label him as selfish, but I side with the team completely on this one -- and that includes the matter of an unconditional request. The franchise would be derelict in its duties to its fans and shareholders if it were to yield to his request for an unconditional release, a move that would surely land him with one of the three QB-deficient teams in the NFC North. Loyalty to a legend must not include popping a cyanide pill just because he asks you to do so. The team should accommodate a move, but it should be outside the division and preferably, outside the conference.

Let me note also how much I enjoyed the fact that Favre steered his public statements to Greta's show on Fox News, not because I enjoy her boring program, but because he kept his comments away from ESPN. The Worldwide Monopoly on Cable Sports Coverage was already beating this story into the ground enough during the sports news vacuum that is MLB All-Star week; it didn't need his efforts to legitimize their repetitive, say-nothing drivel. I don't mean to put down great reporters like Chris Mortensen or John Clayton, just the talking heads who chew over what comes out of the interviews they conduct. Any time the masters of mind control, who want us to take seriously their insipid, make-believe events like "The ESPYs," end up losing, we all win.

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