Sunday, July 27, 2008

The unbearable lightness of Favre

So much of the local media is supporting Ted Thompson's treatment of Brett Favre. I think it's profoundly mistaken. I begin with the proposition that whether Favre has treated the Packers "fairly" or has acted in a rational manner is wholly irrelevant. His job was never guaranteed by - nor is it entirely dependent upon - some judgment as to whether his behavior or that of Packers' management was more reasonable.

The question - the only one - is whether the Packers are better today with Favre at quarterback. The team - at least with Favre - is a Super Bowl contender and you don't throw that away for the "future."

So there are three possible justifications for Thompson's position. The first - and most easily disposed of - would be a belief that Rodgers is a better quarterback today. He may be, but no rational person could think so. He hasn't played an entire game in the NFL. While he moved the team against the Cowboys after Favre was hurt, he showed an inability to finish drives. He hasn't, if I recall correctly, played more than three consecutive quarters in the NFL without being hurt - has, in fact, never had any significant playing time without being hurt. None of this means that he can't be a very good quarterback, but the notion that the Packers are better in 2008 with Rodgers than they are with Favre is just nuts.

I understand that Favre got very cold in the NFC championship game. (I was there.) But the real problem in that game was the complete absence of a running game and Plaxico Burress' domination of Al Harris. Change either one of those and the game wouldn't have come down to an interception in overtime.

But maybe it's not so crazy if Favre isn't really ready to play. Maybe his Hamlet act has convinced Thompson that he doesn't want it anymore. But it seems to me that he has - after starting so many games in a row and playing so well at such an advanced age - earned a presumption that he will be ready to play. Not as a reward, but as a recognition that past practice supports this particular projection of future performance. If he can't answer the bell, Rodgers is ready - or at least Thompson thinks so.

Maybe Thompson thinks that Favre's grandstanding will hurt team morale. There are reports that Favre became bigger than the team during the (not unsuccessful) Sherman era - but, if he did, it seems that the larger problem in the Packers failure to make it to an NFC title game or the Super Bowl - was the absence of a supporting cast. Favre didn't fail to stop the Eagles on 4th & 26. It was the entire team that got dominated by the Falcons and Vikings.

Thompson obviously has great ability in identifying good football players - particularly among the less celebrated. (His first round choices - with the exception of A.J. Hawk - have been uninspired.) That's a great talent but you also have to know how to deal with stars. His bullheadedness about what Favre should and should not have done has backed him in a corner. If Favre plays poorly elsewhere, he'll be ok. If Favre plays well elsewhere or, and this is the cruel part, doesn't play at all, then Rodgers needs to have a Pro Bowl season and the Packers have to, at least, win the division. There is no way that his handling of this situation doesn't place Rodgers under tremendous pressure.

Maybe Aaron is up to that. I'm a Packers fan and I hope so. But it's a bizarre - and unnecessary gamble - on Thompson's part.


Jimi5150 said...

I've said this else where . . . the Packer's season was not wholly Favre's doing. They had a top 3 (or so) defense, a stable of better than average receivers, a running game that found itself, a line that protected Favre better than ever before, and a coach that brained some very good sets.

Forgetting the "cold" thing, our deep game was none existent. I never considered Brett the most accurate quarterback out there. Tenacious? Yes. A gun slinger? Yes. But as good as he can look he can look doubly bad.

Don't get me wrong, I love Favre. But I do think his time has come. For all the drama, if he came back as a starter, we'd better go to the Superbowl. Anything less and I'd consider this all a big mistake.

Anonymous said...

Rick, save this Packer garbage for the sports columns. I live in Green Bay and the Packer carpet bombing every day in the media gets more than tiresome. After Harlan sold his pack of lies to get the signing bonus tax passed, I wrote the whole organization off as just another bunch of subsidized welfare queens. So on Sunday nights when I hop over to Shark and Shepherd, I'm looking for a couple of interesting music videos, not more Favre crap.

Anonymous said...

This morning there are reports (which may be true or false)that Thompson told Favre that he wasn't even welcome in the building. If this is true (again, I realize that it might not be)I say that we pull a Frankenstein and run Thompson out of town (literally) carrying torches.

Jimi5150 said...

Hmm. Throw the guy out who picked the guy to coach the team with players that he drafted that helped the Packers get to within one game of the Superbowl . . . ?

And Rick, all I have to say is . . . variety is the spice of life.

Anonymous said...

For all you Farve lovers, get a grip. If he comes back to play for the Packers, what happens next year--will he retire or won't he? Oh, let's not make any plans for the future because Farve, our hero, may want to return! I've heard a few Farve lovers say that he is the only chance to get the Packers back to the Superbowl. Seriously? Just how many Superbowl rings does Mr. Farve have? Get a grip people! The Packers organization are doing the right thing. Time to move on.

Anonymous said...

I was a Packer fan even during their one win season. Winning was not the only thing then and it is not the only thing now. I am still a fan but have grown tired of the Favre soap opera. Let us move on.

Anonymous said...

anony 8:51
Learn how to spell Mr. Favre.

I know that Brett is not innocent in this whole thing. Whatever they do, I just think that they should treat a 3 time MVP with a little bit more respect. Brett has done alot for the game of football in Wisconsin and I thank him for that. Brett was a big part of the Pack getting within one game of the Super Bowl (yeah I know - the interception. I was there). Remember those first games of last season when we had no running game? Brett was a major reason why we won those.

Anonymous said...

Treat him with more respect? Geez, it's not like FAVRE (maybe if he pronounced his name right people could spell it) was paid minimum wage! Yeah, FAVRE is very, very good at what he does/did, but from a business angle, exactly WHAT were the Packers supposed to do? Sit on their hands waiting for the great FAVRE to make a freakin' decision?