Thank you Mike Silver. It’s nice that someone who gets paid to write about these things is actually paying attention to, you know, things like facts. Silver, formerly of Sports Illustrated and now with Yahoo! Sports, has a must-read column about this whole ordeal. (It was written before the Jets deal. Thanks to PG reader and renaissance man Bill Walsh for sending it.)
I’m serious. Go read it.
Okay, some of you are lazy or don’t have time at work. Here are the highlights.
There have been numerous tactical missteps made by Favre and the bosses he publicly suggested are dishonest – general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy – during this month-long saga, and Packers fans have a right to be frustrated at both camps. But if you believe that the quarterback soon will be leaving Green Bay…because those merciless meanies just didn’t want poor ol’ Brett around, you’ve got more than cheese clouding your head.
As McCarthy stated in his news conference after Tuesday’s practice, and as Favre himself had stated more clearly in his latest woe-is-me interview (this one to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen) earlier that morning, the reason the future Hall of Famer couldn’t come back to the Pack was that he can’t let go of his ill will toward his employers.
Favre got more and more resentful, lashing out publicly and privately demanding to be released. The team held firm, insisting that it would only trade him to a team outside its division. To force the issue – and thanks largely to the intervention of commissioner Roger Goodell – Favre secured his reinstatement, flew to Green Bay and, in a shameless bit of showmanship, showed up at Lambeau Field with his wife Deanna to watch the team’s “Family Night” scrimmage from a luxury box.
Favre, meanwhile, couldn’t overcome the negativity that apparently has been swirling inside his mind for quite some time. In that lengthy vent session last month to Greta Van Susteren of Fox News, Favre complained that he couldn’t trust Thompson because, among other things, the GM had ignored his pleadings to acquire Randy Moss and hired McCarthy over Steve Mariucci, the one-time Packers assistant and former 49ers and Lions coach with whom the quarterback is extremely close.
Think about that: Favre was affronted because the Pack’s general manager wouldn’t follow his quarterback’s decree about whom to hire as head coach.
The Packers hired former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer as a PR consultant, but in truth, Favre is the one more in need of such image management.
Consider that Favre, in another interview, said he only wanted to play for another NFC North team – in order to play the Packers twice a season. Now that’s loyalty.
Yet, for all his regrettable posturing, Favre still had the image war won when he stepped off that plane Sunday night and received a hero’s welcome and an invitation to return to the Packers’ roster. At that point, the coach of another NFL team told me, “The game’s over. There’s no way Favre won’t get his job back now. If you don’t start him, how are you going to explain it to all of those fans?”
If Favre, as some suspected, was preparing to engage the Packers in a game of chicken, be it in an attempt to go where he wanted to go (Minnesota) or to get his old job back, this is what he should have done:
1. Not attend the scrimmage. (Perhaps he and Deanna could have stayed home and rented a DVD.)
2. Apologize to McCarthy and Thompson for having called them dishonest and assure his bosses he had overcome his ill feelings and was embracing a return to the organization under any terms.
3. To prove he totally was on board, show up for practice on Tuesday, wave to the adoring fans, meet with reporters afterward and tell them, “I just want a chance to compete for my job and help this team” – even if he believed the competition was going to be a sham.
4. Quietly push for a trade or his outright release and wait for the Packers, facing the prospect of a season-long quarterback controversy and a $12 million tab for a player they had hoped would stay retired, to blink first.
Alas, Favre couldn’t help himself. On Tuesday, while still in discussions with McCarthy about his future, he took a break to call Mortensen and confirm what many of us had suspected all along: Favre, despite another public statement to the contrary (“My intentions have always been to play for Green Bay,” Favre had told the Sun Herald of Gulfport, Miss., before returning on Sunday), was the one who wanted out.
“The problem is that there’s been a lot of damage done and I can’t forget it,” he told Mortensen. “Stuff has been said, stories planted, that just aren’t true. Can I get over all that? I doubt it. … So they can say they welcome me back, but come on, the way they’ve treated me tells you the truth. They don’t want me back, so let’s move on.”
The reality for Packer fans, writes Silver, is that “their hero willfully abandoned them.”