Or a skunk at the garden party. Sorry, that’s me.
There is much to learn about the latest news on Brett Favre, his return to Green Bay, the Packers’ sudden warmth, and the reports that he will be allowed to compete for the starting job. What’s happening?
I hope they’re trying to increase leverage for a trade. I don’t think Favre should be allowed back. He has done far too much damage — including repeated public eviscerations of the team’s general manager — to pretend that bygones will be bygones.
Consider: There are credible reports that Bus Cook approached the Vikings on Favre’s behalf last spring. Favre has acknowledged being in contact “often” with the head coach and offensive quarterback of the Packers’ biggest rival. He has, on numerous occasions, demanded his outright release from the Packers, something that would allow him to play in the division. Prominent national sportswriters — Peter King and Chris Mortensen among them — have written, without sourcing or qualification, that Favre wants to play for the Vikings. Steve Mariucci, one of Favre’s closest friends, said on NFL Network that Favre would play for the Vikings or the Bears. And just three days ago, Favre made this bizarre request of the Packers via ESPN’s Ed Werder.
There is much, much more. Favre has lied repeatedly throughout this process — about the Packers, about his desire to return to the game, about Ted Thompson. I won’t run through all of the examples, but here are a few just to provide some flavor.
*Favre simply lied when he claimed that Ted Thompson reneged on a promise to resign Mike Wahle, Marco Rivera or both. (Favre claimed that Thompson tricked him into coming back for the 2005 season by promising Favre that he would bring one or both of those guys back then announcing “the following day” that they had signed elsewhere. Not true. Favre announced his return a full week after Wahle and Rivera had been signed by other teams.)
*Favre flat-out lied when he told SI’s Peter King in early April that coming back was “the last thing I’m thinking about.” Days earlier he had told the Packers he was coming back and changed his mind. Favre also pretended that he had no idea where rumors of his change of heart were coming from. He told King: “I’m happy about my decision and I haven’t once said, ‘I wonder if I made the wrong decision.’ I know it’s the right one.”
*Favre’s friends and family have sown rumors about Favre’s displeasure with the Packers refusal to sign Randy Moss and complained publicly that Favre did not feel wanted by the Packers. Favre has, at various times, said things that seem to confirm and deny both claims, all in an attempt to make the Packers look bad.
And on it goes.
Yesterday, Jim wrote:
LET FAVRE REPORT AND BE NAMED STARTING QB MONDAY. Here is my reasoning. This is football not church. The goal is to win and win now. There is no doubt he gives us the best chance to win – that is indisputable. The man has earned forgiveness. He has literally bled for this team, restored this team, and won for this team. Would you rather have Ted Thompon’s principles and a content Aaron Rogers or 13 wins?
I can understand that view. It was mine in the days immediately after word first leaked that Favre wanted to come back. It was a no-brainer. If the three-time MVP — who would have had a fourth MVP last year if not for Tom Brady — wants to come back even after announcing his retirement, you let him do so. And my bottom line was the same as Jim’s: He gives the Packers the best chance to win.
That’s probably still true, though it’s an open question how bitter his teammates will be about his dramatics over the past month. And there is little question that his reputation as selfless will have taken a hit.
Even if he gives them the best chance to win this year, it’s not worth bringing him back. It’s not about the Packers for Brett Favre. It’s about Brett Favre. And part of me, looking back through the prism of last month, thinks it’s always been about Brett Favre.
I was not initially sympathetic to the argument that bringing Favre back would have a negative impact on Aaron Rodgers. I’m more sympathetic to it now and I think that original argument failed to include several unintended consequences. It’s hard to imagine Rodgers coming back after he hits free agency if the Packers do this to him now. I wouldn’t even consider it, even if it meant a dramatic pay cut. What’s more, Rodgers has clearly gone out of his way to win over his teammates. That’s not enough to make you an NFL starter, of course, but judging from some of the comments in the press over the past month or two, it’s enough to make many Packers care deeply about what happens to Rodgers. If he’s bitter — and he will be — it’ll spread through the team.
Bottom line for me: I hope the Packers are pretending to be interested in having Favre back. I hope they are still talking to teams across the NFL about a trade. And I hope Vikings, with chances of signing Favre slipping and chances of facing him again on the rise, come to the Packers and make the kind of trade offer the Packers can’t refuse. And strange as it sounds, I hope Brett Favre comes out of the locker room on September 8.