(The initial part of this post was first drafted back in March, around Favre’s retirement time, but it was not posted because Steve wanted to “do more research”…I’m trying purge Steve of his journalist tendencies and have them give way to blogger tendencies, but no dice. We’ve actually both thought that TT has wanted Favre out now for a while – dating back to last year. We’re writing this now because if this Favre thing is pushed further, I’m pretty convinced we’ll all see that TT never wanted Favre back anyway – TT did everything he could to make it clear to Favre that TT was ready for the Favre era to end).
Here it is. Steve and I have been speculating about this really ever since the 2006 season ended. We have reached the conclusion that by his actions (or inactions), his words and even his non-verbals (counselor-speak), TT has made it relatively clear to fans and I’m sure Favre, that he was actually NOT indifferent to Favre’s retirement decision (which was the public impression he conveyed), but that he just didn’t want Favre on the team anymore, period. We have been monitoring this scenario the whole off-season like most NFL fans with a suspicious eye cast toward TT. Following is our argument.
- Prior to Favre’s retirement, TT responded to a reporter wondering if TT had encouraged Favre to come back by saying something to the effect of: Favre is a 38 year old man, he can make his own decisions. TT handled this reporter’s question in a dismissive fashion.
- Mike McCarthy never spoke inclusively of TT whenever alluding to efforts to encourage Favre to come back. On a good number of occasions, MM was clear that he wanted Favre to come back, but MM never indicated “we” or never mentioned TT when referring to Favre (that I am aware of).
- TT being extra clear once Favre did retire that Rodgers is the guy. Sure, this is a logical thing to say considering he was back-up last year and has learned now for 3 years behind Favre etc. But it was interesting that this was simply declared by TT right after Favre retired when the modern-day response for coaches/GMs to any talk of who will start is “it’s an open competition” etc.
- TT’s handling of the locker situation – wanting a clear, tangible reminder to all that Favre is done.
- TT making sure Favre’s retirement ceremony would take place as soon as possible – the first game of the season.
- TT drafting 2 QBs in the draft. For a guy who “never drafts for need”, this appears to be an extra obvious message to Favre that the team is attempting to move on.
- TT’s non-verbals during the whole retirement announcement process. I got a fairly strong sense that he simply was not that INTO the whole retirement, tribute, adoration period like most of the rest of the football world.
- The straight comments from Favre’s family and agent that it was clear the Packers didn’t want him back. They said it then and they’ve said it as recently as yesterday (WISN news and FOX 6 both carried phone conversations with family members indicating the Packers didn’t do enough to convince Favre that he was wanted back). Given that McCarthy is on record stating he and Clements tried hard to convince Favre, when Favre and family members say “the Packers” didn’t do enough, clearly, this leaves only one person in a position power for them to be referring to: TT.
- Rodgers is TT’s guy. TT drafted him and has pushed for Rodgers to succeed and one day be the guy.
- The fact that Jason Wilde and many other writers are pointing out that the Packers likely won’t take Favre back. How Favre’s potential return is handled is something that is determined by TT ultimately and so when these writers state that they have inside sources indicating Favre’s return would not be welcomed by the Packers, what they are saying essentially is that TT does not want him back. Period.
I know there are those of you out there who may be frustrated that I am posting this and seemingly siding with Favre. That’s not quite true. While I wouldn’t be averse to Favre returning because I think he could lead this team to the Super Bowl, and while I do think TT has not wanted Favre on the team for a while now, I do think Favre has handled this situation poorly. A quiet part of me hopes that what he said today, that this is all just a rumor, is true so that he can preserve his well-deserved legacy and the Packers can move forward with an exciting young QB.
Both sides have handled this poorly. Both sides, in fact, are meta-messaging. What is meta-messaging? Well, frankly, it is a method of communication often exhibited by females. (Sorry female packergeeks readers, I’m just regurgitating info I learned from a communication seminar once…given by a female). The basic premise is that women, for whatever reason, sometimes do not communicate directly what is it they want or what it is they are thinking. For example, if your wife wants to stop at the ice cream shop she won’t say, “let’s stop there and get ice cream”. Instead, she says, as you drive by, “boy it’s sure crowded there, perfect summer night, those people seem to be enjoying themselves”. A few blocks later, the husband, who as usual was not being a good listener, realizes maybe his wife meant she wanted ice cream. When he asks if this is the case, his wife responds, pouting, “no, it’s too late now anyway”. Then wife is mad and husband is frustrated.
Anyway, my point is this: both TT and Favre are meta-messaging and we as fans are left to devour internet rumors and speculation in hopes of uncovering the truth. If either would just come out and say what’s really going on, maybe this whole thing could move forward in a more constructive way. But both sides are afraid to say something likely because they don’t want to look bad in the eyes of NFL/Packer fans. Problem is, this growing uncertainty re the truth is fostering some pretty strong reactions from fans – just listen to any sports talk radio station.
Here’s my best effort at the real truth here: after Favre’s poor 2005 season, TT wanted Favre out. Then due to the excitement generated by the strong finish at the end of the 2006 season, TT decided for PR reasons that he shouldn’t push Favre out like he had been planning to do, but instead gave barely noticeable support to a Favre return. Then, after the 2007 season, TT had further resolved to get Favre out (though it’s hard to imagine why a GM would want to usher out the 4th rated passer who took his team to the NFC Championship game). Throughout the off-season, TT did his best to dodge public questions re his stance on Favre’s return for 2008. But the truth is, he has wanted him out for a while now and when Favre finally decided to retire, TT moved swiftly (as we’ve pointed out above) to move on. Now, I suspect that Favre is actually just putting out feelers to see how a possible return would be received by the team/fans. I wonder a bit if he is intentionally trying to put pressure on the fans to put pressure on TT and the team to welcome him back. I don’t suspect he is itching to play elsewhere (as it seems only really crappy teams have major QB needs).
Either way, this situation is just not sitting well with me or really, any of the fans who have weighed in on this. (Oh, and by the way, read this from Rob Demovsky today – our guess is you’ll see more and more articles like this as it all shakes out).