Archive for Monday, April 10, 2006

Commentary: Favre saga growing mighty tiresome

Quarterback must announce soon whether he plans to retire or quarterback Packers

April 10, 2006


— This tedious Brett Favre saga, which should've ended long before Saturday's non-event in a Mississippi casino town, has become the modern-day version of a '70s arena-rock drum solo.

At some point, speculating whether he will retire or return to quarterback the Packers another season stops being interesting and just becomes annoying.

That's not an easy thing to say about Favre, the likes of whom may never pass this way again with his singular combination of geniality and otherworldly skills, but this whole to-be-or-not-to-be routine is not only beyond tiresome, it is also reinforcing the notion that Favre is placing the interests of himself beyond the interests of his team.

Favre, then, needs to move on from the smokescreen that he is waiting for a clearer indication of the Green Bay Packers' intentions. Too much attention has been placed on whether the Packers have done enough in the free-agent market and with personnel moves to satisfy Favre, because the real issue is far less technical and much more human.

The real issue, the one that history has proven time and again (see Clemens, Roger for the latest example) is the great ones generally do not retire unless they are dragged kicking and screaming from the competition that is completely and unconditionally addicting in its allure.

It should be apparent by now to Favre and everyone else that general manager Ted Thompson's gradual rebuilding plans do not include any get-better-quick schemes to accommodate the short-term wants of one player, even if that one player is among the greatest in NFL history. Nor should the Packers' long-term outlook oblige one man, even if that one man is Brett Favre.

Just as apparent is the feeling that Favre will return next season, so why doesn't he just come out and admit it? If we are to believe Favre-and there is every reason to do so because the imperceptible gap between the man and the image has not widened one iota after all these years-he says he won't come back for the money or the opportunity to break more records.

And if the Packers are really no closer to the Super Bowl than they were after last season's 4-12 disaster, why should he even think about returning?

For the same reason that most extraordinary athletes-with the notable exceptions of Jim Brown and Barry Sanders in the National Football League-simply cannot walk away when they are still in control of most of their skills.

We can talk from now until the season opener about the $10 million and Dan Marino's records and the downer of playing for another bad team. And, yes, those are significant considerations. But in the end, the driven ones don't ordinarily retire unless they are forced to do so by injury or other compelling factors. That overriding instinct seemed to be taking over inside of Favre when he admitted Saturday that the memory of 4-12 was beginning to fade.

What is he going to do next year, sit on his front porch while he is still in game shape? No, that is not what the seriously competitive do. With him or without him, the Packers likely are not a playoff team.


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