A Final Effort to Protect Brett Favre's Legacy as One of the Best

Written By Bob Cunningham On Thursday, May 07, 2009
Reports are coming out now that nothing has come from the meeting between former New York Jets quarterback Brett Favre and Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress.

But no matter what is said or reported, no one seems to believe it. Everyone has their own ideas, but the majority opinion seems to be that he will play in 2009.

No one believes Favre when he says he's retired, which I agree with. But only to a point.

As far as I'm concerned the situations of last offseason and this year's offseason are night and day.

In Green Bay, it was fairly obvious that Ted Thompson/Mike McCarthy wanted Favre gone to make way for Aaron Rodgers. After Favre's obviously sub-par season in 2005 (20 TD's to 29 INT's), he thought Favre would have been gone by 2006, and certainly by 2007.

Unfortunately for Thompson/McCarthy, Favre played too well to warrant getting rid of or benching him.

2006 was not a great year for Favre (18 TD's to 18 INT's), but he led a bad team to a .500 record that year, and set the platform for success in 2007.

The story of 2007 is a well-known one. Favre, at 38 years old, led the packers to a 13-3 record and to the NFC Championship game on his arm and a late-season breakout by Ryan Grant.

Let's not forget that for the first 10 games of the 2007 season, Favre had thrown more passes than any quarterback in the league and the Packers had the most lop-sided run-pass ratio in the NFL. At some points reaching 80%-20%.

Regardless of having absolutely no running game for over half the year, Favre played like he was in his late-20's rather than late-30's.

With 28 TD's and only 15 INT's Favre was in talks for MVP through the entire year, and did in fact earn a few votes.

Unfortunately for Favre, no one remembers the fact that he led a decent team to a year where they overachieved. That was fairly obvious to anyone really paying attention. The only thing anyone remembers was his lollipop interception to seal the loss against the Giants.

All the Favre-haters conveniently forget the fact that he had thrown for five touchdowns to only two interceptions during the postseason with a 99.0 quarterback rating, or the fact that Ryan Grant fumbled the ball away twice in one game.

No, the only thing brought up is the interception. I'm not here to defend the pass, it was a bad pass, but considering the man was 80% of the reason they were there in the first place, I think he deserves some slack for that.

But regardless of the fact that Favre was the biggest reason for the Packers' success, Thompson/McCarthy had watched their golden-boy hold a clipboard for far too long, leading to his storied trade to the New York Jets.

During that well-publicized offseason, the Packers did all they could to make Favre look like the bad guy in order to temper some of the backlash that they knew they would receive if Favre was wearing any colors other than green and yellow.

You must tip your hat to Thompson, the man did his job in that regard.

Favre was made to look like this evil child holding his parents hostage until he decided they were allowed to be let go, and that's simply not the case.

Favre was pressured by Thompson and McCarthy into making a decision, and making it quickly.

The same happened to Marino after the 1999 season when Dave Wannstedt came in with the crazy idea that Marino was washed up and convinced him to retire. Like Thompson/McCarthy, Wannstedt was in no way married to Marino and wanted his own guy (by the way, Jay Fiedler was great).

Favre, like Marino, obliged and came to the decision that he felt was the proper one at the time, and that was to retire.

I believe that when Favre gave his now-infamous retirement speech at his press conference, that he really believed he couldn't take it anymore. He felt as though the pressures of the offseason were simply too much for him to handle any longer.

However, had he been given the time to think and make a decision, he would never have retired, and this would not even be an issue.

Instead, the man who helped bring the Packers back to relevancy for the first time since the departure of Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr, was treated like a scrub who had done nothing for the organization.

However, what was done was done. Brett Favre was now a New York Jet and they immediately became Super Bowl favorites in a lot of football circles.

And why? Because they had Brett Favre. Speaks to the man's reputation a bit, doesn't it? A team that missed the playoffs the previous year is being talked about in the Super Bowl because they brought in this one guy. Not bad.

Once again, Favre had his team overachieving.

Anyone who believes the Jets were a .500 team before Favre arrived is living in a revisionist's history fantasy world.

The Jets had made some improvements here and there and were definitely a better team, but they were a couple years away from being considered legitimate playoff contenders.

But Favre did what he always does, and that's win. If you doubt that, just look at the man's record. Only in one year did he have a losing season, and that was 2005 (4-12) with a putrid team around him. Up until then, the worst he had done was 8-8.

Does anyone really believe that if Kellen Clemens was under center that the Jets would have even sniffed 9-7? Or that Thomas Jones would have been able to have the year that he had?

The answer to both is no. Clemens may be a decent quarterback one day, but he doesn't hold a candle to Favre (never will), and the only reason Jones had the year that he had was because Favre's presence would not allow the defense to stack eight men in the box and focus only on him.

They had to respect Brett Favre.

Jones loved criticizing Favre and running his mouth, but he'll be missing him big time when Mark Sanchez doesn't even make a defense blink and he's brought back down to earth.

But again, even with the Jets, Favre was in MVP talks and everyone was praising Tennenbaum for bringing him to New York, until the injury.

Favre tore a bicep in his arm and wasn't the same for the last four or five games of the season, but how many quarterbacks could be? Elway played extremely well with the same injury, but Elway was an exception and didn't rely on his arm strength in the same way that Favre did.

But in typical Favre fashion, he played through it.

Did you ever hear Favre blame a bad game on his arm? Never. But still there were calls to bench him, and I won't even argue that. I do believe that you allow a player of his caliber to try and work it out because even injured he's far and away better than anything on the bench.

But instead of Mangini catching the heat for deciding to leave him in, Favre caught heat and was called a selfish person for continuing to play.


He's a selfish person because he's fighting through injury to do everything he can to help his team win? That hardly makes any sense. The case could be mad that perhaps he was hurting the team because he wasn't the same, but that's not his call to make. Any self-respecting football player will never pull themselves out of a game.

That is on the coach to decide.

For example, this year Donovan McNabb was not playing well for a stretch of a couple games. He got pulled by the head coach. He was angry because regardless of how you're playing you never want to be pulled and no player (well, no good player) will ever do that to themselves.

But this offseason, after the injury and getting attacked relentlessly by any writer who wanted a story and wanted to cause a stir, he has decided that it's time to hang up the cleats.

I believe that this is the real deal. Favre has been given time to think about it and come to a decision without any pressure. In fact, new head coach Rex Ryan and owner Woody Johnson said they would have loved to have him back for another season. Apparently, they're the only guys who get it.

If Favre comes back again, he deserves every bit of criticism that the media and fans can lay on him because this team it's all on him.

However, he's made his decision now and I believe he will do just as he told Brad Childress and stay retired.

The point is that Favre played the game simply to play the game. He didn't play for the money or the fame, and he's not this "Prima Donna" everyone believes he is. He's the guy throwing a touchdown in the backyard and carry his receiver around the field for a victory lap on his shoulders.

He should be a guy who's looked at as a role model. A man who had a bout with prescription drugs and alcohol, but he beat it. He overcame his problems and became one of the best quarterbacks, if not the best, to ever play the game.

He put it all on the line, hurt or not. He did whatever he could to help his team win and 63% (his winning percentage, 169-100) of the time it worked like a charm. He was an unorthodox player but the job got done, and it got done extremely well.

Perhaps instead of mocking John Madden (another disrespected football icon) for his admiration of Brett Favre, everyone should follow suit and recognize the man's importance and contribution to not only the NFL, but the game of football.

So to Brett Favre: Stay in Hattiesburg and enjoy your Hall of Fame election in five years. I hear Hattiesburg, Mississippi is a great place to be in October. Well, better than Minnesota at least.

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