the correct perspective on Brett Favre

The Brett Favre unretirement issue has been brewing for a few weeks now. And I have yet to write about it. As a Green Bay Packers shareholder and season ticket owner, I definitely have some strong feelings about what is right. And like all Packer fans, if you’re feelings are different than mine, then you’re wrong.

My feelings took a leap in strength when I heard Brett’s interview with Greta Van Susteren. What bothered me was that he pointed out three situations that caused him to not trust the general manager, Ted Thompson. And I have a problem with each of the three, in that while each shows a clear disagreement, they are certainly not evidence of mistrust.

  1. Ted Thompson was named GM in January 2005. At that time Brett told Ted to be sure to resign two of his linemen, Marco Rivera and Mike Wall. Ted said he would do that. And then both players signed with other teams. Brett didn’t like that. He thought Thompson should have signed at least one of them.
  2. Then Mike Sherman was fired as the head coach. Favre asked Thompson if he would interview his friend, Steve Marriuci (former Packers QB coach). Then Thompson hired Mike McCarthy as the new head coach, without interviewing Marriuci. Favre thought that Thompson should have at least interviewed him.
  3. The third issue was how the Randy Moss situation was handled. Brett wanted Thompson to sign Moss during the spring of 2007, and Thompson didn’t do that. Favre said, “…the whole Randy Moss deal, which I had tried to be quiet on that whole deal. I worked my butt off two years ago to try to get them to sign Randy Moss. And I mean, I’m being as honest as I can be. I told the media, ‘No’…” Brett then went on to say, “the fact they didn’t sign him, yes, I was upset. But what upsets me more is when he (Thompson) was asked, ‘Hey, is it true Favre lobbied hard?’ ‘Not that I’m aware of.’ Now, that’s bull.”So, we have a situation where Brett was asked by the press about Moss, and he kept quiet saying that he didn’t pressure Thompson. Then Thompson was also asked if Favre pressured him, and he also said “no”, choosing to not make an issue of it. So Brett doesn’t want Thompson to lie to the press, but it’s okay that he did it himself.

Favre finished that discussion saying, “And so that’s where I stand on that. And that’s the third thing, you know? And none of those had anything to do with me retiring, once again, but you know, it’s hard for me to trust this guy, when either I’m told one thing and everyone else is told another, or he’s telling the public one thing and telling me another.”

No matter whose side you’re on, no matter how you view the entire situation, I just don’t see how the above three issues would cause anyone to not trust Thompson. Thompson is the GM. He has to make personnel decisions, and there are dozens, if not hundreds, of factors that contribute to the decision on every player. Favre doesn’t address that side of the equation. He just said that he doesn’t trust Thompson. And he says Thompson shouldn’t lie to the public, though it’s okay that he does. But think about this for a minute. How would you feel about your team’s GM if he was 100% forthcoming and honest about every question asked to him. He’s an NFL GM! His very job description requires that he keeps quiet on much more than what he actually tells us, especially around draft time. This is NFL 101 folks.

So, based on Favre’s interview with Van Susteren, I don’t trust him. I don’t like his decision-making process in this whole deal. I don’t like the reasons that he mistrusts Thompson.

Then you have numerous other factors. I’ll address a few of them, just the issues that I find are key issues:

1) There’s this concept floating out there that Brett Favre is the best thing since sliced bread, that he gives us the best chance to win a Super Bowl. I don’t know what data that is based on. Most passing yards in a career? Most touchdown passes in a career? In the NFL, GMs must always be asking, “what have you done for us lately?” Brett Favre got us to two Super Bowls in 16 years, and we only won one of those, and that was over a decade ago. The 1996 season is over folks.

Quarterbacks that can get us to the playoffs are a dime a dozen. I’m not satisfied just getting to the playoffs. We need to go further. We need to stop these ridiculous interceptions at key points in key games. “Moving on” at least insures that it will no longer happen with Favre.

2) Some folks have accused Ted Thompson of waffling. That he originally told Brett that he can come in and compete for a job, but now he doesn’t want him to come to camp. And this accusation is made with the assumption that it’s never okay for an NFL GM to ever change his mind.

As long as you’re willing to face the consquences, it’s not only okay to change your mind, but it’s expected. As an owner, I’m fine with my GM saying today “you can come back” and then a month later saying “we don’t want you”. The NFL off season is not stagnant. There’s a lot going on, seven days a week. Things are changing every day, minute by minute. And if you think a GM should never change his mind, you don’t understand the GM’s role.

3) Folks who are purist Brett Favre fans have this mistaken idea that Brett has earned the right to determine when he’s done playing; that the GM has no say in the matter. Quite the contrary. It’s up to the GM to remove players from his roster before they go bad. If the GM keeps a player who forces his coach to bench him in October because he’s no longer pulling his weight, then the GM screwed up. For the past couple of seasons,  Thompson has said that “it’s up to Brett” to decide when he’s gonna retire. Well, now it’s 2008 and the GM is saying “no more.” That’s his job.

4) In the NFL, there aren’t many things worse for a team than a quarterback controversy. As bad as Rex Grossman has been, I’ve respected Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith for saying “Rex is our guy.” He stuck with him. You need that on a team. The quarterback needs to know that he’s got the support of the coaches and the GM. And Ted Thompson will not allow anyone, not even Brett Favre, to create a quarterback controversy at Lambeau. Favre retired and Thompson moved on. He made it clear right from the get go that Aaron Rogers is our guy. Perfect. Had he allowed Brett to come back, what happens if Brett changes his mind again later during training camp and decides that he should have stayed retired? After all, he has indeed proven that he can change his mind on retirement. Thompson will not allow his team to get caught up in such a situation. Aaron Rogers is our guy. Perfect.

5) I’ve enjoyed watching Brett Favre play for 16 seasons. We Packer fans have been spoiled. And when it comes to individual achievements, it doesn’t get any better than the 2007 season for Brett Favre. But as much as I love Brett Favre (and my two “4” jerseys), I’m a Packer fan first. No man is bigger than the Green Bay Packers.

There are so many other points to address. But that’s all l’m going to say, for now anyway (there are updates to the situation happening even as I write this). And I know that all of my points above can be argued. My brother and I seem to disagree on most everything related to this issue. He made some good arguments against my points, to which of course I have more counterpoints. We can all go back and forth.

The bottom line for me is that Brett Favre has to realize that he’s not the general manager of the Green Bay Packers. He doesn’t make personnel decisions. He does indeed have clout. He is well-liked around these parts. And he deserves our respect. But Ted Thompson is the general manager.

Regardless how this whole situation pans out, I’m confident that years from now, we Packer fans will be united in our support for both the team and #4. Any time Brett steps foot on the hallowed grass at Lambeau, he will be well-received as the biggest hero of this Packers generation.

Comments 1

  • Hi Scott

    Thanks for your measured thoughts on the whole saga! I must say that the whole thing churns me up – even at my distance in the UK. It has truly become a “no-win” situation – but I am broadly in agreement with what you say.

    As one who has idolised Brett, and one who was gravely disappointed when the GM sacked Mike Sherman, I do find myself supporting Ted Thompson. I’m not sure how else he could have handled the situation. After all, when Brett announced his retirement, TT could hardly say “Well, I’ll wait around and do nothing, just in case he changes his mind.”

    But it’s all so very sad!