Future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre told the Vikings that he will not return at this time…But will he really stay retired
The never-ending saga of quarterback Brett Favre’s retirement/unretirement that has exacerbated sports headlines — and quite frankly my nerves — since mid May just “might” have taken it’s final turn on July 28th. The 39-year old surefire Hall of Fame passer announced via Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress that his body was too broken and battered to attempt a comeback with the Vikings this season. Favre’s announcement ended the second straight summer where the NFL community had to endure his ego-driven unretirement talk while waiting “patiently” for the 18-year veteran to finally make-up his mind one way or the other.
Favre had fueled speculation that his return to the Vikings was pretty much a done deal after having undergone surgery to repair the torn biceps tendon earlier in the summer and working out with high school kids at Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg, Mississippi on a consistent basis. But in the end, I guess the graybeard passer came to the realization that his body and heart were not into playing a 19th NFL season this time for the Vikings. Later Favre, himself, told ESPN’s Ed Werder, “It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made.” Favre added, “I didn’t feel like physically I could play at the level that was acceptable. I would like to thank everyone, including the Packers, Jets and Vikings, but most importantly, the fans. I had to be careful not to commit for the wrong reasons…They were telling me, ‘you went through all this, you had the surgery, you’ve got to finish it off.’ But I have legitimate reasons for my decision. I’m 39 — will turn 40 on Oct. 10 — with a lot of sacks to my name.”
Favre’s decision left the Vikings, who spent the last three months doing everything to “court” the former 3-time MVP to join them, to pick-up the pieces of their 2008 NFC North Championship team that was looking to make the jump into being a serious Super Bowl contender this season. Vikings players were to report to training camp in Mankato, Minnesota on Wednesday with the long shadow of Favre definitely not too far behind. Childress, who is on one of the hotter seats in the NFL after going 24-24, lamented about not getting Favre through a written statement. “It was a rare and unique opportunity to consider adding not only a future Hall of Fame quarterback but one that is very familiar with our system and division.” Childress added, “That does not detract from the team that we have. As we have consistently communicated, we feel good about our team, and they have put forth a tremendous effort this offseason preparing for the season ahead. With this behind us, we look forward to getting to Mankato and getting training camp under way.”
I cannot even imagine the scene of the Vikings coming together at training camp and trying to rally behind their two “also-ran” quarterbacks – Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels — after several players, including Pro Bowl players RB Adrian Peterson and DE Jared Allen, lobbied hard for Favre to join them. In doing some well-deserved damage control, Peterson tried to quell the Favre talk by saying on the Vikings’ team Web site. “It doesn’t make sense to worry about things that are out of my control, I am confident in every player we have on our roster, and I believe our front office has done everything in its power to keep improving our team. Now, as players, it’s our job to go out there and defend our division championship, get back to the playoffs and make a run at the Super Bowl.” Maybe Favre not coming will propel the Vikings and whichever quarterback that wins the starter job to new heights.
However I don’t care how many statements have been issued through the team’s PR department or how many team-building measures are taken, the Vikings are already a distracted team, in my book, before their season has even started. So now it will be up to players like Peterson, Allen, and DE Ray Edwards to rally their Vikings teammates so they can possibly step around the mess left by the group of Favre, Childress, and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevels. My advice for the Vikings to move forward is as follows: Let Jackson and Rosenfels battle it out – expect Jackson to the starter in Week 1 at Cleveland; run the ball over 30 times a game with Peterson and Chester Taylor; find inventive ways to get the ball in explosive rookie Percy Harvin’s hands; and let your D-line (Allen, Edwards, and the Williams Wall) continue to harass the quarterback leading to turnovers by your DB’s.
So do we have enough closure to finally list Favre’s career NFL stats in ink. I am not going to say this thing is totally over until I see Favre standing at the podium in Canton with his gold jacket on. Already I have been there are reports that Favre is still throwing and he apparently confirmed this with his former position coach and confidant Steve Mariucci. Favre even said to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, “I really believe this is it. I truly, truly believe it’s over. But if someone calls Nov. 1, who knows?” So the door is closed for now, but Favre maybe lurking somewhere with a crowbar in his hands to jimmy the door back open to jump back right into the NFL scene. I really want to see what happens if (when) there is a big quarterback injury during the league’s first six games.
If Favre’s decision is his final one, then hallelujah lets move-on to the litany of other topical stories heading into the 2009 NFL season. I will state that have been a Favre follower since his early days with the Packers when he made it seems something out of nothing every game. But I also have to admit his whole unretirement act has stretched my Favre bro-mance to its limits, as right now I believe he has severely tarnished his legacy. However as Favre “walks” away, though his flip-flopping may have taken something away for many, he will forever be remember for playing the game of football with childlike joy.
Though some will try to paint Favre as an egotistical bully after two summers worth of retirement/unretirement talk, not even his end of the career waffling will not truly dull Favre’s legacy for good. As time passes I believe most No. 4 fans will remember him fondly as the player that dominated the ‘90s at the quarterback position. The three-time NFL MVP endeared himself to NFL fans by giddily waltzing through the storm of eighteen NFL seasons producing win after win including an indelible victory in Super Bowl XXXII, where of course he won the MVP of the game. Then there are the numerous records that are securely in his treasure chest including most career NFL touchdown passes (464), most career NFL passing yards (65,127), most career pass completions (5,720), most career passing attempts (9,280), most career NFL interceptions thrown (310), his “iron man” most consecutive starts quarterback streak (269 and you can make it 291 if you include the playoffs), and most career victories as a starting quarterback (169). Favre had a quality that made everyone for him even if he was on the opposing team’s sideline.
His passion for the game stems from a pure love of “street” football that we all remember from our youth. So close your eyes and remember the moments that Favre produced — the Super Bowl win over the Patriots where he and Reggie White brought the title back to “Title Town”, the magical December 2003 night in Oakland where playing through tears he won one for his Dad throwing four touchdowns in a 41-7 rout as every pass seemed to find a receiver, snowball fighting on the field in his 2007 playoff win over the Seahawks, leading the youthful Jets to an improbable 34-13 victory of the previously undefeated Titans at Tennessee in Week 12 of 2008 season while completing an NFL weekly high of 70.6% of his passes, taking on Warren Sapp after sacks, blocking on end-around plays downfield, and numerous other stories — because one day your grandchildren are going to ask you, “Was Brett Favre really that good?”
All I know is…Favre better not change his mind before this article is published!
Good Luck Brett riding off into the sunset on your tractor and please stick with staying on your farm.
Now I can happily direct my keyboard to a bunch of other NFL related topics that have nothing to do with an aging legend changing his mind as the wind blows.
Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)
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