On Wednesday, Green Bay Packers' President Mark Murphy joined team general manager, Ted Thompson, and head coach, Mike McCarthy, in adding to what has been the on-going ineptitude of the Green Bay Packers in handling Brett Favre's attempt to play football in 2008.
The simple solution all along for Green Bay would have been simply to allow Favre to compete with Aaron Rodgers for the starting quarterback position, acknowledging--if only for the benefit of soothing Favre's ego--that Favre entered the competition as the presumptive favorite. No mention need have been made about the team's desire to move forward or the team's purported attempts to gauge Favre's interest in returning several months ago. All would have been water under the bridge. And if Favre did not like how that sounded, the Packers could have left to him the media circus, gracefully bowing out of any discussions regarding a player under contract and on the roster.
Instead, the Packers opted to call out Favre, apparently believing that the future hall-of-famer, a player who honed his skills and made his name solely as a member of the Packers, would never agree to put on any other team's uniform. Clearly, the Packers were wrong in that assessment.
Once this error in judgment became evident, once Thompson and Murphy were clear that Favre had every intention of playing again in 2008, and, possibly, beyond, the Packers still had the option of having Favre go through training camp with a shot to be the starting quarterback. It would have been a no-lose situation for the team. If Favre faltered, as, apparently, McCarthy and Thompson are expecting him to do, it would have been clear to all that it was time to move on--even if Aaron Rodgers did not, himself, particularly shine.
Conversely, were Favre to have shone in pre-season, the Packers could have swallowed their pride and re-inserted him as the starting quarterback for a team that arguably could use his abilities this season.
Instead, the Packers appear intent on passing on what appears to be the most sensible solution to their Favre "problem."
To make matters worse--to put a fine point on the ineptitude that has signaled the Packers' handling of this situation--Murphy reportedly flew to Mississippi yesterday, spending nearly the entire day attempting to get Favre to accept $20 million from the team. Murphy's offer was not, however, designed to encourage Favre to return to Green Bay, but to entice the already wealthy quarterback not to return to the NFL. How absurd. How stunningly amateurish.
As McCarthy and Thompson clearly failed to grasp about Favre's ego in the face of dictates that the quarterback would be welcome back to Green Bay only in the capacity of a back-up to Rodgers, Murphy seems even more unable to grasp Favre's motivation for returning. What might once have been merely a point of curiosity for an aging veteran hoping to rekindle some of his youthful play, Favre's impending return to the NFL surely is now motivated even more by a desire to show Thompson and McCarthy the error of their ways. And none of this ever had anything to do with money--at least not for Favre.
The final fatal error in Green Bay's handling of Favre's request to return to the NFL rests in what Green Bay will now be required to do to resolve the situation. If the Packers are intent on not allowing Favre to compete for the starting quarterback position--a decision that appears to be a fait accompli--they have only two options remaining. They must either release the quarterback or eat his salary for the next three seasons.
Thompson has already made clear that the Packers will do what is most expeditious for the team in business terms--something that Thompson clearly measures in the form of only two assets, money and players. That might overlook the tarnish that this whole affair has put on the Packers' organization, but that appears to be the direction in which the organization is determined to sail.
Had Thompson remained silent or more appropriately couched his sentiments when speaking to reporters, he might still have some options. Instead, he ensured that the Packers would have limited trading partners by revealing that the Packers and Favre would have to agree on a possible suitor; then he revealed that Favre essentially had a no trade clause; and, most recently, he has let it be known that the Packers might be moved to trade Favre to a division rival, "if push comes to shove."
The problem for Thompson is that push came to shove long ago. Now, with every other team in the league in both the Packers' deepest wishes for Favre and Favre's deepest desires regarding for whom he will play in 2008, the Packers have virtually zero options. Now, the team must either keep Favre or let him walk. . . to Minnesota. That's something that every team in the league, including Minnesota, fully understands. And that means that, should Thompson miraculously cajole the Vikings into giving up something for Favre, it will be far less than he could have obtained from the Vikings before he opened his mouth in this saga.
On Thursday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell delayed for one day a decision regarding whether to reinstate Favre. The purpose of the delay is largely a face-saving opportunity for the Packers. Once reinstated, the Packers will have 24 hours either to activate Favre or release him. If the team does neither, it will be presumed to have released him.
Goodell's decision to delay a ruling on Favre's petition for reinstatement means that the Packers, who had lobbied for the delay to avoid having Favre show up at training camp on Friday, likely will make a decision on Favre before next Monday. Having already been rebuffed on a $20 million offer for him not to play football again, there is little reason to believe that the Packers will do anything other than release Favre over the weekend.
Up Next: Move over TJ?