Friday, August 08, 2008

Favre Saga Ends With Nobody Better Off

Barring further developments, the Brett Favre saga has come to a crashing halt with nobody the better for the sequence of events leading to the result or for the result itself. By accepting a trade to the New York Jets, Favre finds himself on a team now good enough to finish second in the AFC East, the Packers are without the player that they needed to have any shot at returning to the Super Bowl, and everyone is worse off for the experience.

On Tuesday, Favre left the Packers' training camp after several long discussions with Packers' head coach Mike McCarthy. McCarthy emerged from the meetings stating that Aaron Rodgers would be the Packers' starting quarterback in 2008. Favre left stating that it was time to move on.

Following the meetings with McCarthy, Favre clearly had the Packers in a corner. Unwilling to return Favre to the starter's role in 2008, the Packers desperately hoped that Favre would not again take the field in Green Bay, rightfully fearing that he would be a divisive distraction from their intended plan of starting Rodgers and riding out the rough spots with their untested former first-round draft choice.

Green Bay's panic, evident in every move made and word uttered by team officials in the past three weeks, seemed fully evident to Favre prior to Wednesday. It seemed that Favre understood, by his own words and actions, that, by merely showing for practice, he eventually could have forced Green Bay to deal him to a team of his choice rather than to one of their own choosing.

Apparently, that assessment of Favre was incorrect. Or Favre wilted.

After several days of insisting that he would not accept a trade to the cap-tight Jets--a trade that required restructuring of Favre's contract--Favre relented. The deal sent him to New York for conditional future considerations tied to the Jets' performance in 2008. In common language, that means "probably not much."

For the Packers to obtain any compensation for Favre is a small coup, given their utter lack of leverage in the situation. But that compensation pales in comparison to the public relations hit that the organization has taken for its amateurish handling of the affair and the backlash that the organization will face if Rodgers fails as a starter this year.

Favre, meanwhile, ends up improbably worse off than the Packers, playing for a team for which he had no desire to play just three days ago, in a market nowhere near his beloved home, and probably without any shot ever to play against his former team. If starting for a mediocre team with no hope of winning its own Conference was Favre's objective in returning to the NFL, he fooled many people in the last few weeks in finally obtaining this goal. If starting for a Super Bowl contender was his ambition, that ambition has been shot down--by his own hand.

Outside of Favre and Green Bay, the biggest loser in this sorry saga could well be the Minnesota Vikings. Though the Vikings now will be forced to determine what they have in Tarvaris Jackson, they will need results in the short term, rather than in the long term, to mesh with some of the veteran talent that likely will be gone within the next three years. That means that the Vikings' quarterback will have to produce in 2008. And while that's possible, it seemed much more probable with Favre at the helm.

Having to stay with Jackson is the good news for the Vikings in the wake of Favre's acquiescence to be traded to the Jets, however. The horrible news would be if the Vikings showed a weakness for yet another veteran quarterback by signing the recently released Jet, Chad Pennington. The last thing the Vikings need is a weak-armed quarterback that cannot stretch the field. Even for Vikings' fans who myopically considered Jackson a better option than Favre, there should be no doubt that Pennington is no better than a poor-man's Brooks Bollinger.

Up Next: Pre-Season.

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