JEFF: The New Spygate
By Jeff Falconio
Well, after 10 months the NFL finally doesn't have to worry about Spygate anymore. There's a new dark cloud hovering around the league and it is isolated right over Green Bay, Wisconsin. This is the story that won't go away any time soon and appears headed for an ugly ending. How will the Brett Favre saga end? Will the Packers grant Favre's wish and release him? Will he be traded to an AFC team willing to give up at least a first round pick? Will he return in green and gold, albeit in a backup role?
This is going to get real ugly for both the Packers and Favre. At least for now, nothing has changed since the spring. Favre is retired and Aaron Rodgers is the starting quarterback for the Packers. The next step for Favre is to send a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell requesting that he be reinstated. At that point the Packers have made it clear that Favre will be activated and will join the team.
But then what? Basically, there are three options. Option one is the Packers comply with Favre and release him. This is the most unlikely scenario. Do you really think Ted Thompson will allow Favre to walk away and get nothing in return? If Favre is released he would be free to sign with any team. That means Favre could join Chicago or Detroit. Worse yet, he could end up in Minnesota or Tampa Bay who, aside from being 2008 opponents for the Packers, would become legitimate Super Bowl contenders. There is no way that will happen.
That brings us to option number two, the Packers trade Favre. Not surprising, this would also be an unlikely scenario. Favre has three years left on his contract and he's owed a lot of money, so any team that trades for Favre would most likely have to go through the sticky process of re-negotiating Favre's contract. Of course, the Packers would have the chance to pick where Favre goes but will he accept the trade? Will he really want to go to a place like Miami or Kansas City where the re-building process is underway? Not likely. Favre will want to go to a team that has a legitimate shot at the playoffs. Furthermore, the Packers won't trade Favre to an NFC team unless the deal is too good to pass up. The Packers will also likely ask for at least a first round pick. When San Francisco traded Joe Montana, the 49ers received a first round pick so there's a bit of precedent there. So it comes down to an up-and-coming AFC team with a shot at the playoffs, plenty of money under the cap and draft picks to give away. Hello, Buffalo Bills. The truth is, the Packers and Favre probably won't see eye-to-eye on legitimate suitors.
Option three: the Packers activate Favre and welcome him back...as an understudy. The Packers are now fully engulfed in the PFE (Post Favre Era) and are committed to Rodgers. That means Rodgers starts and Favre will be the one holding the clipboard. In other words, the guy who could most likely lead the Packers to the Super Bowl will sit on the bench. This is the dictionary definition of PR disaster. What happens if Rodgers struggles in his first few starts? Worse yet, what if Rodgers gets hurt and Favre, ever the durable one, comes in and does better than A-Rodg? So go ahead and start Favre. But what message does that send to other players, especially Rodgers? It would appear the Packers would be going back on their word and it would set a dangerous precedent where a player, and not the front office, would be making personnel decisions. Wow, talk about ugly.
The only way out of this mess is for Favre to do nothing. If he doesn't sent a letter to the league then the Packers won't be forced into one of three ugly scenarios. The Packers move ahead without Favre and Favre can finally ride off in the sunset. But much like Spygate, this story will not go away quickly or quietly.