Well, You Already Said Spite So...
By Jeff Falconio
In my world, I always try to connect real life events with events from my all-time favorite TV show "Seinfeld." So when Brett Favre retired for the second time, my thoughts immediately turned to Jerry and the gang. Remember the episode where Jerry wanted to return a crested blazer out of spite? The store manager wouldn't allow it because you can't return an item out of spite.
As Favre proved in 2008, you can't play in the NFL out of spite either. You have to be all in, 100% every week. Favre did not look like he wanted to be on the field in December and with his bicep injury it is clear that Favre didn't have it either physically or mentally by season's end. Sure, he could gut it out again, as he always has, but he's 39 now and even for the great ones age eventually catches up to you.
But before he walks off the stage again Favre slung a bit more mud at Ted Thompson. So as we once again mentally prepare for life after Favre, the question is: did Favre hurt his legacy? The 2008 season almost seemed like a microcosm of Favre's entire career. It started wild, Favre looked like it was 1992 with a miracle last-gasp touchdown in week one against Miami. Then Favre elevated his game with a six touchdown performance against Arizona, reminiscent of the monster numbers he put up in his MVP years. Next came the big win against Tennessee, propelling the Jets to the top of the heap, leading many to believe New York was Super Bowl bound, much like the Packers were in Favre's heyday. But ultimately as the year wore down Favre couldn't quite get over the hump, eerily similar to the season-ending disappointments Favre suffered in the twilight of his career.
His numbers were down from 2007 but he didn't look like an embarrassment. Yes, it was painful to watch at times but Favre didn't inflict any damage to his status at one of the top five greats at quarterback. But did he tarnish his image as last summer's nasty divorce from the Packers unfolded? Once again there was a bit of mudslinging from the old gunslinger himself. Shipped to Siberia? Come on Brett, the Jets have made the playoffs four times from 2001 to 2006. Detroit is the NFL's Siberia, not New York. Favre stated New York was suitable for the Packers because they knew the Jets wouldn't be as good as the Pack. Reality is, even before Favre arrived the Jets were pegged for a bounce back year. Remember, New York made significant moves in the offseason by picking up Alan Faneca to shore up a porous offensive line. New York also acquired Calvin Pace and Kris Jenkins (as an aside, while watching Favre all year did you pay attention to that 3-4 the Jets ran? They needed a true nose guard and linebacker depth, thus the need to make the moves).
Favre also said another reason why the Packers traded him to the Jets is because the two teams wouldn't meet in 2008. Again, come on man. The NFL is fun but it's a business, like any other business. Of course the Packers were not going to release him so he could go anywhere and of course they wouldn't trade him to an NFC team. That makes no business sense. Favre is a veteran and he has witnessed several players unceremoniously cut because that's what happens in a business like the NFL. He should know better.
It seemed like an unnecessary re-hashing of old wounds. As the saying goes, people remember the last thing you did. Favre proved that himself by singling out Thomas Jones and Kerry Rhodes, both critical of Favre after the season ended, in his farewell. The 2008 trade was mishandled by both sides but what's done is done, why go there one more time?
The Packers stated yesterday that they remain committed to retiring Favre's number...when the time is appropriate. If Favre is truly done and he doesn't resurface during training camp, wouldn't the appropriate time be at halftime of the 2009 home opener? How much did Favre hurt his image though this whole ordeal? If in the future Favre changes his mind and forgives Thompson and the Packers, you can only hope the team won't respond the way the store manager did to Jerry, "you said spite...too late."