That’s right: no if; no and; no but. Just a simple, declarative question: where will Brett Favre end up signing and playing midseason?
Yesterday, Brett Favre announced publicly what the Vikings have apparently known for a little over a week now. According to 1310 The Ticket in Dallas while I was driving in this morning, Favre told the Vikings ten days ago that he was having severe second thoughts about a return, at which point Vikings coaches and key players put the “full court press” on him in an effort to convince him to reconsider.
How’s that for confidence in Sagevaris Jacksonfels!?
But alas, Favre decided that the daily grind was too much for him. So after another offseason of constant Favre speculation, we head into the 2009 season with no Brett Favre, no John Madden, and complete confidence in the fact that at least one of them will actually stay retired.
As I said when he retired, we’ll miss you John Madden.
As for Favre? Well, I don’t think you can blame any NFL observer for not being 100% sure that #4 is actually hanging up the cleats for good. Perhaps if he’d given an emphatic, no-wiggle-room, fist-pounding “I’m done, that’s it, it’s over” we could all move on (or not). But of course he didn’t. Here is what Favre said to ESPN’s Ed Werder:
“It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made,” Favre said. “I didn’t feel like physically I could play at a 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,” Favre said. “They were telling me, ‘You went through all this, you had the surgery and you’ve got to finish it off.’ But I have legitimate reasons for my decision. I’m 39 with a lot of sacks to my name.” [Editor’s note: But does this one really count?]
It is telling that in the same post in which he relayed the quotes above, that PFT’s Mike Florio actually spends more time speculating about the very real possibility — because it is Brett Favre after all — that this will end up being just another retirement false start:
So what’s next for Favre?Â Â If/when another high-profile quarterback blows out an ACL, like Tom Brady did in Week One of the 2008 season,Â things could get interesting.
The later it happens in the year, the more interesting it’ll would be, given that with each passing week the grind that Favre would face over the balance of the year will shrink.
Things could getÂ even more interesting ifÂ the guy who goes down for the year is named “Aaron Rodgers.”
And if it happens in December, with the Packers in the hunt for the NFC North title. Â
And lest you think such speculation is all hogwash and tomfoolery, there is this, also courtesy of my favorite NFL site:
Favre told Mariucci that he was retired, but he’s going to keep throwing and continue to work out.Â (NFL Network’s Scott Hanson relayed the news on televisionÂ and his Twitter account.)Â Â
When Mariucci asked how Favre would feel about his decision Wednesday morning, Favre reportedly said, “I’m wondering that myself.”
Oh, and then there is this, just posted a few minutes ago for those of you who feel like stepping even further into the speculation and rumor mill churn:
Amid mounting evidence that Brett Favre is interested in playing football if he can find a way to shorten the season as it applies to him, there are some in the Vikings organization who are convinced that Favre will attempt to join the team after the first two weeks of training camp.
But surely Brett Favre, the simple country boy with the faded Wranglers and the tractor, wouldn’t make a public declaration with the intention of gaining leverage for his own future means, right? No, surely not.
So can we all at least agree that the only thing we really know after Favre’s announcement yesterday is that he isn’t reporting to the Vikings today? Because, honestly and realistically, that’s all we know. And if you think any differently, my only question is where the hell have you been for the last five or so NFL offseasons?
Thus, I will now attempt to do what some may call a waste of time but what most NFL fans (at least those who are not totally sick of the Favre saga) will understand is a very worthwhile endeavor: attempt to handicap where Brett Favre will end up signing midseason.
Think about it:
- Favre had the necessary arm surgery and every report has indicated that he’s throwing well.
- It is well documented that he’s not a big fan of training camp, and as a 40-year old QB he is too old to go through the rigors of an entire NFL season.
- The Vikings and Favre have to realize that a QB his age has never played a full season and led a team to a Super Bowl title. And that is the only goal for both in this entire flirtation. Is it possible that both are sandbagging so that Favre can come in fresh near midseason, have enough gas to play well down the stretch (like he did through the first half of last season), but avoid at least some of the internal and external scrutiny of Favre not being at camp and/or as committed to non-gameday stuff as the rest of the team?
Seriously, think long and hard about that last one. Favre’s friend and old offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell is running the Vikings offense. And Favre is an improvisor and someone who is notorious for doing his own thing on the field anyway. Would it really require that much preparation for him to be able to provide more value and spark at the QB position than Sagevaris Jacksonfels? Besides, he’d have a great running game and a great D to lean on while he worked out some rust over a few games.
That is why the handicapping for where Favre will end up signing midseason begins, and nearly ends, with the Vikings.
Minnesota Vikings – 2:1
First, take a look at the Vikings schedule:
- Week 4: vs Green Bay
- Week 5: @ St. Louis
- Week 6: vs Baltimore
- Week 7: @ Pittsburgh
- Week 8: @ Green Bay
- Week 9: BYE
- Week 10: vs Detroit
- Week 11: vs Seattle
- Week 12: vs Chicago
- Week 13: @ Arizona
- Week 14: vs Cincinnati
- Week 15: @ Carolina
- Week 16: @ Chicago
- Week 17: vs New York Giants
If he comes back during the Vikings’ bye week, for instance, Favre achieves all of the following:
- Misses all of the training camp and the preseason while he continues throwing and building up his arm strength.
- Keeps his body fresh and would only have to play a maximum of 12 games, if the Vikings were a Wild Card team and ultimately made a four-game Super Bowl run.
- He would avoid the toughest two-game stretch of defenses the Vikings face this season: Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
- He would come back for three straight home games against teams whose defenses were porous last year: Detroit, Seattle, and Chicago.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY: He would avoid having to play Green Bay. I know that people have said part of his reasoning for coming back would be to stick it to the Packers, but I really don’t think Favre wanted to play in Lambeau wearing purple. He may be selfish and self-obsessed, but he appreciates the support of Packers fans. Even though he’s not fond of Ted Thompson or Mike McCarthy, I can’t see him actually enjoying being a visitor in Lambeau. This is purely speculation on my part, but I can’t imagine I’m that far off base.
Honestly, if I were the Vikings and Favre, and seriously considering a one-year marriage in the hopes that it would lead to a fruitful postseason, I think this scenario is actually far more advantageous than Favre trying to make a go of it from the beginning. He’s too old and would break down like he did last year. In this scenario, however, Favre achieves everything I laid out above while the Vikings get the first eight weeks of the season to see if Sagevaris can actually lead the team competently. And we pretty much know how that will turn out.
If the Vikings are 6-2 or 7-1, maybe the Favre flirtation ends. If they’re 4-4 or 5-3, they can bring in a fresh Favre to give their season a shot in the arm. Their second half schedule is not all that tough — hell, Sagevaris might even be able to get them into the playoffs down the stretch — but I think we can confidently say that Sagevaris is not winning playoff games against good teams. A fresh Favre, however, very well could.
The more I get into this, the more it all makes sense.
Green Bay Packers – 7:2
It is important to note before delving into this one that Favre, quite obviously, would only be an option if Aaron Rodgers were to get hurt. But every season we see teams lose their starting QB to injury, so it’s not like Rodgers going down is out of the question. Where would the Packers turn if they did lose Rodgers? Their current backups are second-year guys Matt Flynn and Brian Brohm, neither of whom have taken a meaningful NFL snap. Where’s the Majik Man when you need him?
The reality of this season for Green Bay, however, is that they have to win. After making it within minutes of the Super Bowl two years ago with Favre, the Packers fell flat on their faces last year despite strong stats from Rodgers. Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy will always be known as the guys who chose Aaron Rodgers over Brett Favre (regardless of Favre’s culpability in the whole ordeal), and that is a primary reason why fan patience will be limited.
And as big an ego as Favre has, and as much as he loves reveling in the fawning of his adoring fans, how could he possibly turn down the opportunity to run onto Lambeau field, donning his old #4, to perhaps the greatest fan ovation in the history of sports? I realize that he has beef with Thompson and McCarthy, but Favre loves him some him and would love the love that would be showered down upon him if he came galloping in on a white horse to save the Packers season.
Because this one is contingent on an injury, and on Thompson swallowing his own massive pride and ego, the odds have to be lower than Favre playing for the Vikings; but if Rodgers ends up going down, the odds become a hell of a lot closer.
The rest of these are all pretty unlikely, but in the Not For Long NFL coaches and GMs will make desperate decisions to save seasons…and their jobs. For Favre to play for a team other than the Vikings or Packers, the following criteria all have to be in place:
- Teams whose fans and ownership expect to win now.
- Teams with enough talent to be legitimate playoff contenders, otherwise Favre wouldn’t bother.
- Coaches/GMs on the hot seat who might be compelled to make a desperate move if their teams struggle out of the gate.
- Teams without young, high draft choice QBs waiting in the wings behind the starter.
- Note: I realize that there are salary cap implications too, because Favre would not come back and play for nothing. Here is an old post at AskTheCommish.com from January detailing each team’s salary cap situation at that time. These numbers will obviously be different now, but it’s at least a gauge of what could be possible.
Houston Texans – 25:1
Obviously if Matt Schaub stays healthy, this one isn’t happening. But if he gets hurt…as he always does…the Texans only have Dan Orlovsky and some dude named Alex Brink as backups. Houston has been a “team on the rise” for a couple of years now, and both ownership and the fan base are itching for potential to be turned into playoff appearances. With Indy and Jacksonville both appearing more vulnerable than usual this year, another 8-8 close call might not be enough to save Gary Kubiak’s job. And you have to think that Favre would be enticed by the possibility of throwing to Andre Johnson, one of the best WRs in the NFL. Houston also has lots of cap space to be able to throw a bunch of $$$ Favre’s way for a partial season.
Carolina Panthers – 25:1
Jake Delhomme is coming off one of the worst playoff performances by a QB in NFL history. John Fox is also feeling a little bit of heat after the team flamed out at home against Arizona last year and has been inconsistent since their Super Bowl run. This is a team that still has a lot of talent, but one that always seems to fall a little bit short when expectations are high. Sitting behind Delhomme currently are Josh McNown and Matt Moore, neither of whom are looked at as QBs of the future.
What happens if Delhomme struggles out of the gate? He’s pretty much used up all of the goodwill he built in leading the Panthers to the Super Bowl earlier this decade. Delhomme also is not the most durable QB, having played only 41 games over the past three seasons (he missed time in 2006 and 2007).
After a strong regular season last year, the Panthers expect to win. They also have a very strong running game, plus Steve Smith to throw to, which would have to be enticing for Favre.
Jacksonville Jaguars – 45:1
The Jags were awful last year and Jack Del Rio is feeling the heat. Plus, one of the main reasons Jacksonville struggled (in addition to all of the O-Line injuries) was inconsistency at the QB position. After signing David Garrard to a big contract, the team expected more out of its field general. Make no mistake: this is Garrard’s team, and he would have to get hurt to be benched (or be REALLY awful), but all Jacksonville has behind him are Cleo Lemon and Paul Smith.
But you know the Jags can smell blood with all of the turnover in Indy, and this is still a team that has some solid players on defense and the explosive MJD in the backfield. Â Plus,Â Jack Del Rio has proven that he’s not afraid to make bold decisions at the QB position, which is why Garrard is the starter now in the first place. If Garrard goes down, or sucks badly, Del Rio and the Jags won’t be able to just sit back and endure another losing season with terrible attendance…especially in this economy.
I’m not sure if Favre would really consider Jacksonville a Super Bowl contender, especially in the AFC, but if the Jags get off to a decent start and he’s really itching to play, then I think you have to at least consider this one within the realm of possibility no matter how unlikely.
Washington Redskins – 100:1
They don’t have much cap space and have a guy in Jason Campbell that everyone in the organization wants to succeed. Plus, Todd Collins proved to be a capable backup in case Campbell is ineffective or gets hurt. There honestly is no logical reason why the Redskins would even be in any Favre sweepstakes, except for one fact: Daniel Snyder runs his team like a fantasy football owner…and he’s desperate to win. With an enticing possibility like Favre out there on the “waiver wire” you cannot discount even something as head-scratching as this would be. It’s the longest shot for a reason, but look me in the eye right now and tell me that you’d be that shocked if it happened.
Ultimately, here is what I think:
- Brett Favre broke down around midseason last year and understands that his body can’t take a full NFL season with training camp, preseason games, and a 16-game schedule. Plus, he hates everything but gameday. So he’s not coming back right now this very second.
- However, Favre has worked this offseason to get into playing shape, and still loves Sundays…and will miss them even more once the season starts and he’s twiddling his thumbs on his tractor. He’s even reportedly stated that he’s going to keep throwing.
- If the right situation comes along midseason, he won’t be able to say no: to Sundays; to the chance for one last run at Elway-like glory; to the money; and to the attention that another comeback would bring him.
If you told me right now that I had to bet my entire savings account (despite it’s miniscule size) on whether Favre will come back at some point this season or not, I would bet that he does. For now, we can enjoy a momentary reprieve from the constantÂ Favre speculation…but the speculation is not over, because Favre does not want it — or his NFL career — to be over.
He just wants to come back his way and on his terms.
Truth be told, it is probably much more prudent for the old graybeard to do it this way. He does not want a repeat of his late-season flameout from 2008, nor does whatever team he plays for. I say he still ends up with the Vikings at some point this season. Now we just have to wait and see.
Update: Just caught this in Peter King’s latest column:
There’s no sense in asking the question about whether this is it for Favre. He said he was finished 17 months ago in Green Bay, and he insisted he was finished five months ago after leaving the Jets. Even he knows his gut feeling can’t be trusted right now.
“Very unlikely,” he said. “I really believe this is it. I truly, truly believe it’s over. But if someone calls Nov. 1, who knows?”
That’s the maddening part of Favre, and the part that makes fans hate his waffling. The fact that he’ll keep throwing the ball at Oak Grove (Miss.) High, just down the street from his home, and continue working out is going to fan the flames that he’s not done. He knows that. “I’ll toss the ball around, but I ain’t tossing it to keep in shape to play,” he said.
What do you think?
* – Brett Favre throwing photo credit: AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis via the Washington Post
* – Brett Favre in Lambeau photo credit: Sun-Times blogs
* – Brett Favre out of focus photo credit: Rick Chapman photography