This column will continue my goal of talking about current events, although this week I’ll be delving into the wide world of sports.
One of the biggest sports stories of the summer has been the retirement (or lack thereof) of Brett Favre and the growing rift between the All-Pro quarterback and the Green Bay Packers. This story is getting a lot of media coverage because 1) football is the most popular sport in the nation, 2) Brett Favre is a household name and 3) talented athletes not wanting to retire is an easy way to generate debate.
The debate in this case is basically whether the Packers should scrap their plans for having Aaron Rodgers start as quarterback next season (and, ideally, for many seasons to come) and have Brett Favre come back, or hold their current position of “Uhh, no thanks, Brett.”
Normally, anyone would be hard pressed to conceive of a scenario in which their football team would be better off without a three-time MVP who currently holds pretty much every passing record, but the current scenario fits the bill.
Aaron “The Future” Rodgers has been patiently sitting on the bench since the Packers drafted him in 2005, and by all accounts, has been progressing quite nicely given his lack of playing time. Moreover, since Favre announced his retirement this March, the entire team has been adjusting to the mindset of having a new starting quarterback come Sept. 8.
The Packers have taken the correct approach to dealing with the situation: allowing Favre to come back as a backup and not releasing him or trading him to another team. Letting him come back and start for the team now would be a huge mistake and would ruin team chemistry for the entire season (and send the message that a single petulant player has more power than the organization itself).
If Favre is frustrated with the current situation, he has only himself to blame.
In late March, after Favre had announced his retirement, the Packers made it clear that if he changed his mind (as many expected him to) they would welcome him back into the fold. Instead of seizing on this golden opportunity, Favre announced at a second press conference that he would indeed stay retired.
Favre, due to his ability, playful nature on the field and “Aww, shucks” attitude during interviews, has enjoyed an unprecedented level of popularity among the media, seemingly able to do no wrong. Green Bay fans have constantly embraced him despite his well-chronicled off-field issues (drug rehab) and his on-field shenanigans (most interceptions ever, including one in last year’s NFC championship that cost the Packers the game).
Judging by fan reaction to the retirement fiasco, though, he appears to have squandered much of this goodwill. Of the teeming thousands of Packers fans living in Wisconsin, a recent pro-Brett rally held outside Lambeau Field drew only 230. A similar event in Milwaukee drew only 30. A post about the issue on deadspin.com drew 197 comments, 195 of which expressed disillusionment, weariness or outright negativity towards Favre.
Loving the game is commendable, but one wishes that aging sports stars would know when to hang it up. Nobody wants to see Johnny Unitas of the Chargers, Michael Jordan the Wizard or Willie Mays as a Met. The Packers, fortunately, have Favre signed through 2010, making it difficult for him to become a Viking unless the Packers allow it (which they shouldn’t).
As a Packer fan myself, I wish Favre would wake up and smell the sauerkraut.
If he wants to do what’s best for the team, he should quiet down and fade away.
RICHARD PROCTER really, really hopes the Watchmen trailer he saw at The Dark Knight premier (awesome!) is indicative of a quality adaptation. E-mail him your thoughts about Watchmen, this column or life in general at firstname.lastname@example.org.