Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Will He or Won't He?

As I have mentioned before, I've been a Packers fan since I was a little boy.

Consequently, for some 15 years, I was a big fan of Brett Favre. He did what no one had done since I was a child — take the Packers to a Super Bowl. And he did it in back–to–back seasons.

Along with being a Packers fan, I'm just a fan of football in general. When I see someone having as much fun as Favre had playing for the Packers — and then for the Jets and then, even for the loathed division rival Vikings — it reminds me of when I was a kid.

It's hard not to have fun watching someone else have that much fun.

But, writes Jay Glazer for FOX Sports, that fun might be coming to an end.

Glazer reports that a "source" has said Favre (who turned 40 last fall) is going to retire.

Given his history, though, what can you believe? This is the third summer that Favre has lapsed into his Hamlet shtick. The first two times, he came out of retirement and played — pretty well, too, for a man in his age bracket.

It is the perpetual drama of Brett Favre in recent years. He is an exciting — but flawed — quarterback to watch who long ago reached the age when most pro athletes are thinking about hanging it up. I've seen some who just couldn't accept the verdict of nature at first, but they became persuaded when they realized they weren't capable of what they once were.

Favre's problem is that he thinks these thoughts, but he can't bring himself to follow through on them. And I suspect that the main reason is he is a freak of nature. Even at the age of 40, he was still capable of putting up impressive numbers. Perhaps they weren't quite as gaudy as they had been when he was winning MVP awards, but they were numbers that many quarterbacks half his age would envy.

Not to mention the fact that he damn near got to the Super Bowl again. And I suspect that, if he had, we might not be having this conversation. Because, if he had made it to the Super Bowl at the age of 40, I think he would have retired, win or lose.

But he came up short, just like he did two years earlier in his final game with Green Bay. That's just too tantalizingly frustrating for a guy like Favre. He is not the sort who tends to be satisfied with making it to the conference championship game.

Glazer insists, though, that "this is the strongest indication yet that the legendary quarterback could, in fact, retire for good."

Maybe so. Not everyone agrees, though — and, at this stage, it's probably wise to be skeptical of any suggestions from anyone that Favre's career is, indeed, over.

But, if it is, the Vikings seem likely to face a problem I wrote about last year — a crisis of confidence among the quarterbacks who remain.

Actually, on that occasion, I was agreeing with something that Sports Illustrated's Peter King had written: "I'd have waited until [quarterback] Sage Rosenfels struggled — if he struggled — and then made the call to Favre. By doing it now, [head coach Brad] Childress loses Rosenfels and [quarterback] Tarvaris Jackson; how can they ever trust anything he says now?"

The problem was deferred — but now, having to deal with it may be unavoidable. Jackson only got a handful of snaps in relief of Favre last season. A year he could have spent polishing his skills was squandered, and, unlike Favre, Jackson (who turned 27 in the offseason) has never seemed like the kind of quarterback for whom time was on his side.

So far in training camp, he's reportedly taken most of the snaps with the first team, which may be a sign the Vikings are trying to prepare him to take Favre's place. Too little too late?

I'm inclined to think the Vikings will pay a price for rolling the dice on Favre last season and will slip from the lofty 12–4 regular–season record (and relatively easy 5–1 mark in their division) they had last year.

If Favre calls it quits, I look for the NFC North to be more competitive in 2010.

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