Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Please Release Me, Let Me Go

Quarterback Brett Favre retired from professional football in early March of this year after a 17-year career that lifted him to legendary status. After beginning his career as a backup for the Atlanta Falcons in the 1991 season, Favre was traded to Green Bay where he became an icon for the Packers franchise. He led the team to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances following the 1996 & 1997 seasons, winning the NFL title in a 35-21 victory over the New England Patriots in January 2007 at the Superdome in New Orleans. Favre threw for over 61,000 yards and tossed 442 touchdown passes in his career, and was still going strong at the end. Last season, in his 17th year at the age of 38, Favre threw for over 4,000 yards for the 5th time in his career. He had a 28-15 touchdown to interception ratio, and a quarterback rating of 95.7 to finish among the league leaders. Perhaps more amazing than all of his statistical and team accomplishments is that fact that, at one of the most vulnerable positions on the field, Favre has started and played every game for the past 15+ seasons. In short, Brett Favre is simply one of the top handful of quarterbacks to ever play the game. He takes a back seat to no one in performance or reputation. After retiring, Favre relaxed for a few months and then, as many athletes do, he began to have second thoughts. His body felt good, his mind felt good, and he decided that he actually did want to return for the 2008 season. He began to send out 'feelers' through various channels to let folks close to him and the team know of his feelings. Problems began when he began to receive responses that were lukewarm at best. The fact was that the Packers were coming off a strong season, and did not want to take a step back with Favre retiring. They had handed the starting QB position to Favre's understudy, 25-year old Aaron Rodgers, and had turned the organizational page on the Favre era. As Favre's desire and determination to come back grew, and the approach of NFL training camps draws near, the quarterback solidified his requests, and the Packers, realizing that he was serious, began to address the situation on a practical level. The player wants to come back and play. The team has moved on, but is not prepared to just give away a valuable asset. In this situation, after all that Brett Favre has meant to and accomplished for the Green Bay Packers franchise over the past decade and a half, the team should release him outright and allow him to play out his career with another team. If the Pack management was willing to bring him back and guarantee that he would retain his starting position, that would be the only other viable and fair option. But they have stated their position, that they have moved on and that Rodgers is their man. So let the legend go. He will always be a Packer, will always be remembered as such, will always be a hero in the community and in the annals of the team. But rather than have the situation get ugly, the best solution would be for the Packers to release Favre, wish him all the best wherever he decides to play, and then do what they say they want to do, turn the page. Brett Favre has certainly earned that much respect, as much as anyone who has ever played the game.

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