Thursday, July 31, 2008

Snatching Victory....???

In what appears to be a tremendous sigh of relief for Favre and Packer fans alike, Tom Silverstein decided to clarify the whole "$20 million bribe" rumor his JS Online blog started yesterday.

(Incidentally, at what point is JS Online going to get smacked down for feeding us incomplete or incorrect information? This is two firestorms they have started in a week's time, between the phone and the bribe....yeesh!)

Anyway, according to Silverstein,

An NFL source who wanted the Packers' side to be explained, said Murphy first proposed a 10-year formal relationship with Favre in March after the quarterback's retirement and did not first bring it up during his nine-hour visit to Hattiesburg Thursday. There were occasional talks about it between March and June before Favre started making noise about wanting to return to football.

Murphy, the source said, decided that with the two sides at an impasse to meet with Favre face-to-face to finalize a post-retirement deal. He told Favre and Cook that the deal was on the table regardless if Favre decided to come back.

"He felt it was important to let Brett know face to face that he was serious about a long-term relationship regardless of his intentions to play football," the source said. "Regardless of how it was interpreted, it was a continuation of a discussion in March to formalize a long-term relationship."

So, there we are! All is good! Right?

Well, for the most part, though there are still some things that need to be worked out. In order to collect this deal, he has to be retired, otherwise the money goes against the salary cap. So, this deal, originally brought up in March, was done with the thought that Favre was already retired and this would segue a role for him.

It's interesting, though, that this is re-brought up now. Essentially, according to the NFL source speaking for the Packers, this is going to offered to Favre regardless of whether or not he comes back. The implication may be that he could go play a year for the Vikings, and that deal takes effect when he retires.

Now, I'm not sure that's how it will all play out. IF Favre were to go to the Vikings and have success there, I'm not sure the Packers (or their fans) would be in the mood to welcome back the Vikings hero as their own hero. So, there is a lot that goes into reiterating this deal to Favre that seems to suggest "stay retired".

This is as much a tug on Favre's realization of his own legacy as it is on his pocketbook. And, it is probably a smart move on Murphy's part, though I don't buy the idea that some are selling, that this proves that "The Packers have always had Favre's best interest at heart." Make no doubt this is being done with the Packer administration's and Aaron Rodgers' best interests at heart first and foremost.

There is still the point that Favre wants to play, and the Packers are unwilling to allow him to join their camp. They have also, with Favre's help, prolonged any moves to trade him. They have also refused to comply with his request to be released.

This reiteration of the PR offer can serve as a graceful exit for both parties. The Packers look the noble ones, and Favre accepts an offer to continue to be a part of the team. Water under the bridge and all goes back to what we thought was going to happen a month ago.

Favre appears to be considering it, but (according to his new favorite interviewing style, text messaging) seems to still have an equal amount of desire to play.

UPDATE: Favre has confirmed he is strongly considering Murphy's offer. He sent the following text message to Ed Werder of ESPN:

"There isn't a perfect solution to this, but Mark Murphy is at least trying. We know what they want and where I stand. His solution, although awkward and unsettling for most, may be the best in the end."

"My intentions have been to play, and with Green Bay," Favre told Werder. "They say no, so I still want to play in this division for obvious reasons, which I made clear to management. If they won't let me play in Green Bay, let me play against you. That's where I am."

So, go figure at this point. Favre is considering the offer, but it still seems like he wants to play. And, to a point, this reiteration of the PR deal seems like something less like a despicable mafia bribe (as originally presented by JS Online), but still an offer of money and responsibilities that is being used to dissuade Favre from coming out of retirement.

Maybe not a bribe, maybe not quite as slimy as we thought. Speaking of slimy, did anyone else notice:
After the meeting was over, Favre refused to comment and Cook made no mention of an offer Murphy made during his visit. Curiously, Murphy also didn't comment on the meeting even after it was reported that he was offering Favre $20 million not to report to training camp.
It was widely assumed the "source" that leaked the bribe was Bus Cook, but now, not only was it not Bus Cook, but we still have no idea who the "source" is!

I guess those that piled on Murphy owe him somewhat of an apology, as do those that piled on Bus Cook (at least for this particular instance). Please don't get me started on irresponsible journalism again, but let's all please start telling JS Oline to start citing their sources.

So, here we are.

A deal was and is on the table from the Packers to Favre to do some PR work for them for the next ten years, essentially reiterated to convince him to stay retired and away from camp. This is reiterated because they have committed wholly to Aaron Rodgers and don't want Favre in camp as a distraction or to compete for the job.

Favre still wants to play, though he is considering this offer as he is seeing his choices limited and Roger Goodell continuing to force him to come to a resolution before playing.

If Favre refuses the offer this year, the Packers are apparently in serious negotiations with the Jets, and are considering offers from division foes. Favre still controls much of his own destiny here. He has the right to essentially void any trade he doesn't want to be a part of by refusing to report. We don't know if the Jets are really in his vision, but we'll soon find out.

The Packers are getting a bit more anxious, considering teams for a trade that they all but ruled out a few days ago.

This deal isn't perfect, it isn't being offered in complete good faith, but it may be the one way this whole nightmare can end with fans accepting and continuing to be fans of both Favre and the present administration. Favre can say he wants to be a part of the "team" as a goodwill ambassador (or whatever he'd be doing) and essentially gives up his drive to play by being a "team player" for the organization. The Packers make a show of faith by offering him a lot of money to be the "face of the PR department", and avoid some really icky PR to boot, plus keeping their chosen QB of the Future in the present.

Still a bribe? Somewhat, but a bribe that could put an end to all of this.

If Favre refuses, I don't blame him, especially if his passion to play can't be bought off. But, I can't blame the organization for trying in this kind of way, either. If this continues to its endgame, there will still be drama to be played out. But it seems that there is more communication and understanding between the two parties now that Murphy and Goodell have gotten involved.

Too bad this didn't happen a long time ago.

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