Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Stormin' Gorman: Why A Release Is Better Than A Trade

I was thinking about all of the trade possibilities brought up the past few days: whether or not we can get a first-day pick for Favre, who we would trade him to, etc. I find this whole process funny and pretty hypocritical for the people who are lambasting Favre, though.

One one hand, there are folks who are absolutely villifying Favre, calling him a cancer, washed up, and of course, the entire reason that we lost the playoff game against the Giants. We are completely better off with an untested and injury-prone youngster than this kind of diva.

However, this team-imploding, selfish, authority-challenging jerk should absolutely not, under any circumstances go to a team that the Packers would have to face. Because, he's so good he might beat us.

And, take it a step further, we should be able to pick up a second-rounder for him in trade, maybe even a conditional first-rounder.

Kind of funny...he's terrible, but really, really good.

In any case, on to the crux of my article today, which is the trade that everyone wants Ted Thompson to make. Favre to Carolina for a second-rounder. Favre to Miami for Jason Taylor. Favre to Washington for a conditional first-rounder.

If you want to see true career suicide, it will be for Thompson to try and trade Favre. It has nothing to do with whether or not you've given Favre what he wants, or the power to stay in the division. It has nothing to do with the Packers trying to maximize anything they can salvage from this sad situation.

It has to do with Rick Manning.

In 1983, the Milwaukee Brewers decided it was time for a change, and on the block was none other than perhaps the most popular Brewer in the lineup after the pennant-winning 1982 campaign.

Gorman Thomas was a lot like Brett Favre, a throwback guy from the Deep South who delighted fans with the long ball. He hit more home runs from 1978 to 1982 than any one else in major league history at the time, and was famed for his "load the torpedo"-style at-bats that produced a strikeout as often as a big hit.

Spitting tobacco and looking like he just rolled out of bed after a three-day bender, Thomas captured the hearts of all of us swept up in the magical season of 1982.

And then, Brewer management, sensing that Thomas might be approaching his drop-off of old age, decided to sell high and traded him to the Cleveland Indians in 1983.

Who did they get in return? An athletic .319 center fielder that was only 28 years old. Gorman was 33 and had a .183 average so far that season. On paper, it made perfect sense. You sold off an aging player that looked like he was hitting the wall for a younger, faster, better-fielding guy that would man that position for the next five years.

And maybe, on paper, it was a great deal. Cleveland finished that season with a player that barely got his average over .200 and only 22 home runs to show for it. They shipped him off to Seattle, where he was injured much of the following season.

But Rick Manning never posted more than a .254 average as a weak-hitting center field for the Brewers, and a lot of that was due to the fan derision, undeserved as it was. It wouldn't have mattered if the Brewers traded Gorman Thomas for Reggie Jackson, Rickey Henderson, and Bruce Sutter. Nothing would have been enough.

The love affair that fans had for Thomas was beyond what they had for even players like Robin Yount or Paul Molitor. Thomas was the everyman, the guy they might work with at the factory, making good in the big leagues. He was a hero who looked like an slouch, a guy more likely to lift beer mugs than weights.

And despite his faults, his strikeouts, and his struggling 1983 campaign, the fans never forgave the Brewers for what they perceived as knocking out the glue that held that team together. And, they never forgave Rick Manning for being the guy they were supposed to love instead.

Many fans point back to that trade as the unraveling of the Brewers. The coach of the Brewers, Harvey Kuenn, was fired after that 1983 campaign, despite compiling a respectable 87-75 record in a very tough division. Harry Dalton, the man who made that trade, held on to his job until 1991, but was never seen again as the man with the golden touch.

The Brewers finished dead last in 1984, and we know the struggles they've had since then.

Ted Thompson is now tinkering with the idea of trading Brett Favre, a guy who embodies much of what Thomas did, a player with more than fans, but rabid worshippers. Is there any other player that would inspire fan rallies in the Lambeau Field parking lot?

One would have to think that Gorman Thomas might have been such a guy.

Am I suggesting that letting Favre go is career suicide for Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy? No, not in the least, though we all know that the microscope will be on "the plan" that so many of Thompson's Supporters have celebrated and blamed Favre for holding up.

But the idea of trading him? You have to look beyond the objective, statistical evidence, as the Brewers failed to do in 1983.

Yes, Favre will be 39.

Yes, Favre would interfere with the career of Aaron Rodgers and his potential interest in remaining a Packer.

Yes, Favre hasn't shown the gusto you wish he would in remaining unretired.

But, the subjective opinions, not only of those that love Favre, but those that are infuriated with him, will make any player in trade the subject of constant comparison and criticism, probably moreso than the pressure that is going to be on Aaron Rodgers.

What is the "value" of a Brett Favre? It goes beyond what is on the field, the scoreboard, or in the statistic book. He's followed as a folk hero, and you can't buy and sell that on the open market.

Can you imagine the pressure on some poor kid out of college in next year's draft, with the knowledge that he is what was traded for Brett Favre?

I know that many are angry at Favre right now and want to put this whole situation in the best advantage for the Packers. But the trade isn't the way to go.

The Packers were not expecting to have Favre this year, and apparently, didn't really want him. They are losing nothing by releasing him over what they thought they had a month ago.

Yes, the release gives Favre the option to allow teams to get into a bidding war for his services for 2008. So what? We can see what his real value is on the open market, instead of complaining about his $12.5 million salary.

Yes, the release gives Favre the potential to play in Minnesota this year. So what? If that is what he chooses, he will suffer the derision of fans that will cast his as a traitor, as they did with Ryan Longwell and Darren Sharper. And, the Vikings can put up with the media frenzy that always seems to come along with Favre, and see how they can handle it.

The Packers? They can't be worrying about who is on the other teams in the division. They have to worry about who is on their team, and getting that team to realize its potential. Could Favre "hurt" the Packers as a Viking or a Bear? Sure he could...and likely never again after this season.

Meanwhile, Thompson gets what he wanted. His plan, his quarterback, his players...and all the pressure that a GM should be under. We expect that any player or professional should accept consequences for their actions. We certainly expect that Favre takes his lumps for what's happened, as should Ted and Mike McCarthy.

So, Ted, don't put yourself in the position to be the one pulling the strings on Favre, allowing him to make you out to be the bad guy, allowing fans to analyze that trade, allowing whomever he was traded for to be the constant comparison, the source of fan derision as the "value of Favre".

Nothing is going to equal the value of Favre in the eyes of most fans, both those that love him and hate him. This isn't about "not giving in". This isn't about "protecting the team".

This is about not cursing yourself. Karma goes a long way in my book, and the act of trying to purposefully trade away our Gorman Thomas will have impacts beyond the salary cap, beyond the scoreboard, and beyond the stats.

Favre wants to be the captain of his own boat? Let him. Give him his release and let him negotiate salaries, compete for a job, learn a new offense, put up with the media scrutiny. Chances are, he'll wish he had stayed retired.

But if Thompson wants a chance, he needs to avoid being the man that decided what the value for Favre was, as Harry Dalton underestimated the value of Gorman Thomas in the eyes of those that were the fans.

He asked for a release. Let him go and find his fate. Ted Thompson needs to worry about the fate of this Packer team more than scrounging up another third-round pick.


Rich Beckman said...

So it's the fault of the fans!!! All this drama would disappear if actors didn't have to take into consideration the fans.

You make a compelling case. I'd rather see Farve traded, but I am not more willing to accept release.

And if that's to be the outcome, let it be soon!!

Rich Beckman said...


NOW more willing,

I am now more willing to accept release.

LosAngelis said...

I know there are many that are unwilling to seem like they are giving in to Favre in this situation, but it really was the best thing he could ask for...not just for himself, but for the Packers, too.

And, unlike a trade, that IS something they can do...tomorrow. Done. Over. Fin. Move on.


Favre and Thompson need to set their massive egos aside so they can kiss and make up. This posturing in the media is ridiculous and makes them both look bad.

I care about what's best for the Packers in 2008. And the answer is clearly Brett Favre. With Favre at the helm, this team is a legitimate Super Bowl contender. With Aaron Rodgers... it's an unknown. I'd rather go with the proven commodity.

The way I see it, if you have a shot, you take it! You simply do not pass up on an opportunity! Bring Favre back. It's what's best for the team right now.

On another note, should we be a little concerned that training camp is only 12 days away and not one single draft choice has been signed yet?