Thursday, February 4, 2010

Favre's Legacy

During the tumultuous summer of 2008, Ted Thompson once tried to claim that he was dragging his heels in the decision to release/trade Favre because he was "trying to preserve his legacy".  I thought it was a somewhat faceteous statement at the time, a feined personal concern for someone that he professionally wanted to see off his team and off his ledger.

Almost two years later, and following the Vikings' loss to the Cardinals in the playoffs, I'm ready to weigh in.

I am one of the few Packer fans who has also maintained a steady Favre fandom.  Unlike most, I do not believe the two have to be mutually exclusive.  I didn't miss a Packer game this year, and cheered them on from start to finish.  When the ball fell from Aaron Rodgers' hand and found its way into the wrong end zone, I was devastated.

But I also followed Favre's meanderings with the team I hate, the Minnesota Vikings.  I didn't harbor ill will towards Favre, however, for wanting to go there.  I also didn't fault him for allegedly wanting to "stick it" to the Packers.  After all, there were plenty of Packers who insinuated they wanted to "stick it" right back, and millions of Packer fans who didn't even bother to insinuate.  It's a part of the game, part of human nature, and for as much as we claimed we no longer held alliegance to All Things Favre, we found ourselves again caught up in his soap opera.

His legacy is tarnished in my eyes, however...but not for the reasons most Packer fans would list first.

I do not begrudge Favre for his temper tantrum of 2008.  It was his choice to retire and wait as long as possible before unretiring, and I don't fault the Packer administration for moving on without him.  But it was his right to play football.  Ted and Mike dragged their heels on the release/trade that was bound to happen, and that's where the drama came from.  I said then, and say now, when he asked for his release, they should have given it to him and let him go off and do his thing.  The Packer administration should be concerning themselves with all things Packers, not Bears or Vikings.  Those organizations do enough to sabatoge themselves without our help.

I do not begrudge Favre for allegedly wanting to seek revenge against Ted Thompson.  Over time, the message became distorted in that Favre wanted to seek revenge against "the Packers", which I don't believe was ever the case.  As Packer fans, we chose to align with Thompson as being "The Packers" and therefore equated his grudge with a man as becoming a grudge with "us".  If that is the case, we are just as guilty as Favre was.

I do not begrudge Favre for wanting to play for the Vikings.  Yes, it's a division rival, but it was also the perfect scenario for an aging quarterback.  A buddy as your head coach, your ex-coffee fetcher as your OC, the best running back in football behind a solid offensive line and a great defense.  Did he have revenge in mind by simply going to the Vikings?  Could be part of it, but come on...he could have gotten the same revenge opportunity in Chicago or Detroit.  He wanted the opportunity to play with a good team and get his diva treatment at the same time.

I do not begrduge Favre for playing for the Vikings.  Is he a traitor?  Maybe, but face was great drama all around.  It was good for the NFL, good for the Vikings, and whether we want to admit it or not, in the end it was good for the Packers.  Sure, the two losses put the Packers into a funk for a while, but without those two losses the Packers would have never reached their "Come To Jesus" meeting after the Bucs game. The emotional losses were devastating, but the Packers would never have made the playoffs if they hadn't hit rock bottom and come together as a team, focusing on the players wearing green instead of some other player wearing purple.  And Aaron Rodgers is a keeper, and he's proven it.

I do not begrudge Favre for beating the Packers.  Hey, there was a lot of smack from our side of the Mississippi River.  Nick Barnett hinted at how he would no longer be wearing a red jersey.  Many of us declared Favre would end up black and blue, sacked and hit, and throw interceptions at critical times.  In the end, Favre played two textbook games against us at quarterback, and our vaunted defense couldn't touch Brett or his passes.  We booed him loudly, taunted him, ridculed him...and he walked off of Lambeau Field as the victor.  We were reduced to living vicariously through other teams, hoping they could be the ones to dish out the punishment and embarassment that we couldn't.  And for 17 games, we were again forced to face reality....this was not the same Favre that left us.

Ted Thompson may have been trying to save Favre from these shots to his legacy, but in the end, they really weren't what he had to be concerned about.  In fact, Favre's escapades in going to the Vikings and playing against the Packers cemented his status as a Hall of Famer and, perhaps, one of the greatest of all time.

The shot to his legacy didn't happen because he was a Viking.  The shot to his legacy happened because he threw a pass that shouldn't have been thrown.  It didn't matter if the jersey he was wearing was green, purple, orange, or polka-dotted. 

When he threw his "last pass", it was on a scramble, across his body, trying to fit it into a tiny window.  We've seen him throw these kinds of passes successfully many times over the last 17 years.  But, we've seen him throw the interceptions at the worst possible moments, in the playoffs...not many times, but enough times. 

It was inexplicable.  It was inexcusable.  It was thoughtless, reckless, and a season-killer.

I will be the first to point out that the rest of the Vikings didn't show up to play that day.  Jared Allen was invisible and the defense was shaky.  The offensive line was porous and finally gave Packers fans a reason to cheer at Favre's injuries.  Adrian Peterson may have gotten his 100+ yards and a couple of touchdowns, but his production was scattershot and his ball protection was terrible.  And all of those things led to the Vikings loss as much as Favre's last-second pick.

But, you see, no one cares about the whether the Vikings won or lost.  And in the end, Packer fans seem satiated, if not celebratory, at the fact that Minnesota's season came to an end in the same manner as a couple of ours.

But that one throw changed Favre's legacy forever, as unfair as it is.  Call it "Scott Norwood-itis".  Those mistakes on a big stage help define your entire career.  One split-second brain fart changed how Favre would be percieved for the rest of his life.

Had Favre slid, thrown the ball out of bounds, or completed a short pass, his "legacy" would have been saved.  It didn't matter if Longwell hit the field goal or not.  It didn't matter if the Vikings won or not.  Favre wouldn't have been the one to hang the loss on.  Following a statistically  masterful season, he would have been put up one more notch on the totem pole of The Greatest Quarterbacks of All Time.  One split-second decision changed all that.

Tom Brady could have been the "perfect quarterback", leading an undefeated team to a Super Bowl.  But one split-second, lucky reception by David Tyree changed the entire legacy of that season.  Now, no one looks back on the 2007 Patriots as the best team of all time, but as just another good team that couldn't finish.  Where will Tom Brady finish in the pantheon of Great Quarterbacks?  After his injury in 2008 and a less-than-Brady-like season in 2009, some of the luster has left his star.  But had he quarterbacked the perfect season?  We'd view him much differently.  We'd be talking about him with Montana and Unitas and Starr.

As Packer fans, we've had it wrong.  It's been fun getting our undies in a bundle, booing and calling him Brent, but that's not the legacy that Favre should have been worried about.  Even now, are we obsessing about "Favre as a Viking" anymore?  Nope, because he lost and they lost, and all is right with the world.

Brett Favre spent the better part of eighteen games worrying about the legacy he should have been worrying about:  shaking the legacy of the spoiled, gunslinging, error-prone playoff goat.  And he did it nearly flawlessly.

Except for one split-second decision that cost him more than a game or a season.  It cost him dearly in terms of his legacy.


jrehor said...

Well said C.D. sums up what so many fans think

Ann said...

this is the dumbest thing I've ever heard. because of one interception that meant nothing, he has tarnished his legacy? try as you may to blame brett for losing the game, the interception did not cost the vikings the game.there was not way Longwell would have kicked a 56yd FG. the interception simply put the vikings into OT. what lost the game? try the 5 fumbles, 12th man penalty, illegal hits. Typical of packer fans. Oh and by the way how did the packers lose? A fumble by rodgers into the hands of a defender who scored a TD. Please people get real.

Craig D. said...

"But, you see, no one cares about the whether the Vikings won or lost. And in the end, Packer fans seem satiated, if not celebratory, at the fact that Minnesota's season came to an end in the same manner as a couple of ours."

Yep. And all those things you "don't" begrudge him about led directly to our feelings. Explains the different perspectives.

And no matter how well you think he played, Ted still wins. And he will get the last laugh.

GoPack said...

Ann, the pass meant nothing? Yes, there were a lot of mistakes leading up to that point, but the fact of the matter is the Vikes needed about 5-6 yards to have a very good shot at winning. Don't pretend that Favre's pass was similar to the (amazing) throw against SF, where there was nothing to lose. Two outcomes on that play gave the Vikes a 100% chance of not winning that game in the 4th: a sack and an INT. If they gain anywhere from 0-39 yards, they at least have a chance at a FG. The INT took that chance away, it meant quite the opposite of "nothing".

Anonymous said...

If he only wanted to stick it to Ted, then I would have thought that 3 consecutive nights on Greta would have scratched that itch.

Perhaps some don't begrudge what he did, but HOW he did it was quite unprofessional.

In the end, he reaps as he sows... just like everybody else.

Karma is not swayed by the media myth-makers.

Ann said...

my point is the interception in no way lost the game. They had to pick up at least 5 yds to give the kicker any chance. There was no way brett could run with that ankle and 2 saints bearing down on him. He had no faith in his legs at that point. He chose to throw a pass that has worked hundreds of times for him over his career. Given the time in the game, his bad ankles and the fact that they needed at least 5 yrds just to make it 51yard try, he attempted a pass. it didn't work. it also didn't lose the game. It didn't lead to points like some of the other turnovers, it sent them to overtime which is where they would be if the kicker missed. in hindsight he shouldn't have thrown it but to say it ruined his legacy is way over the top. QB's make mistakes, and believe it or not even those not named Favre get intercepted. Brady, Manning, to name two have all ended playoff games with an interception. Manning on several occasions. Brett's inteception did not end the game and just like the others it did not damage his legacy.

Brian Carriveau said...

Great work, C.D. I have one thing I disagree with and that's the part about the Packers giving Favre his release. Favre signed his contract with the Packers, and once a person does that, they have to live with the consequences. The Packers owned the rights to a commodity in Favre's trade value. They had every right to squeeze everything they could out of his trade to the Jets, and sometimes I think they could have gotten more.

GBP Fan said...

Perfect. So many Pack fans think this way, and you said it so well.

I just found your blog, and I'll definitely be back. I have recently started my own Pack blog here.

Go Pack Go!

Anonymous said...

Favre had a stellar season. One for the ages. One of the best of his career.

As long as everyone around him was performing well.

Then, the Vikings started to crack on the big stage. Turnovers and poor play was all around Favre. Being the competitor that he is, he tried to put the team on his shoulders and will them to victory, like he had for the Packers so many times in the past.

He failed, Throwing the crucial interception at the critical time. Just like he had for the Packers so many time in the past.

I admit to a touch of schadenfreude. As a Packer fan with several Viking/Bear/Lion fan friends, I took a lot of grief as Favre played like his wise 40 year old brain was in the body of a 25 year old. I just kept saying "wait and see". He'll tear your heart out eventually. And he did.


BigSnakeMan said...

I have to agree with Mr. Carriveau. You suggest that Thompson should have released Brett to go to the Vikings but you also wrote that TT should only worry about the Packers. The two concepts are contradictory. Just because the Packers thought they had a better option with Rodgers doesn't automatically mean that Favre's presence wouldn't and didn't make the Vikings better. TT's obligation to the Packers doesn't permit him to allow a division rival to improve at their expense.

packerbacker1 said...

generally a well written and thought out article, again

very well said


it is not a question of legacy, if you are thinking of legacy you do not belong on the football field
On the field there is today and this game. And if you lose it trying to win happens

exactly as it happened to Rodgers

a QB trying to win and ending up the cause of the losing play

the biggest point is the totally divergent treatment they get

the next is the TOTAL LACK of brains on MINN in the last possession that was wierdly like the eagle melt down for us

a 5 yard penalty on 3rd down AFTER a time out?

great QBs play to win and for all the 2nd and after the fact guessing favre was in the NFC championship and we were not

the queens beat us 2x thanks to favre, like it or not

favre was the reason they were division champs and not us, like it or not

tarnish a legacy? hardly this is defining of his legacy, exactly as could have been predicted

packerbacker1 said...

as for the teddie angle

I will let his whining suckups say what they want

but I will point out the giant LIE they help carry forward

the queens were offering a 1st round pick for favre

the SMART GM PLAY FOR GB is getting the #1 the rest is ego protection and hiding

teddie was and is the boss the bucks stops there to everyone but favre haters and whiners, teddie created it and bears the responsibility

BigSnakeMan said...

Unless my memory is failing me in my old age or "Packerbacker 1" has some inside info, I don't recall that the Vikings ever offered a first round or any other kind of pick to the Packers as compensation for Favre. In fact, at the time, all I heard out of Minnesota were denials that they were even interested in Favre, which helped explain why they were acquitted of the tampering charge.

C.D. Angeli said...

Brian and Snake, let me clarify...

When Favre came out and asked for his release, we know now it was not out of the blue. There was water under the bridge and plenty of irritation between both parties by the time this occurred.

Favre was going to play, and the management knew it wasn't going to be for the Packers. The headache that followed (that resulted in small children telling Aaron Rodgers to F off to his face) should not have happened.

There was NO talk of trade for several weeks after his request/demand. It was the he said/she said, protecting the legacy, bribe/marketing offer, etc. He wanted to go, let him, via trade or release.

You subtract Favre from your roster, you get a bona fide #1 starter in Rodgers, an extra $10 million in cap room (later given to Rodgers), and the decision to leave becomes Favre's, not the Packers'.

As I said, trading him within the division for a #1 pick (if offered)...what the heck? So, he might win a couple of games the following year. In my very humble opinion, even releasing him soon after his request (a la Reggie White) puts the Packers ahead of where the ended up, third-rounder or not. Trading him to the Vikings for a potential first-rounder? Sure, Thompson takes some flack, but given how the story ended anyway, wouldn't we now be laughing all the way to the bank?

IPB said...

Favre, like any other Top-drawer Quarterback in the NFL, ... has a Legacy. There's no way to avoid the fact. Why is it we need to re-define what it is and how it is viewed (including whose fault) whenever it suddenly becomes Brett Favre in the discussion [???]


A quarterback - ANY quarterback - is who ultimately affects the outcome of every game. Go ahead, tell me you don't remember "Great Quarterbacks Find A Way To WIn" ..... I speak of guys like Otto Graham, Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana - a general list of those most of us have known all our lives while watching the game. Sad note: There is no film of Otto Graham, so it's difficult compare other than by the books and articles written.

Favre's 1990's Legacy is forever linked to Mike Holmgren AND Reggie White. His Legacy, however, for the next Decade is linked only to himself for the most part - sure there was Mike Sherman and then Mike McCarthy. But as has been outed for awhile now, Sherman was merely Favre's puppet coach. Brett didn't really respect or fear him. Ray Rhodes' one season, I think, was hampered by Ron Wolf's decision to start inviting Favre into the Team Operations Meetings (circa 1999) and that right there is where the real Soap Opera started. (True Event, btw)

The 1990's Favre is the 3xMVP who "helped" take us to two SuperBowls. Barry Sanders got jobbed by the NFL Committee on Favre's 3rd MVP - JMHO.

However, without Reggie White, I believe Favre never makes it. I can't prove it, but that's my judgement on the issue. If you review SB31, it was Reggie White and our Defense that won that game. The Pats had basically neutralized the Packers' Offense and Brett Favre. Without those Back-To-Back sacks by Reggie, Drew Bledsoe does make the score tied in the 4th quarter. If Favre is frozen, as he was, then we go 3-out, like the next year at SB32, then the Pats win that game and the 1990's legacy is almost no different than it has been since 2000.

If you need to review how a QB DOES ULTIMATELY AFFECT A TEAM's ABILITY TO WIN .... look at this webpage -->

I am much like C.D. in the discussion - I prefer to remember the Gunslinger from the 1990's; not necessarily from the New Millenium. Sure, he has great heart for the game and he's essentially a Linebacker standing behind Center. Ask Chris Hovan. He makes watching the game fun again. He puts you on the edge of your seat. He almost gets you there... to the Brass Ring (...only almost)

Yet, any fan would have no choice but to review WHY the guy never seems to learn from his mistakes (ala against the Rams of 2001). A friend and I sat down and chatted about just how many SuperBowls it is that Favre has thrown away - and the count was FIVE. That means AFTER SB32, too. After Reggie White.

C.D. is right when he says the Man brought it all on himself. And the real damage was done.

He spent all those seasons saying: "I can't see myself playing for any other Team" ... and then goes about blaming someone else, over & over, as to why he just can't seem to win another SuperBowl (without Reggie White). He went against his own words - and real Packerfans saw thru the bull, saw thru the media hype - with ESPN and others trying to carry his water instead of asking the HARD questions - it smelled of bad politics.

It is seriously ... THAT simple.

Great quarterbacks ...find a way!

to be cont'd....

IPB said...

Favre will be remembered, honored, revered, etc. But, not right away. Much like Curly Lambeau (who hated Vince Lombardi and vice-versa) it will take the passing of time for the wounds to heal. Brett started it, and in the end.. the Packers ended it. Favre just couldn't help himself. His blaming all others is now ended and what's more - HE KNOWS IT, or at least... he should.

When the Packers ended it, it became someone else's problem, someone else's migraine.

We will all keep copies of our favorite videos and our favorite collectibles - the smart ones will - and somewhere down the road, the Packers will invite him back for that final get-together where we retire his number, etc.

If Favre is smart... and that's a BIG IF... he will make it a point to suggest the event occur BEFORE Ted Thompson is no longer the current GM of the Packers. He will mend the fence with GBP and shake Ted's hand. I don't think he has the guts, myself. There's still too much that hasn't been outed about it all... too much of it being mis-told to the public ... too much mis-information. Once that part is cleared away, then we all can get back to how it once was. Favre better hurry though. Rodgers could very well get it done the right way in a fairly short amount of time. And THAT, really will leave Favre in the lurch. he has one Ring, as does Trent Dilfer and Joe Namath and many others. Only his linebacker toughness gets him over the hump and into the discussion of the Greats.

All TT & MM did was demand Favre put up or shut up. Be prepared to come back and prep or (hey) let us know you're walking away. No more of this..."uuuh, I don't know if I can do this any more" - which was a lie, we know now, from the very outset.

That ain't that hard. Manning seems to handle it real well. As do all other QBs. Why should he be different?

He is a QB, not the Head Honcho whose head would roll...pending. His Job Description was simple: Stand behind the Center and get the ball into the End Zone. His Job was NOT to be who was in charge of bringing in the next HC, or the next Great Player. His Job description does not include being a part of Team Operations - that's Management, and he was only an Employee. Not a Mgr. His job title does not say MANAGER.

Many think this event is rumor only - but I think you should check with Ron Wolf, personally, because he did admit as much to several former Packer Reporters. I've read the Articles.

Being told by TT & MM that his presence and his suggestions to Team Operations are all well and good, but we got this... is not something he had the right to get snippy about and then begin his "don't know" campaign over. If you remember, that campaign almost coincided with the death of his Father, too. Curious. Maybe his Father passing away affected him more deeply than anyone knew. I grieved for him. Still, he doesn't have the right to falsify the situation. He could have just kept it all in-house as is the NFL WAY. He took a different route and that's where the Packerfans, for the most part, or irritated and now proven right in their attitudes.

I'm a Favre Fan ... but all of my Favre Jerseys have FIVE stripes only. I think you get the idea. If you watch SB31 again, isn't Favre wearing a 5-stripe jersey? I believe he is. Hmmmm....

IPB said...

Reprint of the Webpage --

Just copy and paste the entire thing, including the [.html] part.

IPB said...

My bad....

The final score for SB31 was 35-21.

Yet, I do remember that the Pats were on a real comeback and did have time to get the ball back and hopefully score again.