Authored by Randolph Charlotin - 16th July, 2008 - 8:37 pm
When Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams first retired after the 2003 season, I applauded him for putting personal happiness ahead of becoming rich. He gave up the opportunity to make a bunch of money because he heart wasn?t in it.
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During his year away from the game, Williams did what brought him joy: He learned holistic medicine, smoked as much weed as he wanted, meditated, became a horse whisperer, maybe built homes with Habitat for Humanity, protested with PETA or Greenpeace, and helped discover a once extinct flightless bird?maybe.
I respected Williams? decision to leave football behind because I thought it was absolute, and he was never coming back. So when Ricky returned, I lost a measure of respect for him.
Fast forward to March 2008. After a fourth off-season of soul-searching, former Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre tearfully announced his retirement from the NFL. He said that physically he knew he could still play, but he was just too tired.
But three months later, just before training camp starts, Favre wants back in.
Excuse me? What does Favre think this is, pick-up ball on the high school field? If Favre wasn?t 100 percent sure when he declared he was done, then why make the announcement? I respect people who are true to their word, and Brett isn?t being true to his.
Apparently, he thinks because he?s Brett Favre the Packers should welcome him with open arms no matter the time. Sorry, Brett, it doesn?t work that way. The franchise planned years in advance for the day you wouldn?t strap on the shoulder pads anymore. They drafted Aaron Rodgers three years ago and groomed him to be your replacement. They built the youngest team in the league to be competitive for years. The ceremony to retire Favre?s jersey during the season opener was already planned out. Green Bay is ready to move forward.
So what made Favre think he could come back on short notice without a problem? After getting a lukewarm reception from the Packers, Favre asked for his release so he could play elsewhere.
How?s that for showing the Green Bay fans your appreciation for 16 years? Do the Packer fans feel burned by how quickly Brett is willing to pick up and go?
San Diego didn?t like it when Junior Seau gave an elaborate retirement speech, proclaiming he was graduating from the NFL, only to re-enroll with AFC rival New England. If Favre returns with another team, Brett deserves equal criticism.
Understandably, the Packers' front office says they won?t release him. For now they say Favre can come back as a back-up because the Packers are now Rodgers? team.
As if Aaron Rodgers wasn?t already in a no-win situation. He?s following a legend. In the fans? eyes, no matter how well Aaron plays, he will never be as good as Favre unless Aaron wins the Super Bowl.
The good news for Rodgers is Favre won?t accept a back-up role. But that creates a dilemma for the front office.
The last option left is trading Favre. But to whom? The Packers' brain trust said they haven?t received any phone calls for Favre.
That isn?t a surprise because by now every team has their roster set. All major transactions are done, and the coaches pretty much know the first 40 or so players that will make the roster for opening day. The remaining spots will be decided during training camp.
Teams also lack the space under the salary cap to add Favre?s contract. Most teams have just enough for signing a few role players for small money. They don?t have the room for Favre?s remaining three years and $39 million. Favre would have to accept a huge pay cut to play for someone else.
But more than anything else, no team wants a player who isn?t committed. During the ?05, ?06, and ?07 off-seasons, Favre took his time before deciding to return for another year. When he finally retired in ?08, he reneged on his decision and now wants to continue playing. As good as Favre is and the difference he will make at the gate with ticket sales, no team wants a player who seems likely to be one and done or indecisive about playing beyond this season.
There probably isn?t a quick resolution to this. More rumors of the behind the scenes conversations between the two sides will slowly trickle out. The truth will be somewhere between the Packers coercing a retirement out of Brett and Favre changing his mind to retire two days before announcing he?d be back for another year.
This isn?t a mid-life crisis. Favre advanced from three years of indecisive PMS to completely changing his mind like a woman going through menopause. These traits don?t belong in the NFL.
If Favre comes back, he better stick it out for a full season whether he starts, is a back-up, or gets benched several games into the season. Don?t pull a Petrino and quit before the year is up.
Randolph Charlotin writes a New England Patriots' blog at http://www.newenglandpatriotsnews.com/randolphc/weblog/ and also contributes to The Boston Score at http://www.bostonscore.com/. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.