When a quarterback hits the open market, widespread speculation is standard operating procedure in Tampa Bay, where quarterbacks are as collectible as that 1989 Ken Griffey Jr. Upper Deck rookie card you once traded your entire collection to obtain.
When that quarterback is Brett Favre, it turns into panderlerium, as Jeff Foxworthy used to say.
So when one of my co-workers called me on Tuesday to tell me that Favre was seen having dinner at a Tampa-area steakhouse with Buccaneers general manager Bruce Allen, I felt compelled to check it out.
The truth? He heard it on a Tampa-area radio show (you'll need only one guess to figure out who). Chances are that radio personality read it on Tampa Bay 10's blog, which quoted a Green Bay-area blog that was "speculating" on where Favre might have been that night. Allen told local papers that he did not have dinner with Favre on Monday and wouldn't speculate on Favre's future.
Of course, given this chain of information, I'm tempted to call the steakhouse in question (Fleming's) and ask if Allen had the fish.
Just when the summer was dragging, Favre returned to pick up the pace. Favre retired in March, but wants to play again. But where? He called a trade a "way-out-there possibility." So that would indicate Favre wants to play in Green Bay.
The Packers are understandably in a pickle, as they've moved on with Aaron Rodgers. The Packers don't want to grant Favre his unconditional release, as he's asked for, because, well, the future Hall of Famer is still worth something (some speculate a first-round pick).
Eventually, the Packers will have to deal him or release him because the circus surrounding a Favre return to Green Bay would be the mother of all distractions.
So how did Tampa Bay enter this discussion? Well, look at this week's Sporting News. You'll see Favre in a Bucs uniform (along with the Ravens and Packers). And Bucs head coach Jon Gruden coached on Mike Holmgren's staff for three years in Green Bay during Favre's infancy as a NFL quarterback. He has a soft spot for Favre, that's for sure.
So everyone in Tampa has been blogging and talking and podcasting all week about acquiring Favre. One report quoted a source as saying Favre thought Tampa was "too hot." He's from Mississippi — extreme south Mississippi. That's like someone going from Cuba to Puerto Rico and saying, "You know, it's just SO much cooler in Cuba."
Normally, I would dismiss all of this. But this is Gruden we're talking about. Quarterbacks are his drug and he's completely addicted. He's talked for years about elevating that position, and few elevate it — even at his advanced age — like Favre.
If there's even a hint that Favre can be had, Gruden might just pounce like a homeless cat on a can of catnip. It'll be up to Allen to keep him in check.
Stick with what you have, Jon. Let the Packers — and their future trading partner — deal with the circus.
Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for bucsblitz.com and the Charlotte Sun