Analysis: No news is good news

The 'R' word was uttered for the first time this off-season when Brett Favre met the media last week. The word isn't root canal, although the questioning about his retirement is comparable if you're Favre and you have to face the same question week after week.<p>

In Green Bay, few things worry us. First, we worry about whether we need a winter jacket or a T-shirt in July. Then we worry about whether Favre will be here for the coming season. And finally, we worry about whether Favre will be back in 2004.

If you want to know Favre's plans to ease your worried mind, the last person you should ask for insight is Favre.

"I mean, I don't know. I really don't know," Favre said Thursday.

Certainly don't ask Packers coach Mike Sherman, either.

During the weeks leading up to the draft, Sherman was in Baton Rouge, La., to scout a player. While he was in that neck of the woods, he decided to visit the Favre estate in Hattiesburg, Miss. Sherman said he went to visit Favre because he was in the area, but was surprised at the length of the trip.

Don't buy it. According to, Sherman's spur-of-the-moment visit with Favre was more like a three-hour drive, each way. For someone with the impeccable organizational skills of Sherman, he knew full well that driving to Favre's place isn't exactly the same as zipping over to Storheim's for the day's special. Sherman no doubt wanted to triple and quadruple check with Favre to make sure his star quarterback would show up for one more season, or if Sherman needed to start shopping for a signal-caller. And the only way to do that was to have a face-to-face conversation.

So where does that leave the Packers? In limbo. Luckily for Sherman and the Packers, there is plenty of clearance under the limbo stick. Favre is back for at least this season, and with him behind center, the Packers remain legitimate championship contenders.

As for the rest of us, we are left to read between Favre's lines.

"I did look forward to going home (after the season). It was a nice way to get away from football. As bad as I felt after (the playoff loss to Atlanta), I needed that to get away and not think about it. And I know that when it comes time to come back to training camp, I'll dread coming back. I mean, how can you look forward to training camp, really? ... I can't wait to go right to the games.

"There are times in meetings you sit there and think about home, but there are times at home where I think: If I didn't have football to go back to, I'd miss it. I really would. I'm not naive enough to think that when I walk away from the game that that's it, I won't miss it."

Favre hinted at what would drive him from the game. In no particular order, an obvious reason Favre would retire is a career-ending injury. Another is if his love of the game - that special thing that makes Favre Favre instead of just some guy with a strong arm - disappears. And finally, if his Howitzer right arm ages into a BB gun.

"Injuries would be (one) and I think the other would be that you just don't have it anymore," Favre said. "Your heart is just not in it, and whether you win or lose doesn't really matter to you. You're just playing to play. That's the one thing I've never done is play for the money or the fame or any of that stuff.

"I play because I love it. I'm older and maybe the skills have diminished a little bit, but I don't know that's the case. I still feel like I can make every play, and I love to play."

It's interesting to compare Favre to recently retired NBA stars Michael Jordan and John Stockton. Certainly, Favre merits a close comparison to Jordan because of their star power, their creativity and their passion for the game. In other ways, Favre is a better comparison to the humble Stockton.

Stockton's retirement "news conference" was little more than an "oh, by the way" comment to a couple dozen reporters who cornered him in the Utah Jazz locker room. Stockton, a rare player in that he is among the game's best ever yet one of the league's most underappreciated players - retired with a record 15,806 assists. For comparison, Jason Kidd led the league this year with 712 assists. It would take Kidd 23 years for him to surpass Stockton's record. Like Favre, playing - and playing well - was all that mattered for Stockton. The media, the fame, the commercials and the farewell tour of the league meant nothing.

For Jordan, it was all about him, to the point of being selfish. That became clear during Jordan's run with the Washington Wizards. Despite clearly diminished athletic skills that took away the legs for long jumpers and the explosiveness to get to the basket, Jordan had to be the man in Washington. He put up decent numbers only because he made himself the first and second option on offense. In the end, the consensus among fans was: "Thanks, Mike. Now go away."

Whenever Favre retires, let's hope he has the good sense to be classy and timely like Stockton and not a shadow-of-himself version of Jordan who sticks around only to stroke his ego.

Huber is a copy editor for The News-Chronicle. Contact him via e-mail at

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