Expect Favre to return

Brett Favre is going to retire. I know this without a doubt.<p> However, the Green Bay Packers quarterback is not retiring this off-season, just some day after 2005.<p>

I don't have any proof of this and I haven't talked to a source close to the situation who told me Favre would return in 2005. What I rest this mostly on is circumstantial evidence.

The evidence is how the Packers have approached finding the heir-apparent. They haven't looked too hard to find this guy, unless you count a ragged-arm Tim Couch, who couldn't throw a football threw a wet paper sack.

As for backup Craig Nall, he looked good at times this past season, but it wasn't in the heat of the game. Nall hasn't done enough to make the Packers comfortable. All he appears to be is a backup, but every team needs one of those.

In the last three years, the Packers haven't made a move that told us, "OK, he's the guy." In the draft, the Packers selected Ahmad Carroll, Nick Barnett and Javon Walker in the first round. Through free agency, the Packers signed Couch (and cut him) and traded for J.T. O'Sullivan. Don't you think if the Packers thought Favre was on his way out after this season, or if Favre hinted there could be a real chance of him calling it quits, the Packers would have done more than this to prepare for life without Favre? Coach Mike Sherman has told Favre he needs a decision on 2005 before the start of free agency. But would Sherman have left it for chance this off-season with nothing certain? A one-shot deal?

I find it hard to believe the Packers would have done next to nothing and go into this off-season less prepared than a Mike Martz-coached football team.

This is my evidence Favre is returning. Well, part of it, anyway.

Other evidence includes the way Favre is playing. If he was slowing down like Gilbert Brown does at a drive-thru, then, yeah, Favre's future would be in doubt. However, he has thrown 121 touchdown passes and 69 interceptions over the last four seasons with a cumulative quarterback rating above 90.

Also, he has led the Packers three consecutive NFC North Division titles.

Unless he's Barry Sanders, Favre isn't leaving now.

My final reason Favre isn't retiring this off-season is the NFC. Outside of Philadelphia, when Terrell Owens was healthy, was there any team the Packers weren't capable of beating? No. Of course, the way they played this season, there was no team that couldn't beat them.

Nevertheless, the NFC isn't stuffed with real powers outside of, maybe, the Eagles. Because of this, if the Packers made some moves to improve the defense (starting with the firing of defensive coordinator Bob Slowik) to make it just average, it's possible Favre leads the Packers into serious contention for an NFC title.

The way the Packers finished this season, an NFC title seems as likely as the Bears scoring more than one touchdown per game, but in the NFL wait till next year really has meaning.

If Favre waits till next year and the Packers make solid defensive moves, it'll be worth Favre's time to return. He knows that and I just can't imagine him going out now. Not the way he's played, not the way the NFC is laid out, not the way his season ended.

Favre has an idea of how he wants his career to end, and losing 31-17 to Minnesota at home in the playoffs isn't how he envisioned it.

Yep, Favre's coming back for all these reasons. He's too big a competitor not to give it one more try.

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