Don't blame Favre for team's troubles

The Packers are 0-3 for the first time since Brett Favre was a sophomore at Southern Mississippi. He shoulders just as much blame for that miserable start in 1988 as he does for Sunday's loss to Tampa Bay. In other words, none.

Favre's three interceptions glare out from his stats, but the game book doesn't account for the fact that two of those went off receivers' hands and absolutely should have been caught. Favre started 7-for-7 with a TD, played with precious little solid protection and absorbed two lightning-quick sacks. Heck, he even threw a block.

Those are just the numbers. There's more to the Favre story Sunday. It's nothing we haven't seen before, but it may be something we haven't seen out of many 35-year-old QBs. Favre was waving his towel to fire up the fans, coming out on the field in defense of Aaron Kampman, and getting into the face of teammates who short-changed him on a route. He rolled out the welcome wagon for receiver Antonio Chatman, who became the 37th individual to catch a TD pass from Favre.

Thankfully Favre isn't listening to the likes of former Cowboy Michael Irvin who declared Favre's career D.O.A. on the ESPN pregame show Sunday. Irvin claimed, among other things, that there's no way Favre can be in his top shape at age 35. If Irvin is speaking from personal experience he is doing Favre a disservice. The way Irvin conducted himself in Dallas – complete with self-inflicted personal woes – is the polar opposite of Favre who displays nothing but dignity in the face of overwhelming personal tragedies.

Joining Irvin on the panel were Steve Young and Tom Jackson. They agreed with Irvin in principle that we have seen the end of Favre's glory days, but they differed on the reason. Young, who probably has the most accurate perspective, said that Favre still has it, but the Packer organization has abandoned him. Jackson blamed the on-field personnel, saying that the Packer organization still truly believes Favre can produce a miracle but that the current team is just too … terrible.

Young makes a good point. The personnel moves of 2005 – no matter how $ound the underlying reason$ were – could not have been intended (realistically) to win a Super Bowl. That finger points directly at Ted Thompson. Jackson hasn't been proven wrong, either. While the team showed signs of life in Week 3 against their toughest competition yet, an 0-3 team can only be described as woeful. As for Irvin, he's living proof that not every ex-player makes a good analyst. I put about as much stock in what he has to say now as I did when he was one of "The Triplets."

All three ESPN commentators made mention of Favre's body language, speech and gray hair as clues that the curtain is coming down.

The hair color Favre can't do much about, unless he takes a cue from former coach Mike Holmgren and starts hawking chemical cures for the follicly-challenged. As for any decline in Favre's spirit, I borrow a line from "Office Space:" I'm going to have to go ahead and disagree with you there.

We have seen many outstanding QBs at the twilight of their career. Often, it wasn't pretty. Those who come to mind are: Johnny U, Dan Marino, Bart Starr, Joe Montana and to a lesser degree Jim McMahon. But the underlying factor in those sad endings was either a player hobbled by injury or a NFL tour which included bench time. Neither of those factors applies to Favre in the slightest.

Favre's saga relates more closely to a guy who still had the desire even when the calendar and the critics said otherwise.

John Elway won Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII in his 15th and 16th seasons. Those championships came long after Elway's initial run, in which he led his team to Super Bowls XXI and XXII while still in his 20s.The Broncos failed to make the playoffs in 1992, 1994 and 1995 and made first-round exits in 1993 and 1996. I'm guessing that when Elway, then into his 30s, went six years in between playoff wins (from the Broncos 1991 AFC wildcard win until the start of their Super Bowl run after the 1997 season), pundits much wiser than Michael Irvin were telling him to throw in the towel.

He didn't listen, and neither should Favre. If he follows the Elway plan, Favre's due for another Super Bowl following the 2007 season. With his back up against the wall at 0-3, this season might be another storm for him to weather. With a little luck in a woeful division, it could just as well be another page in the legend.

Laura Veras Marran

Note: Laura Veras Marran was raised in Green Bay and is a longtime sports writer from Kenosha, Wis. E-mail her at

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