Why Favre will return in 2006

Quarterback is physically capable, and has some major records within reach

Mike Sherman, after answering a number of questions about the future of Brett Favre, best summed it up in one statement: "This has gone on for five years," Sherman told reporters. "This isn't the first year that this has been discussed. Brett is asked this every single year, except maybe the first year I was here. I think from 2001 it's been an ongoing question. It's been years of questioning in regards to Brett's status for next season."

Favre is having a poor season after a number of stellar seasons, which helped him reach legendary status. The ironman has started a record 219 straight regular season games and yet has shown no physical signs of slowing down, despite some hard knocks that he has received from opposing defenses.

Despite the league-leading number of interceptions and low passer rating, Favre still seems to enjoy playing football. He has always said that when it is no fun for him to play, and when his physical abilities decline, he'll walk away. Many around football seem to think that Favre will walk away at the end of this season, just like they thought he would after last season, and the season before that. But he has always returned. Expect Favre to return in 2006 to play quarterback for the Packers.

While Favre has set many records in his pro football career, he is within reach of a few major records held by former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino. Consider:

-- Favre is within 25 touchdown passes of Marino's record of 420.

-- Favre trails Dan Marino on the all-time quarterback wins list by 10. Favre is currently 138-81-0. Marino heads the list at 148-82-1.

-- With a decent season next year, Favre (4,627) could break Marino's record for completions (4,967).

-- With 53,039 total passing yards, Favre is second to Marino's 61,361.

Favre never will admit publicly that the aforementioned records set by Marino mean anything to him. But he has said many times earlier in his career that he wants to be rememebered as the best quarterback ever to play in the NFL when he retires. By breaking a few of those major records Favre will be, at least statistically, the best ever. The future Hall of Famer is the ultimate competitor, and competitors rarely want to be remembered as second-best.

Besides the records, Favre physically is still very capable of playing at least another season, maybe more. His arm is as strong as ever. He has completed passes "against the grain" this season that other quarterbacks can dream of making. He is still fairly mobile in the pocket, and should have run with the ball for first downs on a few instances during games rather than attempt a pass.

"I told him, I said, 'You should be offended when people talk about retirement because physically you're not there.' I believe that," Sherman said.

In addition to his physical ability, Favre will have an offensive line that should be a little more stable next season, and his core of receivers and running backs up and running. This year the Packers' skill positions were hit hard by injuries, which has left Favre without any weapons. The Packers could be in line to go from worst to first in the division by simply avoiding any major injuries that hurt them this year on offense.

Ultimately, Favre's return to the Packers next season boils down to Ted Thompson. If the general manager feels Favre can lead the Packers to a successful season, he'll re-shape the team around Favre. If not, the draft and free agency will be around Aaron Rodgers.

"More than anything, do I want to play?" Favre said on Wednesday. "There's no guarantee next year will be better or worse (from a team standpoint). No one knows that. We run the risk of having the same situation. I don't know what we're going to do personnel-wise, and it's not for me to decide. My commitment has to be to myself and how much am I willing to give to this team."

Favre, Sherman and Thompson will meet soon after Green Bay's final game against Seattle. At that time, they'll discuss the plans for 2006. When all is said and done, count on Favre to return.

Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail your thoughts to him at packrepted@aol.com.

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