Favre's loyalty is admirable

Brett Favre told the media Wednesday that he probably would not welcome a trade to another team during this season, like Tampa Bay or Washington. PackerReport.com's Matt Tevsh gives his take on Favre's comments, explaining how the quarterback will hopefully inspire his younger teammates.

There are so many reasons Brett Favre has endeared himself to not only Packers' fans, but football fans around the country. His excitement for the game, improvisation, and strong arm are just a few of those reasons discernable on game days to millions of people.

One reason not visible like those mentioned above, though, is his loyalty.

In what could be the worst season for the Packers during Favre's 15-year tenure in Green Bay, this season would seem to be a natural time for Favre and the team to move on. While the argument could easily be made to start the Aaron Rodgers era sometime this year, Favre's loyalty to the Packers is hard to discount. It makes him the ultimate team player in a sport increasingly full of individuals. That may be why he never leaves the starting lineup or plays for another team.

At his press conference on Wednesday, Favre was asked a hypothetical question regarding a possible trade to another team if general manager Ted Thompson were approached with such an offer. After a short pause accompanied by a half-smile of almost disbelief, he responded: "First of all, I don't ever foresee that happening. Would I go? I don't think so. I really don't."

Over the past three weeks, Favre has at least opened the door to playing for another team in an interview on HBO with Bob Costas and during a press conference with the local media in Green Bay (saying he was "99.9% sure" that it would not happen). On Wednesday, though, Favre sounded like he is gaining a new perspective on this season and the Packers organization, even if things are not going quite so well at the moment.

"To learn a new system, to basically start over, the expectations would be so great," continued Favre with the hypothetical line of questioning. "And people may say, ‘Hey, your season's not going the way you would like it here at least you could go somewhere else and take a chance at winning.' Well, I'm taking that chance now. My career here has been great and we have won a lot of games, won a championship. It's been everything and then some, and to start over and do that somewhere else, I know how difficult it is, and the expectations, ‘Okay, we got Brett, we're going to the Super Bowl.' Well, it's a lot harder than that. In that situation, you don't get to the Super Bowl, you don't play up to expectations, then it was a loss – I think from my standpoint and the team who would make that trade. I mean, I'd much rather stay here and give it my best. The fans have been great to me, the team has been great to me, and I'd like to think I've filled my end of the bargain as well. But there's still some juice left in me here and just because we're struggling right now, I'm not going to bail just like that. Whether or not this team gets back to playoff or Super Bowl contention anytime soon, from my end, I've got to do what I can now and maybe that carries over leadership-wise in the future for Aaron (Rodgers) or some of the other guys who were not around during those years."

Favre still has the ability to play and lead an offense, only showing signs of slowing down with his elusiveness in trying to avoid would-be sackers. Through seven of eight quarters in two games, he has been more than commendable, yet the Packers are 0-2. It would be understandable if Favre wanted to play on another team with a better chance for a winning season, but as the first month of the season has progressed, it looks like he will stay put, even with trade possibilities. If Thompson has even thought about trading Favre (and he would not be out of his mind if he did) Favre's most recent public comments make him less and less attractive to other teams and more and more valuable to the Packers.

What only makes Favre's status with the Packers difficult to comprehend is where the team is going. It is young, making a push for the future, and he is a veteran, much closer to retirement than another Super Bowl. Trading him might bring a second-round pick, and a chance for Rodgers to play, but it would also send a mixed message of what kind of players the Packers are looking for to build their team. Even if Favre seems to be out of place in age and experience on this year's roster, do the Packers not want to build a team of players with such devotion to their team as Favre to his? Head coach Mike McCarthy said as much when he stated his mission was to find "Packer People" to build his team. There is no better example than Favre.

Maybe former head coach Mike Sherman was on to something when he stubbornly stuck with Favre through a dreadful season a year ago. He never lost his team though his team lost the season. Favre embodied Sherman's attitude, and the example Favre can set this year may be more valuable than giving away playing time to Rodgers. It may be more indispensable in the long run to a core group of young players who will try to get the Packers back to the Super Bowl.

With the onset of the current system of free agency in the early 1990's and the spending boom it gave way to, loyalty went out the door. Players are now tempted more than ever by up-front money and the quick fix, something not as luring before the modern system was in place. Favre has been one of players paid handsomely under the current financial structure, but he has always restructured his contract to help the team and could have demanded even more if he wanted to. Unlike almost every other player paid similarly to him, though, he has stuck with one team. That is a rarity and has been an overlooked component of his career when compared to his playing style. Of all the other superstars in the NFL, only a few players (among them Tom Brady, Ray Lewis, Peyton Manning, and Donovan McNabb) can reasonably be expected to finish their careers with the same team.

Favre has even opened up more as a locker room leader in recent weeks with the controversial signing of Koren Robinson, a wide receiver who has had issues with alcohol and could be facing a year-long suspension by the NFL. Normally more reserved in the locker room, Favre approached Robinson at his locker, when no one else was around, on the night the new Packer arrived in Green Bay.

"I just told him, ‘Hey, if you ever need someone to talk to, if you ever want to,' because I'm sure there's so many people giving him advice, telling him what he needs to do and not do, but I said, ‘If you ever need to talk to someone, our situations are probably different, but yet the same, feel free to talk to me.'"

Favre got his priorities in order earlier is his career when a drinking problem was beginning to affect his family life and an addiction to Vicodin forced him into rehabilitation. Like Robinson is hoping to do in Green Bay, Favre made a change and grew as a person.

Favre has gone back and forth with some of his comments and decisions this year, but his loyalty always seems to win out. Indications on Wednesday were that he is putting the "playing for another team" talk to rest. The Packers and other teams around the league should be getting the message.

Matt Tevsh

Editor's note: Matt Tevsh is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at matttevsh@hotmail.com.

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