The Favre dilemma

Under normal circumstances, the Packers, who likely will be drafting high in the first round, would be wise to bench Brett Favre to see what they've got in Aaron Rodgers. These, of course, are not normal circumstances, says's Steve Lawrence.

Lets not beat around the bush. When is it time to replace Brett Favre?

OK, before you start burning me in effigy, let me add this: Im not sure how to answer that question, and, for all the money coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson are making, Im glad I dont have to make the decision.

The one thing Thompson doesnt get enough credit for is drafting Aaron Rodgers. In theory, having Rodgers on the roster means the Packers wont have to take too many steps backward when Favre retires like what happened in Denver when John Elway retired. In theory, the Packers will be able to continue their rise from the ashes without missing a beat.

Thats only a theory, of course, because the Packers really dont know what they have in Rodgers. They hope they know. But they dont know.

Which means, at some point, you have to give the kid a shot, right?

The answer is yes, under most circumstances. But this isnt most circumstances. Were talking about Brett Favre. Legend. Future Hall of Famer. One of the greatest quarterbacks in history. One of the most beloved athletes of our time. One of a handful of people most responsible for turning Green Bay into Titletown again.

Oh, and the guy can still play. Not like he used to, but hes plenty good enough to win games.

Favre, who turned 37 on Tuesday, is anything but over the hill. And, thinking about how the San Francisco 49ers were able to pass the quarterback torch, unless Rodgers was to Steve Young as Favre was to Joe Montana, then Favre gives the Packers their best chance to win games.

And that is, after all, why they bother to keep track of wins and losses.

At 1-4, the Packers season is far from finished. Still, the Packers arent going to the playoffs, and its almost impossible to find a realistic scenario in which they even go 8-8.

But theres something to be said about maybe going 4-4 in the second half of the season, or posting a winning December, or even simply making continued progress.

Favre gives the Packers the best chance to do it. Hes the only quarterback on the roster who can teach the Packers what its like to not just compete, but how to win. Theres no telling how much a couple of late-season wins could mean for Green Bay as it starts work on the 2007 season.

From a purely selfish standpoint, we dont want the Packers to replace Favre. Not yet. We know the Packers are terrible, but theres no way you were thinking of that as Favre dissected the Rams defense in the final 2 minutes on Sunday. We were on the edges of our seats, our palms sweaty, our hearts racing, thinking no, knowing Favre was going to come to the rescue.

We know he didnt, but even in defeat, he showed he can be the difference. Even in defeat, even in a relatively mediocre performance, even with his defensive teammates dropping interceptions as if the football were covered in fire ants, Favre had the Packers in position to beat a good team.

There are other reasons, too. Theres money to be made in the Packers Pro Shop. Theres Favres starts streak. Theres the possibility this is Favres last season, and it just wouldnt be right to see the NFLs ironman quarterback watching from the sideline.

With all of that said, Green Bay will be lucky to win four or five games this season. They will be in position to draft a big-time college quarterback.

How can they make such a franchise-altering decision if they havent a clue if Rodgers is the man for the job?

Playing Rodgers for a series or two per game isnt the answer. If Favre is hot, removing him for even a series could kill the momentum. Besides, the only way to truly test Rodgers is to just give him the keys to the car. Let Rodgers fail once or twice, and then see what hes made of when he gets another chance. Let opposing defenses scheme for him. Let them find his weaknesses, and see if he can counter.

So, you say, let Favre start until December, and then hand the keys to Rodgers. But by that point, Favre will be in position to break Dan Marinos career record for touchdown passes. After five games, Favre is on pace to finish with 418 career TD passes, which are just two shy of Marinos mark. Sure, Favre says the record doesnt matter, but it also would be a slap in his face to let him get so close and then say, Thanks, buddy. Now take a seat.

Thompson and McCarthy are in the awkward position of trying to build a winner while having an aging legend playing the games most important position. I dont have the answers on what to do with Favre. For the sake of all involved and the future of the franchise, lets hope Thompson and McCarthy do.

Lawrence is a regular contributor to Send comments to

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