Packers quarterback Brett Favre came to the rescue today when he announced he will return in 2007. The story was first broke by the Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss).
"I am so excited about coming back," Favre told the Sun Herald. "We have a good nucleus of young players. We were 8-8 last year and that's encouraging. My offensive line looks good, the defense played good down the stretch. I'm excited about playing for a talented, young football team."
Packers GM Ted Thompson added: "Brett Favre informed me (Friday morning) that he plans to return for a 17th NFL season. The Packers are excited by his decision and look forward to a successful 2007 campaign."
I think I can include Packers Nation, and the rest of the NFL fan base, and say thank you, Brett, for not taking as much time as you did a season ago, when it got into mid-spring before you decided to return in 2006.
Favre, who threw 18 TD passes and 18 interceptions in 2006, gives Packers fans hope 2007 can be a return to the playoffs after a two-year hiatus. Although his numbers weren't scintillating, Favre showed the ability to manage a game, which he failed miserably at in 2005, when he tossed an absurd 29 interceptions.
His 2006 season was an improvement, and if that continues next season there is no reason Favre won't guide the Packers back to the playoffs.
The chances of this happening are good, if 2007 is his last year. If not, Favre would have never decided to return.
Some say he would've come back to attain records, but to go through minicamps, training camp and the rigors of a regular season while your family is living in Mississippi for records … I just don't think Favre would've done that.
He's always wanted to win, and an 8-8 season gives him hope.
Looking at the NFC, Favre may have more than hope. The Bears are the class this season, but we've seen teams, like Carolina, show up one year and fall back the next.
The Giants and Dallas made the playoffs, but don't be surprised if both miss in 2007. Tiki Barber has to be replaced in New York, while the Cowboys are looking for a new coach, who will have to deal with Terrell Owens. That's a disaster waiting to happen.
The NFC talent pool is shallow and the Packers finished the 2006 season as No. 7 in the conference, one spot out of the playoffs. With Favre back, the Packers become a bonafide playoff team – now.
Not only can Favre add another playoff appearance to his resume, he can further entrench himself as one of the top five quarterbacks of all time.
He needs two wins to pass John Elway for most wins as a quarterback and he needs seven TD passes to leap past Dan Marino into the top spot on the all-time TD passes list. Also, Favre has completed more passes than anyone in NFL history and has a record-streak for quarterbacks of 237 consecutive regular-season starts.
Favre's return, however, means backup Aaron Rodgers will have to sit at least another season before becoming an NFL starter. Anybody will agree the Packers are better with Favre under center, but how does Thompson now address the off-season, knowing his quarterback is Favre, not Rodgers?
Does Thompson look for quick fixes on offense to try to reach the Super Bowl in perhaps Favre's last season, or does Thompson continue to build a team which will continue to be competitive for more than one season?
I don't think Thompson changes his tune. Look for him to continue to look for ways to make the Packers a playoff-caliber team beyond 2007.
Whether Favre was going to return, Thompson had to be thinking about improving an offense which lacked playmakers outside of wide receiver Donald Driver in 2006. Most expect the Packers to add a wide receiver and tight end, which not only helps Favre, but Rodgers, if he takes over in 2008.
Speaking of 2008, what are the odds Packers Nation sits on the edge of its seat at this time next year, waiting for another Favre decision? All we know so far is Favre will play in 2007. Nothing has been said about beyond next season.
Based on Favre's retirement talk of the past couple years, don't be surprised if we're all held captive next winter, while Favre ponders the 2008 season. Nonetheless, for now nobody has to worry about 2007, Brett Favre is coming back, the Packers are coming off a solid finish to an 8-8 season and the next logical step is the playoffs.
With Favre's decision made, at least for this weekend we can enjoy the Super Bowl. Packers fans have to think this could be a good weekend. First, Favre announces he's coming back. Can a Bears' Super Bowl defeat be far behind?
Let's hope not.
Doug Ritchay is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.