Competitive spirit

Brett Favre continues to wear emotions on his sleeve

The last time I saw Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers this upset was after the fourth and 26 playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles a couple of years back. It was a general manager's decision that time, too, that upset him. Except that Mike Sherman was also coach. Favre and his teammates were about to go the NFC Championship game for the first time since the 1997 season. But Sherman decided not to put his foot on the throat of the tired Philadelphia defense.

It was fourth and short on the Eagles 40 with little time remaining. The Eagles were out of timeouts and the Green Bay running game was tearing them up. The Packers could go for it and put the game on ice, or punt the ball. Sherman chose to punt the ball. We all know what Philly did from that point on. The Eagles completed a fourth and 26 play to help them tie the game, and converted a field goal to force overtime. Philly won in overtime after a Favre interception. That fourth and 26 drive never should have happened. Favre knew this. So did his teammates. Sherman lost his jobs in short order, but he really put himself in a bad light to his players because of this decision.

Did Ted Thompson make a similar mistake in not trading for Randy Moss on draft weekend? Why was Favre so upset? The Moss trade rumors have been going on for a couple of months. Favre was cheerleading for a deal the whole time. Favre and Moss are tight. Favre is also represented by Bus Cook, who was once Moss's agent. It is clear Favre had inside knowledge as to what was happening.

Listen to Favre this last Saturday..."It is disappointing," Favre told Al Jones of the Biloxi (Miss.) Sun Herald during his annual celebrity golf tournament in Tunica, Miss. "It was a done deal and the stories of how we lost him because he didn't want to restructure his contract were not true.

"He was going to wipe his contract clean and sign for $3 million guaranteed, plus a fourth-round draft pick. That would have been a steal. But we were not willing to guarantee part of that $3 million. I even had (agent) Bus (Cook) call up there and tell them I would give up part of my salary to guarantee that part of the money. Apparently that wasn't enough, either."

Moss eventually signed with the New England Patriots as the Pats try and make another Super Bowl run with Tom Brady and company. The decision did not sit well with Favre. "This is a first-class organization that wants to win. I want to win now," he told Jones.

"I just want to win; maybe I see things the wrong way. I don't want to ruffle any feathers and I want people to respect me. Sometimes I think it's hard for them to let Brett go. They might think that we pay him a lot of money, but he still gives us the best chance to win. I've never been told that, but there are times when I wonder if I'm the odd man out here and they just don't know how to tell me."

Then Favre added..."Our offense struggled last season. If it were not for our defense, we would not have won eight games. Right now, it's hard to be optimistic," he told Jones. "I'm not getting any younger and I think everyone knows that. I don't have five years to rebuild. No one in Green Bay is saying rebuild, but it's hard to look at where we are going and say, ‘How can they not be rebuilding?'

"I don't know if I've lost faith, and I think everyone in the organization wants to win. I just don't know if it includes me. If it's going to be five years from now, I'm not going to be here. This is 17 years for me and I want to win." To add insult to injury, Fox.sports reported that Favre had asked for a trade shortly after the draft.

Favre cooled off that speculation on Monday as he gave a press release to the Packers' organization: "I was frustrated a couple weeks back when Randy Moss was traded to New England," Favre said. "I never wanted to be traded and I don't want to be traded. I want to be in Green Bay. I want to finish my career as a Packer. Sometimes when I get frustrated I let my emotions get the better of me.

As I said in February when I announced that I was coming back, I am excited about the young talent on our team and the improvements we're going to see from one year to the next. I really enjoy the young guys I'm playing with. I'm working hard down in Mississippi right now, rehabbing, and I plan to be in the best shape of my life.

"I look forward to playing with this team and seeing what we can do. I think we can be pretty good."

Thompson also gave a statement on Sunday regarding Favre's Saturday comments..."I think it's natural for a player to be frustrated from time to time - that's simply being human," said Thompson. "Everyone knows that Brett Favre is all about winning. As an organization, we share that commitment. And we want to win now."

So how can Thompson make Favre a believer? One step is to hope the 2007 draft class is as good as the 2006 draft class. If that happens, the Packers will be better on defense for sure, and hopefully offense as well. Another step is to add an offensive playmaking free agent or two this summer.

The 2006 season did not look exactly promising to Favre or the Packers as they entered the campaign. Lots of rookie starters, especially in the offensive line. But the Pack finished 8-8, four games better than the 4-12 2005 record. The rookies played well, as did Favre, who played much better than he did during the 2005 season. The same can happen in 2007.

Koren Robinson is still an option at WR and KR once his suspension ends in September. The rookies of 2007 can also help Favre, especially RB Brandon Jackson. I also have a feeling that Favre will enjoy throwing to rookie WR's James Jones and David Clowney. Rookie TE Clark Harris might also settle down the inconsistency at the tight end position.

As I said earlier, the defense should be better with the selections of DT Justin Harrell and S Aaron Rouse and others. Also keep an eye on free agent LB's Rory Johnson and Juwan Simpson, along with drafted LB's Desmond Bishop and Korey Hall. Hall will most likely be given a chance to be a FB in the Green Bay offense, as well as being as special teams demon.

Favre will be fine. All he needs is time to renew his friendship with teammates and introduce himself to new ones. He won't be here for the next mini-camp as he is still rehabbing his ankle and going to his oldest daughter's graduation. But Favre will be in Green Bay soon enough. And Favre will be Favre.

He will always try and win. He won't settle mediocrity, from himself or other players. In fact, as Favre has gotten older, he wears his emotions on his sleeve much more often then he did as he was a younger player. That's why he was so upset regarding the Moss situation. But things can still work out. And I have a feeling that the 2007 season may be better than some suspect for the Packers. I also believe Favre feels this way too, Moss or no Moss. Yes, Moss would have been nice, just like an appearance in the NFC Championship game after the Eagles playoff game. But Favre will still be under center in the 2007, and he is still the best chance for the Packers to succeed. But success will be more apparent if Thompson can add another piece or two to the puzzle before the season.

Bob Fox is a frequent contributor to E-mail him at

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