There's no getting around it: If Brett Favre indeed wants to end his retirement to play an 18th NFL season, then he's about to set off the football equivalent of Mutually Assured Destruction.
Let's say Favre wakes up after this weekend, examines the furor he (or someone in his camp) set off, and decides that, yes, he's ready to endure the rigors of training camp and a long football season. And contrary to what he said when he announced his retirement, maybe being Brett Favre won't be so hard to live up to.
Let's say Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy wake up after this weekend and decide the Packers have come too far this summer to turn back now. The offense has been tailored to fit Aaron Rodgers, and a key second-round draft pick was used on talented quarterback Brian Brohm.
Then, let's say, Thompson and McCarthy think back to a miserably cold January night in Green Bay, when Favre looked like Nanook of the North. Then, they wonder how on earth Favre could ever lead this team to a Super Bowl, knowing the Packers' road to the Super Bowl likely would have to run through the Frozen Tundra.
So, then what? What if Favre wants to play but the Packers don't want him? It'll be like two freight trains running headlong into each other. The carnage will be ugly.
Even though Thompson has resurrected the franchise in the wake of Mike Sherman's series of personnel blunders, he's not exactly the most popular general manager in team history. A vocal minority of fans blame Thompson for Favre's retirement, and the circumstantial evidence from the last several months continues to add weight to that argument.
"He's felt like that for the last couple of years, that the Packers didn't really want him back," Favre's mother, Bonita, told a Milwaukee TV station on Wednesday. "... It just didn't seem like they went out of their way to keep him. It was kind of like, ‘You're done.'"
Whatever gray area that exists in that argument will be eliminated in no uncertain terms if Thompson winds up trading or releasing Favre. How many Super Bowls would it take for that transaction to at least be moved to the second paragraph of Thompson's obituary?
How's this for a worst-case scenario? Favre forces his release from Green Bay, looks at the rest of the NFL, and notices a certain team from Minnesota has a ton of talent but a lousy quarterback? So, on opening night, Favre shows up to see his No. 4 retired while wearing a white jersey with a purple No. 4 emblazoned on the front. That wouldn't be too uncomfortable, would it?
Then, he sticks it to Thompson — who allegedly didn't show him enough love — by leading the Vikings to the division title, and maybe beyond.
While that may be extreme and unlikely, it's quite possible Favre would play well in some remote outpost while Rodgers — facing an even bigger burden as the quarterback who, ahem, ran Favre out of town — struggles. It would be Super Bowl or bust for Rodgers, knowing fans would always be wondering how different things might have been had the Packers welcomed Favre back into the huddle.
Thompson and Co. wouldn't be the only losers, though.
Don't forget how this would tarnish Favre's legacy, at least in Green Bay. Favre bawled his eyes out when he announced his retirement. Fans bought his merchandise and sent him thank-you notes by the hundreds. They've supported him like no group of fans has ever supported a player, through painkillers, stupid passes, poor play in the playoffs and the annual retirement questions.
And Favre repays their adoring and unquestioned love by finishing his career in some jersey other than green and gold? Thanks for nothing.
No, this isn't going to turn out well for anyone. Not when the most beloved person in the history of football's most-storied franchise apparently has an itch to play football four weeks before the start of training camp.
Bill Huber writes for Packer Report. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org