Analysis: It's not so simple

There were three issues in play in making a decision about Brett Favre, with the big one being: Play for today or secure the future.'s Bill Huber breaks down the thought process inside 1265 Lombardi Ave.

How on earth did we get to this point? How did a quarterback, who once vowed he would never play for another team, get to the point where he has asked for his release from a team that signed him to a "lifetime" contract in 2001? For the last several days, even before Brett Favre asked the Green Bay Packers to grant him his release, many fans and national pundits wondered why the Packers weren't jumping at the opportunity to welcome Favre back into the fold.

  The refrain was the same, and it followed the logic of's Gene Wojciechowski in a column he wrote earlier this week:

  General manager Ted "Thompson doesn't want Favre back. Not now. Not after Favre's official ‘It's over' announcement. Not after backup Aaron Rodgers was handed the car keys for the minicamps and OTAs (organized team activities). And not after Thompson dropped Favre from the 80-man roster and then drafted two other quarterbacks. . . .

  "It all makes sense until you ask a simple, essential question: ‘Is my team better or worse with Brett Favre at quarterback?' That's it. Nothing else should matter. Thompson's job is to construct the best possible Packers roster. And if he thinks Rodgers is better than Favre, then Thompson needs to submit his resignation yesterday."

  The thing is, something else does matter. A few things, actually.

  Issue No. 1: Wojciechowski asks, are the Packers a better team with Favre as the quarterback?

  The answer likely is yes. Favre, of course, had one of his finest seasons last year. However, I use the word "likely" for a reason, other than the obvious fact you can't assume a player who will turn 39 on Oct. 10 can keep putting up Pro Bowl-type numbers.

  During the first 11 regular-season games last season, Favre threw 22 touchdown passes against eight interceptions. During the last five regular-season games, Favre threw six touchdowns and seven interceptions. Was that the sign of age catching up to Favre? Was that the mental fatigue that brought on his retirement in March?

  Maybe. But, let's just assume Favre remains an ageless wonder and can match those 2007 stats and lead the team back to the playoffs.

  That brings us to Issue No. 2: Can the Packers win big in the postseason with Favre? To get to the Super Bowl, the Packers likely will have to win a home playoff game or two, and global warming notwithstanding, it tends to get cold in January.

  No doubt you recall how miserable Favre looked at Chicago late in the season and again in that NFC championship game. While Favre was woeful in the bitter elements, the Bears' Kyle Orton was efficient and the Giants' Eli Manning was superb.

  And then there's Favre's struggles in his last 10 years of playoff games: 16 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, 3-6 record. Some of those struggles stem from Favre trying to do too much while piloting an overmatched team. Still, he hasn't exactly made a habit of lifting the Packers on his shoulders against elite teams.

  And finally, and most importantly, Issue No. 3:

  You can debate this until the cows come home, and there is no right or wrong answer to the quandary that likely is weighed most heavily on Thompson and Co.: Do you play for today with Favre or go with Rodgers, who might provide many years of championship opportunities.

  Play for today, and the Rodgers era is over before it started. Either Thompson will have to trade him to avoid a locker-room-killing controversy or Rodgers, tired of being jerked around, is out of here once his contract expires after the 2009 season.

  So then where are you? At least with Rodgers, the Packers think they have a quality quarterback — he did outplay Favre at Dallas last season, for what it's worth. They haven't a clue about rookie Brian Brohm, though those wobbly passes during OTAs and minicamps must be cause for at least a little concern.

  It's hard to argue against the merits of putting all of the eggs in No. 4's basket and playing for 2008 — then deal with 2009 or 2010 when they come. The Packers are talented enough to win it all this season, and some of the team's most important players aren't exactly spring chickens, so why not go for it? There's a big difference between thinking Rodgers can do it and knowing Favre can do it.

  Except, nothing is guaranteed in the NFL. And if you don't win the Super Bowl this season with Favre, then 2008 is a compete disaster because your quarterback of the future is some other team's quarterback for today.

  So, the choice wasn't quite as simple as some made it sound. There were plenty of good reasons to bring back Favre. Unfortunately for the Packers, there were just as many good reasons to start a new era.

  Bill Huber writes for Packer Report. E-mail him at

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