Brett Favre has retired.
The iconic quarterback is finished. For real this time.
He says he has no interest in playing again. Even for the Minnesota Vikings, for whom he'd get one final chance to "stick it" to the Packers and their general manager, Ted Thompson, while playing for a championship contender.
Pardon me for the sarcasm, but we've been down this road before.
Is Favre one of the five greatest quarterbacks in NFL history? Yes. Did he, along with Reggie White, Mike Holmgren and Ron Wolf, drag the Packers from their pitiful status of among the dregs of the NFL? Of course. Do the Packers play in a gorgeous "new" cash machine named Lambeau Field because of Favre's talent, charisma and charm? You betcha.
But at some point, the "feel good" part of Favre's story disappeared. Maybe it's because his beloved football-coaching father, Irv, wasn't around to keep his son in check. Maybe, the clan surrounding Favre got too much of Favre's ear. Or, maybe the unending and well-deserved adulation from Packers fans — many of whom were all too happy to explain away almost every one of Favre's big-game mistakes — supersized Favre's ego.
Whatever the reason, Brett Favre, circa 2008, isn't the same guy we got to know and love through most of his sterling career in Green Bay.
Do Thompson, coach Mike McCarthy and team President Mark Murphy deserve some blame for how the story came to an end here? Of course.
But — and while I'd rather not dredge up the past, I will just to save time explaining myself to countless e-mailers — much of the blame for the messy divorce falls at the feet of Favre. Favre, after all, retired. Nobody held a gun to his head. And when he first broached the idea of coming back, the Packers were ready to give a green light, only for Favre to have a change of heart. Only after the Packers had drafted two quarterbacks, gone through four weeks of offseason workouts and two minicamps, and firmly plotted their future did Favre say he wanted to come back.
Can anyone say ego?
If Big Irv were around last summer, I can imagine him sitting down with his son and explaining what a precarious position he had placed the team. As the cliche goes, there's no "I" in team, and Favre clearly was placing himself ahead of the club.
This, of course, is old news, and hopefully, to trot out another cliche, time will heal these nasty wounds.
Healing those wounds will be up to Favre, because contrary to popular opinion, it's not like there's a universal revile for Favre at 1265 Lombardi Ave.
Last month, I sat alone in Murphy's office for about a half-hour as he wrapped up another interview in a conference room down the hall. Along with the trophies and championship rings were not one, not two but three photos of Favre. Considering I didn't see any signs that the photos had been used as a dart board, I took it to mean that the Packers — well, Murphy, at least — still have warm feelings toward Favre and for all he's meant to the franchise.
Thus, the first step toward healing those wounds will be for Favre to stay retired.
On Wednesday, NFL.com reported that Favre's agent, James "Bus" Cook, said Favre was retiring "for good." However, Cook reportedly had inquired about the Jets releasing Favre, with the obvious connecting-of-the-dots being that Favre remained interested in joining the Vikings.
Did Cook ask the Jets just for kicks and giggles, or did he do it after talking with Favre?
Assuming it's the latter, all bets are off when the calendar flips to June or July. If Favre remains "pissed" at the Packers — his word — he could come out of retirement, and his $13 million salary for 2009 would push the Jets about that far over the salary cap. The Jets almost certainly would have to release him in that case, which would allow Favre to saunter into Eden Prairie, Minn., in time for training camp and prevent the Jets from having to cough up three first-round picks for dealing Favre to one of the Packers' division rivals.
Thus, Favre showing up in Minnesota remains a very real possibility, considering the anger he harbors toward the team that employed him for the previous 16 seasons.
"They sent me to New York because they didn't play the Jets, they were 4-12, so they didn't have to play me, they knew we had very little chance of making the playoffs and they knew it was not likely that we'd have a better year than they did," Favre told ESPN at the end of the season in quotes the network released on Wednesday.
"I was aware of all of that and more than up to the challenge because they felt they were shipping me off to Siberia and they'd never hear from me again. So, was I coming back to play because I loved the game or to prove them wrong? Probably a little bit of both. Maybe initially I came back for the wrong reasons. It was like, ‘OK, they don't want me to play, then I'll play somewhere else and show them I can still play.'"
Hopefully, Favre will stick to his guns and tune out the family and friends that remain obsessed with how the legend's career ended here. Favre's induction into the Packers Hall of Fame should be the biggest party this town has seen since the Super Bowl parade. It's up to Favre to let the healing begin.
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Lambeau Level forum.