Chances are, Brett Favre had this planned all along.
Use the Jets for one season to get to Minnesota. One year of exile in the Meadowlands for eventual vengeance against Ted Thompson with the Vikings. Favre used the Eric Mangini harder than Tony Almeida.
At this point, Favre doesn't care how many railbirds and cheeseheads he is alienating. Conscience isn't an issue. His mysterious shoulder is. Well, at least according to the latest twist to the made-for-TV story.
It's a personal crusade. It's love for the game. Whatever your opinion, Favre wants to come back. Returning to the football field is no longer some minor mosquito bite that could be satisfied by a one-year scratch in the AFC. Favre has poison ivy. And the only cure for this bitterness toward Thompson is to wear repulsive purple and gold. Favre is willing to play for the team he grew to hate for 16 years. Yes, the same team whose fans once shined lasers in his eyes all game in the Metrodome.
That's just how much Favre wants to stick it to the man who stonewalled his return to Green Bay.
But amidst the growing buildup of Favre's possible return to Lambeau Field on Nov. 1, people are forgetting that this ongoing melodrama has another angle. All last summer, Aaron Rodgers had to put up with 30 of us pestering reporters suffocating his locker day-in and day-out. For some 20 or 25 minutes, he was peppered with questions about a legend trying to hijack his job.
But Rodgers never struck a verbal low blow at Favre — quietly shielding any anger beneath a Californian grin. People know Favre's aw-shucks shrug. This was new. In demeanor alone, Rodgers had moved on as the leader.
He'd probably never admit it, but odds are Rodgers would love to stick it to Favre himself.
After posting Pro Bowl-caliber numbers in his first season as a starter, Rodgers no longer needs to prove himself to outsiders. Sure, the weekly struggles in the fourth quarter stung. Rodgers doesn't possess that foot-on-the-jugular, Mariano Rivera-like closing ability yet. But make no mistake about it, Rodgers is for real. Thompson rightfully doled out a six-year, $65 million contract to him in late October. The future is secure. Rodgers effectively stepped out of Favre's shadow, albeit in a 6-10 letdown season.
For Rodgers, it's all about meeting landmarks. Different challenges, head on. Favre had to beat the publicly advertised painkiller addiction, heebie-jeebies in the Metrodome and annual broken appendages, among other obstacles. If Favre does indeed suit up for Minnesota this season, it'd be great for Rodgers' development. Not touchy-feely awkwardness at all.
Rodgers isn't the type to coil into paranoia. Last summer's circus show didn't dent his confidence. With nothing but one spot fill-in at Dallas to show for, Rodgers never second-guessed himself. Not even when Favre's plane flew into Green Bay the same day he fluttered ducks all over Lambeau Field on Family Night. After throwing for more than 4,000 yards with 32 total touchdowns, we now know that Rodgers' confidence wasn't blind.
That swag would crank up to a whole new level if he gets a chance to knock out No. 4 in his stadium, with his team.
The pro-Favre fans (yes, maybe even those zany two brothers with the megaphones sitting on Vince Lombardi's statue before the Cincinnati preseason game) would turn. It'd be like Rocky winning over the Soviets in his beating on Ivan Drago. Just give A-Rod a mic at midfield after the game ("If I can change! And you can change! Everybody can change!") Ahh, classic scene.
It's not debatable that the 25-year-old Rodgers is better than the 39-year-old Favre for the long term. At best, Favre's rocket arm has two or three years of juice left. But if Rodgers can cement the Packers' supremacy in the NFC North — now — over the Favre-led Vikings, it'd be an everlasting springboard for his career.
A pair of take-that wins against his former "mentor" would be a humbling message to all that it doesn't really matter where Brett Favre is. New York, Minnesota, on a John Deere, at the fishing hole, in a broadcasting, wherever. With Rodgers, the future is just fine in Green Bay.
Then again, if the X-rays come back positive, bring on Tarvaris and Sage!
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Tyler Dunne writes for Packer Report. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The A-Rod angle on Favre saga
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