Fran Tarkenton was interviewed this week on Radio 790 The Zone out of Atlanta and was asked for his take on the NFL topic that has been reported and debated ad nauseum over the past few weeks.
"I think it's despicable. What he put the Packers through last year is not good," Tarkenton said. "Here's an organization that was loyal to him for 17, 18 years, provided stability of organization, provided players. It just wasn't about Brett Favre. But, you know, in this day and time, we have glorified the Brett Favres of the world so much, they think it's about them."
The 69-year-old Hall of Fame quarterback didn't think much of the way Favre conducted himself in New York while working for the Jets. And he wasn't impressed by his performance, either.
"He goes to New York and bombs," he said. "He goes and runs up to the Jets, doesn't even dress in the locker room of the players, has a separate facility."
"I kind of hope it happens so he can fail," Tarkenton added.
The former Giants and Vikings quarterback, who was a nine-time Pro Bowler, played for 18 seasons before hanging up his helmet and his cleats for the last time following the 1978 season. He was 38 at the time, a year younger than Favre is now, so he can relate to the wide range of emotions that a star player goes through after a long career as he faces the point in his life where retirement from the game is looming. But Tarkenton obviously thinks Favre has become too self-centered and selfish.
"He told the Packers, ‘I'm retiring'. And they've got to move on. They've got to go to the offseason plan, their workouts, they go to the other quarterback, who's a good player," he said. "And then he comes back and says, 'I think I want to play.'
"You build your team in the offseason, everybody knows that. It's about team, it's not about Brett Favre. So playing quarterback — it's like life — it's about relationships you have with your coaches, with your players, with your trainers, with your managers. How can you do that if you show up on game day and you haven't put the time in? And now he's trying to do it again in Minnesota."
While Tarkenton acknowledges that Favre has had an impressive career, he's not totally impressed with him as a quarterback.
"But you get into a position, and I understand, he's been glorified so much, he's been a great player, there's no question about it. But it's all about him, and it's supposed to be all about your team," he said. "I think he has been a flamboyant, great quarterback. But he has made more stupid plays than any great quarterback that I've never seen.
"Look at his final game in a Packers uniform, he blew that game against the Giants. He's playing against Eli Manning — and I love Eli Manning, but he's still not a great quarterback, he's not Peyton yet, or Tom Brady — he's just a guy. And they're playing at home. And they're in a tight situation that went to overtime and he throws the interception that allows them to come back and win the game. A few years ago in a playoff game against Philadelphia, he throws a Hail Mary of about 20 yards, 40 yards up in the air and cost them the game. And again, in the fourth quarter of the playoffs. He has driven his coaches crazy all of his career."
Tarkenton said he couldn't have imagined retiring from the Vikings and then signing a contract to play for the Packers. It was obvious from his comments that he didn't feel that Favre had done his part to be loyal to the organization that had helped him build the type of career that will inevitably land him in the Hall of Fame.
"He should be grateful to Green Bay, stable, all-time great organization. And he just treated them horribly last year and now he wants to get revenge. Isn't that fun?" he said. "And still, they're not sure what he is ultimately going to do. So, Minnesota is willing to sit on the fence because now he's saying, 'Well I'm going to try to rehab the bicep, I don't want to have surgery.'
"So, still, typical Brett Favre."
Let the games begin
Honestly, I thought Tarkenton's comments were out of line, even though I've grown as weary of the annual Brett Favre retirement announcements as anyone. While I respect Tarkenton's wonderful career, part of the basis for his argument seems to be that it's wrong for a player to retire from a team where he's had a great career, and then come back to play for a division rival.
And that's just ridiculous.
Brett Favre waves to the fans in New York
He's right that Green Bay made every effort to make sure Favre wasn't going to reconsider before turning the keys to the Packers' offense over to Aaron Rodgers. And Favre did make a mess of things by reversing his decision, and trying to return to Green Bay.
But I don't fault Favre for being human and deciding he had made a mistake. That said, I'm certainly among those who believe he has handled his on-again, off-again retirement like a child who craves the spotlight a bit too much, creating way too much drama. But that doesn't mean that he shouldn't play for the Vikings or whoever is interested in offering him a contract.
I'd also argue that Favre didn't "bomb" in New York, as the Hall of Fame quarterback contends. He finished 11th in the league in passing yards, had the fifth-best completion percentage and finished ninth in touchdown passes. The big dent in his armor was his league-leading 22 interceptions, but he's thrown more than 20 picks in six of his 18 NFL seasons. That's not a great statistic by any means, but not one that so badly overshadows those other categories that you should throw Favre into a dumpster.
Tarkenton went beyond intelligent football commentary and into an area that made him seem petty, especially when he stated that he kind of hopes after all that Favre goes to Minnesota "so he can fail." His best point out of his entire tirade was that Favre should strive to start working with new teammates as early as possible to give his new team — and himself — the best chance at winning a Super Bowl. But with Favre's bicep, it certainly complicates the issue.
If Brett Favre can play football and the Minnesota Vikings or any other team wants to sign him, it'll be good for that team's fan base and for the NFL. Favre showed everyone last year that he still has the enthusiasm to play and he's still really fun to watch.
And let's not forget that ultimately, football is entertainment. So, if Favre and the Vikings work out a deal for him to play in Minnesota this year, let the games begin.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the Scout.com network and at FOXSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter or Facebook. Or contact him by email through this link.