It's the moment Vikings fans have been looking forward to since the playoffs began last January – the return of the purple and gold to the field in preparation for the 2008 season. The Vikings are hitting the practice field twice today and start the arduous process of training camp.
The team has everyone signed, sealed, delivered and in camp. There should be a ton for fans to be buzzing about. How much of a difference will Jared Allen and Madieu Williams make for the defense? Is Tarvaris Jackson going to be the QB the Vikings have envisioned he will be? How will Adrian Peterson respond in his second season? Will Bernard Berrian be a difference-maker on offense? Can the team win the NFC North title?
Those are the questions that should be bantered about over a cup of coffee in the break room at work or an adult beverage at a local night spot. Instead, the questions all seem to the same – is Brett Favre coming?
Favre has been the topic of conversation since he announced his retirement in March, with many that have a working knowledge of Favre insisting that his retirement would not take. They proved right, as Favre and his agent have been the talk of the NFL more than he has been in years. The bizarre part is that the scuttlebutt has nothing to do with his playing ability, but all to do with his ego.
Having grown up in Minnesota most of my life, I grew to hate the Packers at an early age. They were the sworn enemy. But, I never disliked Favre. I liked the way he played the game and, when possible, I always made sure to get him on my fantasy football teams because of that. He was given the cliché handle of being "a gunslinger" and, while he would throw some amazingly stupid passes at times, he would also complete passes no other QB had the guts to throw. He was a star in every sense of the word and his legacy was cemented.
Or so I thought. The latest series of histrionics has changed that opinion. After years of annually holding the Packers hostage in the offseason as to whether or not he would return for another year, the Packers finally fielded a team that could get him to the Super Bowl – his wish and stated reason for coming back year after year. The Packers hosted the NFC Championship Game and were a breath away from the Super Bowl last year with one of the youngest teams in the league. Yet, Favre walked away from that. It's hard to believe that the Green Bay front office forced him out or that they believe their team would be better without him. Favre had his reasons and doesn't want to return as a backup.
The result has been chaos. The over-emotional Packers fans have taken offense with the coaches and general manager. He has been the top story in places like Minnesota, Chicago and Tampa Bay – all teams that would knock their own starting QB to bench to get him. He has even involved the Vikings in allegations of tampering. Why? To fuel his own ego.
Players have un-retired in the past, but typically it has been after a year or so of sitting out and a change of heart. Favre hasn't missed a game yet, but he remains the center of controversy and turmoil not just for Aaron Rodgers, but the Packers organization, the Vikings, the Bears, the Bucs, the Jets and the fans of all of those teams.
Maybe many Vikings fans would be ecstatic if there was a way to get him to be starting the season opener at Green Bay in a white uniform with purple and gold, instead of the green and gold of the Packers. While it's extremely unlikely it will happen, it was fun to contemplate – for awhile anyway. Now it's getting stale. If Favre wants to cause problems, just show up for training camp when the Packers open practice on Sunday, as NFL Network says he's going to do. If not, just stay retired. People scoffed at the Packers' assertion that Favre could be hurting his legacy. But that is exactly what he's doing. He has displayed a character that says "I don't care about my teammates or our fans. I've earned the right to play wherever I want." Nobody has that right in the NFL. You signed a contract, Brett. Either live up to it or stay retired. The story is getting old and has disrupted the lives of too many teams, coaches and fans. You're going to the Hall of Fame regardless. Quit holding the fans of four or five teams hostage and get on with your life. The longer this drags on, the more fans or yours are being lost. Count me on that list.
Commentary: Just Move On, Brett
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