This one is going to hurt.
This Favre thing is many things to many people; Annoying, Intriguing, Maddening, Disappointing, etc. They all come to mind.
But, of course, I have not written much about this because I was convinced at first that the media was spending too much time speculating. Well, it is now obvious that this is all no longer speculation – but rather fact – Brett Favre wants to continue to play football. So you want to know what I think? Well, despite the disagreements this will start, here you go:
First, a few questions. Why would he ever retire if it seems obvious to most of us that he never wanted to? Why would he spend the better part of the last 3 springs appearing to be one of the biggest drama queens in sports? Why would he risk his image of arguably the most beloved athlete in the nation so much that many people cannot even stand the mention of his name these days? I have my theories…
But first, an email from a Packers fan:
Im still confused. I now feel hatred in my heart toward Favre. I hate his complete sorriness and total lack of respect for his teammates, his managers, coaches and the state of Wisconsin! I feel for Rodgers most of all. Favre disappointed me with his recent display of sorriness. He needs to move to Missisippi and never step foot in WI again! The D-bag needs a hobby or anti-depressants cause he aint all there. I have decided that if The Packers cave and give into Favre's demands, then I will have a cheesehat burning ceremony at my house. 30 years of being a loyal fan and I will turn my back on them as fast as Favre did.
This guy is a hardcore Packers fan, and like many I have heard from, they are sick and tired of Brett. They are sick and tired of his drama, and they want him to go away. Think about that! It is not uncommon for a fan base to turn on a player who isn’t happy with his money or his geography, but the last several springs have so wore down some of his fans that they prefer their most beloved hero goes away rather than returns.
It is amazing how the Favre approval rating has fallen. Honestly, this is an odd story in that Favre has fallen out of favor, but also an altogether familiar story in that 100% of the time, when a fan must choose between his favorite athlete and his favorite team, he will always take the team’s side it would seem.
Not me. This thing has smelled for 3+ years. And now it has gone ugly, and I suggest it has very little to do with how Brett Favre has handled this thing. Rather, I would like to take a look at the 2007 NFL Executive of the year, Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson. Thompson was hired by the Packers in 2005, and he honestly had a tough job ahead of him. Mike Sherman (yes, that one) was inexplicably given both the head coach and general manager roles for the Packers, and was not very good at either in many respects. His record (57-39) will indicate that he was really good, but his in-game strategy was poor, and worst than anything else, his drafting was flat out sad. So, the Pack needed a GM.
Thompson came in and really has turned that around. His drafting has been really solid, and he has stocked this team with plenty of young talent. But, if there are two things that have troubled many (including me), it would be the following:
1) His refusal to use free agency to supplement his team’s talent with “ready” players despite huge amounts of cap room.
2) His inability to handle dealing with Brett Favre.
Let’s examine his work in these two categories.
In 2005, the Packers payroll was 21 million below the cap, and ranked 31st in the NFL. They signed free agents Adrian Klemm and Matt O’Dwyer in the off-season. Both were minimal signings who did not have any impact on the team. The Packers went 4-12.
In 2006, the Packers were more aggressive, signing Charles Woodsen to a big money deal and Marquand Manuel, Ben Taylor, and Ryan Pickett to contracts as well. Despite 15 million under the cap after all of the signings, they still did not add a single player to the offense.
And in 2007, with a payroll that ranked 24th in the league, and still over 11 million under the cap, Thompson signed but one free agent during the off-season; Frank Walker – a cornerback who hardly played.
In 3 years as General Manager, with a combined 47 million dollars to work with, Thompson did not acquire a single veteran player to aid the offense of the Green Bay Packers. Not one. Heck, Randy Moss practically asked to go to Green Bay, and Thompson would not make a trade with Oakland to acquire him, instead letting Moss put up one of the most prolific years in NFL history with New England.
As a point of comparison, since being hired as the Packers GM, the combined payroll over 3 years has been $259 million. Dallas over the same amount of time has spent $302 million. An average $14 million per season less in player salaries can buy weapons that might help your QB take a final run at glory. Jerry Jones certainly committed to his veteran QB in 1999 with the Joey Galloway deal – but Ted Thompson decided to let Favre twist in the wind with 0 veteran player acquisitions to the offense in 3 years. Which has lead to his 2nd department of short comings….
Dealing with Favre:
There is no “how to” manual for dealing with an icon. Cal Ripken caused Baltimore plenty of awkward moments. Michael Jordan, Dan Marino, and even locally on a lesser scale with Mike Modano has proved that there is no easy way to ease the face of the franchise out of the mix if he is not ready to go. But, if you feel how you feel, then you must commit to it. General Manager is not a position for everyone, and if you think you cannot handle a tough conversation with your star, then perhaps it is not for you.
As I could see it, when Thompson took over the team with a 36 year old Favre, he had 2 choices. Tell Favre to take a hike (especially after the 4-12 season of 2005 when everyone said Favre was washed up – even though nobody except Donald Driver player more than 8 games at the skill positions) or you commit to plug any holes with money and help and build as good a product as possible around your QB. This way, if he is done, he will prove it. And if he is not, you will win.
He did neither. Figuratively, He didn’t marry the girl, and he didn’t break up with her. He merely led her on. That is the worst choice of all.
So, Favre, in Kobe Bryant type fashion got tired of getting his clock cleaned each week, getting blamed for all of the results, and then watching his General Manager preach the virtues of building through the draft. I am not saying the draft isn’t the answer, because it is. But it is seldom the immediate answer. Usually, the kids need plenty of seasoning (Bobby Carpenter, anyone?) and just like Kobe didn’t want to hear about how great Andrew Bynum was going to be, Favre didn’t care to hear how drafting Aaron Rodgers helped the offense.
Kobe claimed he wanted to be traded. Favre claimed he wanted to retire. Neither really meant it, but that was their only play to get their teams to resolve their issues. It might be a sorry idea to try to use your power to tell your bosses what to do, but they both felt it was their only play.
Did it turn the public against both of them? Sure. Did it work for Kobe? You decide. I think it did.
It won’t work for Favre, I don’t think. But, after 3 off-seasons of nothing from his team to help him, and then seeing that they still took all of those kids and went to the NFC title game, he just wanted to hear from Thompson that they were going to do whatever it took to take the final step.
What did Thompson do? Signed nobody this past spring. In fact, cut Bubba Franks and traded DT Corey Williams. That is right, they subtracted. With tons of cap room.
So Favre retired. He retired because since the day Ted Thompson was hired, he was
given no help to move the team in the right direction. Name another team that has gone 42 months without signing a single offensive free agent. I bet you can’t. He had enough of this team not seeming to mind the downward spiral.
But, now he wants to play football, because he knows he still can - at a very high level. Not for Green Bay in my opinion, and I don’t think Ted Thompson wants him back. If the Packers have decided that Aaron Rodgers gives them a better chance, then I say A) they are stupid and B) they should let Favre go.
Should they let him go to Minnesota or Chicago? No, but they should let him go to Tampa Bay, Carolina, or Baltimore. If Green Bay wanted him back, he would still be their QB, and he never would have retired. But, they told him and showed him that they prefer he leaves, so why be so petty as to keep him from playing? That would show very little respect for 16 years of high quality play where Packers fans experienced just 1 losing season.
So, my opinion? Thompson should swallow his pride and welcome Favre back for another run. But, if he doesn’t want Favre back, though it would make me ill, they need to Free Brett Favre. I don’t want to see him in another uniform, but I also don’t want him forever bitter at the franchise. This is certainly ugly.
How much of this has to do with Green Bay maybe wanting Favre out the last few years? In '05 and '06 he had horrible years. I know Green Bay would have been ok with him retiring, but Brett wasn't going to go out like that. He earned the right to play. And maybe Green Bay was thinking "what a great year last year. But we think '05 and '06 were more respective of what we expect". Since he won..he goes out on top and we can finally move on (assuming that they are expecting the Favre of 05 and 06). The Pack gave Favre that extra 2 years...and he should be happy.
Not saying I agree with it...but is any of that floating around?
And no way the GM can let him play anywhere but Green Bay. That would be his legacy...period! Absent of Rodgers winning 2 Super Bowl's...that GM is done. Think Jerry Faust and Notre Dame...he's defined by that failure.
Many old timers here in Dallas still HATE Jerry Jones because of the way he did Tom Landry. Even though they won 3 Super Bowls..there is a ton of Jerry Haters by life long Packer fans.
GM needs to hope Brett goes away...or Favre is starting and the GM is gone. High stakes Poker
Do you really want the Packers to just let Favre go without getting anything for him? Come on, I love Favre as much as the next fan but the guy has played wishy-washy with the team for 3 years now and now wants to play the "poor me, let me go" card. If you had a business that had something of value to others wouldn't you want to get something out of the deal if they left? Wasn't it Favre who told the likes of Javon and Sterling to live up to their contracts, no player is bigger then the team? While were at it what are the lies and half-truths Favre speaks about in regards to Packer management? I knew Greta wouldn't grill him on those statements (possibly the weakest interviewing I've ever seen) and it doesn't seem like anyone will because of who he is. Green Bay will survive with or without him (it did for 70+ years before he showed up). Bring on the Queens!
Jim in Frisco
Of course they , the packers, should bring Favre back. Who the heck is Aaron Rogers. I'll tell you this, if Staubach would have shown up at halftime of the Redskin game, which if memory serves was white's firstgame as the man, if I'm Tom,I'm telling Danny "go practice your punting son". Ron
Ok, now that is done. Here are some links….
2nd Place! 2nd Place! The Rangers are in 2nd place! I don’t know how they won last night, as the White Sox must have set a major league record for “fly balls that went all the way to the wall” and “untimely double plays”, but nevertheless, a win in Chicago to start the series.
Big shot by Hamilton helps get the win …
If the Rangers want to go on a memorable second-half run this season, they should follow the script from Monday's 6-1 win over the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox.
It was a three-act play of solid pitching, big two-out hits (powerful ones, too) and crisp fielding. And in a city with a famous theater district, the Rangers turned in an impressive performance.
It put the Rangers in second place in the AL West for the first time since the first week of the season, a half-game up on Oakland. The club hasn't had at least a share of second place this late in the season since Aug. 16, 2006.
"That's playing baseball," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "The real key is how you pitch."
Scott Feldman, the Rangers' version of the versatile understudy who's ready for any role, was forced to play the lead on short notice when Eric Hurley couldn't pitch because of a sore arm and shoulder. Feldman was unfazed.
He allowed one run on four hits in six innings. He didn't have his best stuff, but three timely double plays helped Feldman get out of jams. At times, he needed every foot of U.S. Cellular Field to keep fly balls from turning into homers, but he was steady and got the job done.
He left with a 3-1 lead thanks to Josh Hamilton's two-out homer to center field in the third inning. Hamilton drilled a fastball from Chicago starter Javier Vazquez to the deepest part of the ballpark. Michael Young had taken a close 3-2 pitch for a ball to get Hamilton to the plate.
Hamilton is batting .363 with runners in scoring position and two outs. He was one of only 13 AL batters with a .350 average or higher in those situations coming into Monday's game. It was his fourth homer with a runner in scoring position and two outs, which leads the AL.
Checking in on Nolan Ryan …
If the first 100 – days in government, games in baseball – determine a president's legacy, Nolan Ryan has officially etched his with the Texas Rangers.
As the club reached 100 games Monday with a winning record, here's how Ryan sums up his impact:
"I think I've had very little impact on baseball operations," he said by phone from his home in Georgetown, Texas. "I think we needed to give the game plan some time to work. I think my biggest priority was in improving employee morale, the fan's experience and their attitude about where we are going. I think you are seeing that."
Though attendance is down sharply from last year, Ryan pointed to an increased energy and interest from the fan base. Though average attendance is down about 6,572 fans per game, the park has seemed livelier since the Rangers rebounded from an awful 7-16 start.
The Rangers were 20.8 percent behind last year's figure of 1,417,935 through 45 home dates. It should be noted, however, that the two biggest draws of the season, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, have not appeared yet in Arlington. Last year at this point, they had already completed all eight dates against the Rangers. The Rangers have seven upcoming home dates against New York and Boston.
Ryan, who didn't join the club until early February, relatively late in the season-ticket sales campaign, has spent most of his time trying to win back fans. He's made personal phone calls to some ticket holders and has been an animated presence in the front row of almost every home game. Ryan is also hoping to soon announce more improvement to the fan experience. His two most significant hires have been vice presidents Dale Petroskey and Rob Matwick, both of whom will work on the business side.
"Nolan is slowly but steadily putting his style of leadership in place," owner Tom Hicks said. "He's shown his commitment to making the Texas Rangers a first-class baseball club, on and off the field and brings a level of credibility to the club that we haven't had in the past."
On the baseball side, Ryan said he's learned some patience. The recovery after the early-season crisis that almost led to the firing of manager Ron Washington and much of the staff has reinforced that need. At general manager Jon Daniels' behest, Ryan and Hicks gave the club some time to recover. Since April 25, the Rangers rank fourth in the majors in winning percentage.
"There aren't any quick fixes; what happened after April reaffirmed that," Ryan said. "I'm happy with the way the club is playing. I think we've seen some fans rejuvenated and some more energy at the park. I'm proud of that."
Remember Nelson Cruz? …
What in the world are the Rangers going to do about Nelson Cruz? In Oklahoma's 6-5 win over Memphis, the guy homered for the third straight game (he has five in three games) since the Triple-A All-Star break. He's got 31 homers now, one shy of the minor league lead. He leads the PCL in OPS at 1.153, nearly 100 points higher than his closest competition.
He should be getting another final look at the majors, though I don't know that even then you can be convinced one way or another about him. The only real option for him to get that look with the Rangers would be to send Brandon Boggs back down and have Cruz face lefties the rest of the season. And though Boggs is hitting .251, the guy does bring a certain energy to the clubhouse and to the lineup.
I still think Cruz is going to have at least one really impressive season in the majors, but he may float around and around until a desperate team gives him that chance. I can't help but wonder this: If the Rangers dealt Milton Bradley, is it at all possible that they have their right-handed hitting middle-of-the-order bat for 2009 sitting in the system right now? His major league stats say no; but Cruz only turned 28 three weeks ago. He's entering what most people consider the prime of a player's career. Might he be ready to finally bust out?
For reasons that you may not understand (I was going through old ticket stubs last night), here is the boxscore for arguably the most famous baseball game I have ever attended: Nolan Ryan’s 300th win in Milwaukee – July 31, 1990 …
Big NFC East Questions …sorry Redskins, but your question was boring…
Can the Dallas Cowboys find a legitimate No. 2 wide reciever?
The Cowboys could make the case for being the best team in the NFC and possibly the NFL, so their problems aren't as severe as others. While some teams are struggling to find a top guy, the Cowboys were fourth in the league in pass offense and return the same skill players. Still, there are concerns at wide receiver. While veteran Terrell Owens is still a solid No. 1, Dallas needs to find a consistent threat on the other side.
Teams will often shade the free safety to Owens' side, but late in the season, opponents also bracketed Jason Witten, who is one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the league, which really slowed this offense down. Patrick Crayton, last season's No. 2, put up good numbers (50 catches and 7 TDs), but is not a big playmaking threat. Backup developmental receivers Miles Austin and Sam Hurd will push Crayton for that spot this season and finding that complementary receiver to take pressure off Owens and Witten will be a huge lift to an offense that struggled late in the season.
How do the New York Giants replace Michael Strahan?
Replacing the future Hall of Fame defensive end will not be an easy task, but the likely candidate is versatile defensive lineman Justin Tuck. He finished last season with 10 sacks, but the majority of Tuck's sacks came from inside as a defensive tackle with the Giants sub-packages. While inside, Tuck was also able to benefit from seeing more single blocks with Strahan (nine sacks) and Osi Umenyiora (13 sacks) working the edges. While Tuck is a solid, run-down base DE, he does not possess the quickness to be a consistent edge rusher. His quickness is more noticeable inside at DT.
The Giants were able to have success in the postseason with a mediocre back end because of their ability to create pressure. Without Strahan taking up a double-team on every down, it will force defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to come up with ways to create pressure and improve the defensive line. Also, one overlooked factor is the leadership Strahan provided. His ability to see tendencies and formations, then relay it to the players while on the field, will be hard to replace. His work with younger players off the field will be missed too.
Can the Philadelphia Eagles finally find a No. 1 receiver?
Philadelphia has not hidden the fact it believes it needs to find a top receiver for Donovan McNabb. They pursued numerous veteran options during the offseason. But even with that pursuit, it doesn't mean the Eagles found one. The two best receivers on the roster right now do not fit that profile. Reggie Brown is inconsistent and Kevin Curtis is not very physical. Curtis is more of a No. 2 than a No. 1 and would clearly benefit from a receiver on the other side who could draw some double coverage, something Brown can't do.
They drafted DeSean Jackson in the second round of the draft, but he's still unsigned, and until he gets in camp there's no way to know if he can develop into a playmaker for McNabb. Without a true No. 1 receiver, one of the biggest challenges for head coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will be developing the offense to play away from the receivers' weaknesses. Teams that employ a lot of man-press-coverage techniques, which grounded the Eagles offense last season, could have success because neither Brown nor Curtis are physical enough to get away from that style of play. Look for the Eagles to add more motion into the system, allowing the receiver in motion to get a cleaner release and be more productive in the Eagles' intermediate passing game.
Wade Phillips talks smack …
In front of a large group of high school and youth football coaches, Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips spoke with unbridled optimism about the upcoming season and even said, "Get the ring finger ready."
He was playing to the crowd, of course, but, less than a week away from starting his second training camp as Cowboys coach, Phillips sounds thrilled to be returning to full-time practice.
"I don’t think it will be Camp Marshmallow," he cracked.
This would be in reference to the "Camp Cupcake" label that was firmly affixed to his training camp last year in San Antonio. This year, the team reports to training camp in Oxnard, Calif., on Thursday.
"It’s Marshmallow this year," he said. "We’ll have a strong training camp, … Will it be any different? I don’t but we’ll curb back on pads at some time. know. I think the players are really looking forward to this year, as am I.
"I think we’ve established ourselves, at least on paper, as a contender. It’s nice to be there rather than the other situation.
"We all know how hard it is to get to the Super Bowl, but those have to be the goals for this team."
Phillips and some of his assistants spoke to a group of the region’s high school coaches, who were treated to a free day of clinics hosted by Cowboys assistants.
Dreaming about the Mavs off-season …
Josh Smith proved to be the most valuable player of the Atlanta Hawks postseason run, so why aren't they chomping at the bit to bring the restricted free agent back? The Hawks, who need all the help they can get in their undersized front court, have yet to make Smith an offer. Perhaps they are waiting for interest from around the league to wane -- the Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Clippers already opted for proven veterans over Smith -- or perhaps they are contemplating a bigger move.
Some NBA pundits are proposing that the Hawks should re-sign Smith and then trade him to the Dallas Mavericks for Josh Howard. The notion makes sense for the Mavs, who are in desperate need of a defensive-minded power player. Smith can run with the best of the west and at only 22 years old is a solid long-term investment.
Howard would bring one of the more underrated offensive games to Atlanta. The question is, though, what would the Hawks do with their current three, Marvin Williams? They had developed an emerging combination of Williams outside the paint, Smith attacking the rim, and Al Horford defending the basket. How would the addition of Howard shake things up? This deal is all speculation at this point, but as the summer goes on without an offer for Smith, a sign-and-trade could become a more viable option.
Josh Smith is really good (vs. Boston in ’08 playoffs Game 3)
Mike Sherman considers Jerrod Johnson for QB …I like it.
he has competition at every position where it's feasible, including quarterback.
While Stephen McGee might have been the closest thing to the program's face during the past two seasons, he isn't guaranteed to be under center Aug. 30 against Arkansas State. Jerrod Johnson remains squarely in the picture.
"It's very healthy. But it's very competitive," Sherman said. "I think it would be unfair to me to just walk in and hand Stephen the job."
McGee isn't alone. Jorvorskie Lane was told he and his 270 pounds will play fullback. Throughout the roster, veterans are facing the same challenge.
"That's what needed to be done," defensive back Devin Gregg said. "When you have a change like that, there needs to be changes throughout the program."
As far as Sherman has come since replacing Dennis Franchione in November, he acknowledges much more work remains.
There's a defense that was hesitating too much early in spring practice and a green offensive line. Then there's the 12-year gap that Sherman must bridge.
Mike Leach being Mike Leach …
Scratch two Heisman candidates?
This is nothing personal against Texas Tech's Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree. Both are part of a bumper crop of Big 12 award candidates this season. But their trophy chances had to dim when they didn't show up Monday for the beginning of the conference's preseason media days.
It wasn't necessarily their choice.
Coach Mike Leach decided that the reigning Biletnikoff Award winner (Crabtree) and a guy who could become the leading passer of all time (Harrell) weren't worthy to be interviewed by us media types during a pre-arranged media session on football media day. Leach threw out something about football being the ultimate team game when I asked him why on Monday.
I'm not saying Harrell and Crabtree are out of the Heisman race before it begins. I'll leave that to the other Heisman voters whose companies spent money and resources for them to get here. Let's just say stiffing the Big 12 (and national) media doesn't help.
Leach is quirky that way. He doesn't do things conventionally all the time. Sometimes that's charming. Sometimes it's downright unprofessional. A person with knowledge told me that the Big 12 asked to Leach to reconsider bringing his two stars, but that he refused.
To reporters Monday, Leach flippantly said that any of us are welcome to interview his stars "in their natural habitat" in Lubbock. That's great except there is a reason these media days exist, so we don't have to go to each individual school. Especially when Lubbock is so far from anywhere it can see the end of the earth in any given direction.
"A lot of times there are so many guys who play football, there is a temptation to isolate the attention around a couple of guys," Leach said. "Our team is far more than a couple of individuals."
Oh yeah? That would make a shred of sense if it weren't so hypocritical. In Texas Tech's own media guide Crabtree has a page to himself. Harrell has two. Every other player in the guide except one (running back Shannon Woods) gets half a page. So much for not isolating the attention around a couple of individuals.
If this was a high school team before a state championship, I'd kind of understand it. This being a major university (according to some) with major aspirations taking in major public dollars, it is short-sighted. Tech SID Chris Cook told me an interesting story about Crabtree working out in Dallas with the likes of Deion Sanders and Pacman Jones. Sure wish I could have fleshed that one out. It sounded neat.
Leach wants to send the message of teamwork. Here's another message Leach is sending: Attention, recruits. Don't come to Texas Tech. We won't promote you. You'll have a tough time winning national awards, never mind competing in a Big 12 South Division Tech has never won.
This is not just me on a rant. Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel woke at 4:30 Monday morning to fly from Los Angeles to be here for interviews. Daniel is currently an instructor at the Elite 11 quarterback camp in Southern California. After a couple of hours of answering questions, Daniel was right back on a plane back to California.
He seemed to be slightly upset that the Tech guys weren't here after the effort he had made.
"You've got to bring your best players here," he told me. "It's the best thing to do. Coach Leach is a smart guy. He's been in this business a lot longer than I've been alive. He can do what he wants. (But) you look at it: You have a guy like Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree, both are legitimate Heisman candidates. You've got to get them both out in the limelight."
The trend continues here. Oklahoma redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Bradford won't be making an appearance either on Wednesday.The nation's pass efficiency leader last year is old enough to go to war, own a house and vote but apparently not mature enough to handle a few media questions.
It's not like we're going to grill him. After the season he had, we want to say good things. Start with the fact Bradford is an inspiration on the field and to the Native American culture he represents.
Maybe there are extenuating circumstances. I doubt it. I'm tired of it, anyway.
These kids aren't the property of the football program. They are students with lives to lead who might want to see a different part of the world than their own. In essence, they are promoting the school, before themselves, at these media days.
In that case, what the hell is wrong with being an individual?
Media expectations for Big 12 …
Missouri was the unanimous choice of 51 voters to win the North Division. And Oklahoma, which will be gunning for its record third-straight conference title, was the choice of 49 of the 51 voters. Texas received the other two first-place votes in the South Division.
The balloting was:
1. Missouri (51) 306
2. Kansas 234
3. Nebraska 183
4. Colorado 181
5. Kansas State 108
6. Iowa State 59
1. Oklahoma (49) 304
2. Texas (2) 230
3. Texas Tech 227
4. Oklahoma State 140
5. Texas A&M 118
6. Baylor 52
First-place votes in parentheses
Flobots – Tonight! HOB – Dallas
Fernando Torres goes to Liverpool Nike Ad