By now, you have probably heard the news. The New York Jets released Favre on Tuesday, a paperwork shuffle that nevertheless could have significant impact in the NFC North -- if Favre decides to un-retire. (Not that he's ever given us a reason to think he might do that, but....)
By releasing Favre at his request, the Jets nullified the so-called poison pill that previously had eliminated the possibility he could move to an NFC North team. Officially, Favre is now untethered and free to sign with any team if he chooses, with no penalty to either side. Favre had interest in one particular NFC North club last summer. It rhymes with "Binnebota" and we'll get to that in a minute.
Favre said in a statement Tuesday night that "nothing has changed." But he also inserted the dreaded "at this time" clause that gives you every reason to question whether he is 100 percent retired.
Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum acknowledged that Favre's agent, Bus Cook, has been requesting the move for some time. Previously, Favre had been on the Jets' reserve/retired list and would have been under contract with them if he wanted to play again. For most retired players, that's a moot point because they have no intention of returning.
The Jets' decision to draft USC quarterback Mark Sanchez last weekend makes it unlikely they wanted Favre back. Favre's motivation for asking to be released is clear: To prevent the same situation he faced last summer in Green Bay, where the Packers had the right to determine his final destination.
Here is Favre's statement for all you sentence diagrammers out there.
"Bus and Mike have been talking about this for a while. Nothing has changed. At this time, I am retired and have no intention of returning to football.
I don't even know what else to say about this story. Favre indicated in February that he would need surgery to repair his throwing shoulder if he ever played again. But I'm sorry, I just won't believe he has totally and completely ruled out playing until the 2009 season ends without him on a roster. (And even then, you wonder if he would consider a comeback for 2010. One year at a time, Kevin. One year at a time. Serenity now. Serenity now.)
Why couldn't he just release a statement that says: "I am retired and will not play football again?" Here are my two explanations. Either:
He can't bring himself to admit it.
He's starting to feel the itch.
We all know Favre wanted to play for Minnesota last summer, but the Packers wouldn't trade him there or release him from his contract. Eventually, Green Bay shipped him off to the Jets. Had Favre been in the same situation then that he is now, he could have signed with the Vikings as an unrestricted free agent.
The Vikings are planning to pit Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels in a training camp competition to be their starting quarterback. Let's just say there's room for a slightly diminished Brett Favre in that group. And as long as Favre continues to lob these "at this time" grenades, it will be hard to completely rule him out of the picture.
As much as some of us might like to.