NFC North: Julius Caesar

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

If you're like us -- and by "us," I mean culturally deficient people like me -- you stumbled over the "Rubicon" reference in the statement released earlier today by Green Bay Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy, a Colgate graduate who has an MBA in finance and a Georgetown law degree.

 
 Getty Images
 Brett Favre as Caesar? Claude Rains, right, played Caesar in the 1946 film 'Caesar And Cleopatra', while Favre is starring in a drama of his own this summer.

The Internet is the great equalizer, of course, and so we went Googling to find out what the reference means in this context.

As it turns out, the Rubicon is a river in Italy made famous in 49 B.C., when Julius Caesar decided to lead his troops across it and launch an invasion. The river had long been considered a natural military boundary. After crossing it, Caesar is said to have uttered: "The die is cast." In other words, the act of crossing it made conflict inevitable.

When someone is said to have "crossed the Rubicon" nowadays, according to Isaac McPhee of Suite101.com, they have "crossed the point of no return or have burned their bridges behind them."

So, one way of reading Murphy's reference is that quarterback Brett Favre crossed the point of no return by retiring and burned his bridges during a summer-long campaign to return. By accepting him back, the Packers have allowed Favre (or, "Caesar" in this little analogy) to retreat to the other side of the river with no retaliation. Or, for an alternate view: The Packers have heroically agreed to retreat themselves by  opening the competition at the quarterback position.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

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