NFL Nation: Favre stays retired
|Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images|
|Since Brett Favre won't be QB in Minnesota, his legacy in Green Bay should be safe.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Crossing off my remaining items on the "In Case Brett Favre Stays Retired" list ...
What does Favre's decision do for his relationship with Green Bay and its fans? I don't think his rapport with the organization changed much during this dalliance with Minnesota. (It would be hard for it to worsen.) But there are at least some Packers fans who couldn't stomach the possibility that Favre would play for the Vikings and lost respect for him as a result.
Ultimately, however, this episode will fade into the shadows of 16 mostly thrilling seasons with the Packers. I don't know if Favre will ever become a paid organizational mascot, as once proposed, but there's no doubt he'll one day have his No. 4 retired in a mushy ceremony at Lambeau Field.
You might have seen former NFL coach Steve Mariucci reveal on the NFL Network that Favre plans to continue running and throwing this summer. That's all we need to keep his name in circulation every time an NFL team needs a quarterback at any point this season.
I have serious doubts about whether Minnesota would give him a second chance, barring a series of injuries or another disaster. But that doesn't mean another team wouldn't consider it.
How will Minnesota ownership view coach Brad Childress after this episode? As the central figure in a daring and valiant effort to improve the team? Or as the guy who lost a calculated bet that eventually threatened the psyche of a defending division champion?
Realistically, it would be hard for owner Zygi Wilf to blame anyone when his own zeal for Favre was unmatched. Wilf has long been a huge fan of Favre and wanted to sign him as much as anyone in the organization.
|Rick Scuteri/US Presswire|
|Before the Favre saga began, the starting job appeared to belong to Tarvaris Jackson.|
Childress' vulnerability lies in how necessary the Favre pursuit was. During his first three years on the job, Childress has been unable to develop or find even a semi-permanent answer at the game's most important position. He is now left conducting an underwhelming training camp competition between quarterbacks Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels.
When the Vikings take the field Sept. 13 at Cleveland, who will be their starting quarterback? Before the Favre saga began, I believed it was Jackson's job to lose. Childress has invested substantially in his development and, after all, he ended last season as the team's starter.
Rosenfels did nothing in spring drills to suggest he is clearly better than Jackson, but the two will have plenty of time to hash it out in training camp. For what it's worth, Rosenfels' personality makes him a better candidate than Jackson to have maintained his mental focus amid public chaos.
What does this mean for the NFC North race? I'm on record projecting that Chicago's acquisition of quarterback Jay Cutler makes the Bears preseason favorites to win the division. I certainly don't think the Vikings have emerged from this episode as a stronger team, so I have no reason to change my preseason suggestion. We'll reconvene on this issue after training camp.
About 10 days ago, reports ESPN's Ed Werder, quarterback Brett Favre told Minnesota officials that he planned to remain retired. The team's reaction was more telling than any spin you will hear over the next few days and weeks.
|AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis|
|Brett Favre will remain retired, leaving the Vikings to choose between Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels as their 2009 starter.|
The Vikings asked Favre to reconsider, a request that left them waiting for a final answer about 36 hours before the first team meeting of training camp. Then, they dispatched some of their top players to recruit Favre via phone calls and text messages. Tailback Adrian Peterson and defensive end Jared Allen both reached out. Cornerback Antoine Winfield was given Favre's cell phone number moments after signing a contract extension.
Instead of cutting their losses last week, the Vikings put on a full-court press that -- from the outside, at least -- made it look like they were begging. They believed Favre would eventually come around, and their continued pursuit deepened the hole they must now dig out of.
Coach Brad Childress said in a statement Tuesday that Favre's decision "does not detract from the team we have." Technically, that is true. The Vikings have the same team Tuesday that they had Monday and last week. They are reigning NFC North champions and without question have a playoff-caliber collection of players. But at some point, they are going to have to refocus a locker room that clearly believed a future Hall of Fame quarterback was coming their way.
They'll have to start by turning to a quarterback they shunned for the past three months on the bet they could lure Favre to the Twin Cities.
Unless something bizarre happens -- and we've learned not to rule anything out -- either Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels will be the Vikings' starting quarterback in the Sept. 13 season opener at Cleveland. Both are professionals and surely understand that Favre ultimately has handed them a new opportunity. But they also know it came only after the team tried desperately to replace them.
It's only natural to wonder how they will react. Both expressed frustration with the situation about six weeks ago and neither received an official status update from the team until the final day of organized team activities. For the most part, Jackson and Rosenfels were left to twist in the wind and wonder if they had a future with the team.
There are other repair elements to consider as well. How do you think Jackson and Rosenfels felt about their teammates lobbying for Favre -- future Hall of Famer or otherwise -- to join them? Allen admitted earlier this week that the communication was supposed to be private, but it's too late to stuff that genie back in the bottle.
Jackson and Rosenfels don't have the professional pedigree to justify outrage. But it's never comforting when you start wondering which of your teammates are truly behind you -- or if your bosses put those teammates in a damaging situation by asking them to join the recruiting process.
And finally, what would you be thinking right now if you're a receiver or a player who otherwise figured to benefit from Favre's presence? In the short term, how can you not view Jackson or Rosenfels as a consolation?
Consider that one of the Vikings' most level-headed players, linebacker Ben Leber, told the Associated Press that he was "as surprised and shocked as anybody" after hearing the news and added: "I really expected him to be at camp."
In human nature, shock and surprise often precede a letdown. The Vikings have their work cut out to prevent it from happening to them.
Kevin Seifert examines what Brett Favre's decision means to the Vikings' Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels.
Minnesota coach Brad Childress released the statement below moments ago. Note that Childress refers to the Vikings' pursuit of Brett Favre as "behind us." This wording is especially notable considering Favre's legendary proclivity to change his mind.
Childress: "It was a rare and unique opportunity to consider adding not only a future Hall of Fame quarterback but one that is very familiar with our system and division. That does not detract from the team that we have. As we have consistently communicated, we feel good about our team and they have put forth a tremendous effort this offseason preparing for the season ahead. With this behind us, we look forward to getting to Mankato and getting training camp under way."
I'll be working on the Brett Favre story here for a good part of the night. But for now, it's probably worth looking at this post from May 7 -- a day of twists and turns that left us believing Favre had decided to remain retired even then.
It covers the topic of impending damage control that Minnesota will have to engage in over the next few days and weeks. I'll be back shortly.
And here's a link to the news story on our Web site.
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