I grew up watching the Rocky movies. My father, a boxing guru, watched, analyzed and re-watched every one of the Rocky movie offerings. He memorized lines. He even caught a few mistakes — like the southpaw Balboa signing an autograph at one point with his right hand.
The Rocky saga, in my opinion, follows a definite pattern. The first two movies were theatrical gold. Rocky III, with Hulk Hogan and Clubber Lang, was a major joke. Rocky IV, the battle with Ivan Drago, the training montage, elevated the franchise back into respectability. And then there was Rocky V … perhaps one of the worst sports movies of all time.
It may be a bit of a reach to consider Brett Favre’s New York Jets experience last year on par with Rocky V, but it definitely was a major disappointment. The question, of course, is whether or not Favre is truly considering his days in Jetsland as the final chapter of his career, or if he thinks he has enough gas in the tank for one final re-write.
Most people are tired of the annual Brett Favre saga — the dance of whether or not he will play again or finally retire for good. As a lifelong Packers fan, and a lifelong Favre fan, I agree with that sentiment. Last year’s circus leading up to the August signing with the Jets was a mess. People have a right to be disgusted with Favre and his indecision after that media headache.
Favre’s 2008 season headed south right around the same time the biceps in his throwing arm tore. Yes, he’s old, but he still produced during the first-half of the season with the Jets. He was really solid — and that was throwing to a mediocre receiving corps highlighted by an aging Laveranues Coles, Jerricho Cotchery and Chansi Stuckey. A player doesn’t somehow age overnight and become statistically inept — his downfall was tied directly to the injury.
Now, Minnesota is calling. The Vikings provide an instant opportunity for Favre to not only succeed, but to have one realistic shot at a Super Bowl ring. The team is stacked with talent — both defensively and offensively. Favre’s never played on a team with a back as talented as Adrian Peterson. Bernard Berrian, in my opinion, is an immediate upgrade over any of the receivers the Jets had on the field last year. The Vikings even added some flash in rookie receiver Percy Harvin.
Whether or not Favre wants to get revenge on Cheesehead Nation is irrelevant, in my opinion. The Vikings provide him an opportunity to write a successful final chapter to his career. If Favre is a little more emotional and motivated to play well when playing against his old team, it isn’t a bad thing for him or the Vikings. Favre has always responded well in emotional situations — including his magnum opus performance on national television right after the death of his father.
I also don’t understand why the Packers would balk at the opportunity to play Favre twice this year. If they feel that they have the best QB (in Aaron Rodgers), than why not finally get some closure by giving Rodgers and the rest of the Green & Gold an opportunity to prove it on the field? A pair of wins over a Favre-led Vikings team would do wonders for the Packers organization moving forward.
The Vikings, of course, have a lot to gain in a deal with Favre, as well. Sage Rosenfels and Tavaris Jackson would backup QBs on most every other roster. Favre gives the team clout in a division that has seen a large spike in QB talent this offseason (Jay Cutler to the Bears, Matthew Stafford to the Lions). He also will help fills seats in Minnesota, and bring in plenty of revenue. He also gives them the best chance to capitalize on their Super Bowl-ready potential. In fact, if Favre signs with the Vikings, I predict they not only make the playoffs, but wind up in, at minimum, the NFC championship game. If Trent Dilfer can dink-and-dunk his way to a championship ring (like he did in Super Bowl XXXV), than Favre certainly has it in him — especially if he gets to hand off a majority of the time to Peterson. Heck, at the very least, Favre will have momentum on his side. The Vikings open the season against Cleveland, Detroit and San Francisco before a Monday night game hosting the Packers (you can be sure that Favre will rise to the challenge). Minnesota then plays the Rams in week five. A 5-0 record to start the season isn’t too far-fetched.
For Favre to be successful with the Vikings, however, the following points need to be addressed first:
1. Favre’s torn bicep needs to be healthy. There is talk that Favre would consider surgery to speed up the recovery if necessary. Either way, it was obvious last year that Favre needs his arm to be healty if he wants to succeed. If there is any doubt about the arm’s status, than Favre should go back to his Wrangler commercials and riding his John Deere.
2. Favre needs to sign quickly. People will be more forgiving if Favre doesn’t turn this potential return from retirement into a media circus. Plus, Favre needs the extra time with his potential new teammates — building better inter-team relationships will only benefit him and the rest of the team on the field. It will also get him in camp earlier and in better shape to start the season.
3. Favre needs to be totally certain that he can beat the Packers at least once during the regular season. If not, he may be better served staying in Mississippi.
Overall, as long as the torn biceps isn’t an issue, I expect Favre to officially come back with the Vikings sooner rather than later. In fact, I’d be surprised if something isn’t finalized within the next week or two.
The critics are many this time, and rightfully so. Similarly, there were more than ample critics of Sylvester Stallone when he announced the filming of “Rocky Balboa,” saying that Stallone was beating dead horse, that he should leave well enough alone and that another Rocky movie — especially at his age — would ruin his legacy. However, “Rocky Balboa” wowed the critics and Rocky aficionados alike. The movie’s storyline mirrored the rise from criticism that Stallone faced in producing it. Favre has it in him for one final sequel worth watching.
Sure, a return to the NFL is risky for Favre, but then again, making risky moves was what defined his career. I don’t understand why people think he’ll somehow take the safe, less-exciting option this time around. Doing so wouldn’t be Favre-esque.