No. 4 should, and will, come back [FFB]

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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.

 

 

 

14 Responses to “No. 4 should, and will, come back [FFB]”


  1. Sockonfl

    jzak that was a well thought out piece of writing. Hopefully the paper considers publishing it. Outstanding work, I enjoyed reading every bit of it.

  2. Todd Hummel

    Why doesn’t anybody in Brett Favre’s inner-circle step up and be a man and tell him the truth? Really you think he’s going to be successful with how last year turned out. I think you are still thinking the Brett Favre of 1996 is walking out of the locker room and that player doesn’t exist anymore. If this were a less popular player like Jeff George doing this, would people be so forgiving.

  3. Todd Hummel

    My opinion out of the way. Good story JZ, though I object to the characterization of Rocky III. You can’t go wrong with any movie with both Mr. T and the Hulkster in their primes.

  4. jzak

    Thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate it. However, the reason for the media craze is because Brett Favre can actually play, and win games, and make the Vikings a Super Bowl contender and would be playing for his former team’s archrival. It’s not a matter of popularity. How many games would you honestly expect Jeff George to win with the Vikings? How many games would he have won last year with the Jets? How many NFL passing records does Jeff George have?

    Both guys are quarterbacks. Both guys are old. That’s where the similarities end.

    And I don’t think that people are truly being forgiving with Favre. Most are ready to roast him over some freshly lit Kingsford for even contemplating a return.

  5. Jakyl

    Let’s be serious here. Brett Favre can still play. He is just as likely to lose the big game as he is to win it. Is he the best option for the Vikings, maybe. He does not make that team a Super Bowl contender. They still lack a coach that will take them there, anyone for Favre to throw to, and a QB for the second half of the season when Favre breaks down and suffers his yearly injury that is just bad enough so he has an excuse for his poor play, but not severe enough to stop him from playing. Don’t get me wrong, I love Brett Favre. I am also a firm believer that if a player want to play and a team want him to play, play as long as you like. Brett Favre’s worst enemy is himself. He believes the hype about himself. What the Vikings need is a game manager, someone who won’t lose them the game. Unfortunately this isn’t Brett Favre. He is the “gunslinger”, that’s why we love him. He won’t be able to just hand the ball off to Purple Jesus all game, which is what the Viking need. Instead we will see him consistently underthrow Bernard Berrian on deep routes because he thinks he can still throw as far as he used to. Players do just age overnight. There is that line they cross from when they used to be able to do something, to then they no longer can do it. I would have much more faith in Favre if he would play within his limitations. Trent Dilfer was mentioned in this article. Yes he dinked and dunked his way to a Super Bowl ring, but do we really believe Brett Favre would be able to take on that role? No chance. I am all for Favre coming back to play if it is for love of the game. If there is any hint that he is playing just to get back at the Packers, than I will lose all respect for him. Let’s not forget that the Packers are the franchise that made him. Those fans are the ones that made him and idol. And he is the one who shafted the Packers, not the other way around. They gave him every opportunity to return and when he wouldn’t they moved on. And somehow the Packers are painted as the bad guys? I read an article that had the best quote in about Brett Favre. It said “Brett Favre is what T.O. dreams of becoming.” His yearly “wrestling with retirement” and all the media surrounding it puts T.O. to shame. What Favre needs to realize is that every year he does this, the number of fans clamoring for him to comeback is less. I am all for Favre playing another season. If he does, maybe the Vikings would make the playoffs simply because of the division. Maybe. Even if you believe that Favre can still play, that still doesn’t put the Vikings up with the NFCs best like the Giants and Eagles. Remember, the NFL isn’t a movie so anything less than a Super Bowl victory is a failure; and Rocky lost in Rocky Balboa.

  6. Jakyl

    Great article by the way John. Well written. I just like to argue.

  7. jzak

    Good rebuttal. I agree with much of what you had to say — except that in 2007 with the Green Bay Packers, Favre proved that he can be the dink-and-dunk control-the-clock type of guy. He finished the year with 4155 yards, 28 TD and, most importantly, had just 15 interceptions. Considering the weapons that would be at his disposal in Minnesota — and the fairly weak schedule for most of the season — Favre won’t have to win games with the Vikings. I would expect him to go a little “gaga” in the games against Green Bay, and go a little overboard in terms of chucking the ball around. Outside of those two games, I expect Favre to play conservatively. He learned last year that he doesn’t have the ability to thread the football ways downfield into triple coverage and get the same results as he did 10 years ago. Favre can make some really stupid mistakes — I remember several key interceptions in playoff games that made me sick — but I think that if he did sign with Minnesota, he would put himself on a tighter leash — knowing that this would be his last hurrah and last chance to end his story on a positive note.

    I am disappointed to see stories now that he is telling Minnesota brass that he wants to stay retired. I really think this is an opportunity he shouldn’t pass up (as long as his biceps is healthy enough). With the current “rumor mill stories” as with all the others, Favre needs to make his decisions and comments more public. If he has decided to turn down the Vikings, than say something publicly and shut that door tight. Otherwise, sign with Minnesota and get into camp later this month. Either way, the worst case scenario for him (and the rest of us) is for the media circus to continue and drag on any longer than necessary.

  8. Jay-Mo

    I may be in minority outside of Wisconsin, but I really believe Favre is destroying his legacy by playing this comeback tease.
    One of the greatest things about sports, if not the best aspect, is the emotional connection fans develop with their favorite teams and heroes. Favre is just as much the Green Bay Packers as Vince Lombardi. Playing for the Minnesota Vikings would be like Joe Dimaggio playing for the Red Sox, Michael Jordan playing for the Knicks and Mario Lemieux playing for the Flyers. It can’t happen!
    It would be sickening. It’s not fair to any Packers fan growing up idolozing Favre’s amazing performances. A Super Bowl ring does not seal a legacy. Favre already has a ring, and him signing with Vikings can only be considered a slap to any Packers fans’ face. It’s not right, and Favre is a better man than to do this. Favre playing this game of undecisiveness is immature and embrassing. I take pride in knowing the Miami Dolphins ended his career the way it he deserves by putting Green Bay through an uncomfortable offseason by eliminating him and his team out of the playoffs, despite having a less talented team. There is nothing more Favre needs to prove. Be a man, and ride that lawnmower into the Mississippi sunset man!

  9. jzak

    I really wonder what most people would think of the Favre situation if the media wasn’t so obsessively infatuated with covering it. It seems to me that in the past in situations like this, the media would report a story or two about the possibilities, but not really run with a story until there was something concrete — like a press conference announcing a final decision.

    Now,it seems like everyone wants to be an “expert.” People camp out outside of Favre’s home. If a plane flies into Hattiesburg, suddenly there are tons of stories all over the internet, TV, newspapers of people who have no clue who was on the plane speculating that Brad Childress or other Minnesota brass are on the plane. The firestorm kicks up again and then there are countless shows and radio hosts, columnists, etc. spewing their opinions on the topic.

    Today, an anonymous source is saying that Favre sent X-rays of his torn biceps to Minnesota, fanning the fires that he is still thinking of playing for the Vikings. Thursday, a Yahoo anonymous source said that Favre had turned down the Vikings, choosing instead to stay retired. Seems to me that hard-core news stories are built on facts, not on speculations and unnamed, anonymous sources.

    Obviously the only real solution to the problem in this case is for Favre to stand up in front of a national audience and clearly make a statement of what is going on — whether or not he is coming back or staying retired. However, this is a big decision, and something that he shouldn’t feel rushed to decide upon (as long as it doesn’t take as long as last season’s fiasco).

  10. cburgess

    I don’t know the extent of the hatred between Packer fan and Viking fan. If it is close or even with the level of Cowboy fan and Eagle fan, then I totally understand. If it is not that deep a hatred …… Montana played for the Chiefs, Rice played for the Raiders, and Emmitt played for the Cardinals. The greats are just that for a reason. Accepting that their “time is up” must be very difficult – I can understand their want and passion to continue to play the game they dominated and loved for so long. I think Brett should have walked away before his experiment with the Jets. His offer from the Vikings is more intriguing and would give him that glimmer of hope of making it to the big game once again.
    In saying all of that, if Aikman would have played for the Eagles or Giants after his Cowboys career was over, I would have been very upset. Maybe leaving the game due to several concussions can be a good thing.

    Great article John.

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