Was it worth it?

We all know the story… a great career that tapered toward the end.  Coaching and management changes along with age contributed to a lack of significant production for much of the 2000’s (specifically post-season wins).  It all ended after the 2007 season on a pair of interceptions that gave the NFC Championship to the Giants.  The Giants won the Super Bowl, Favre had a tearful retirement.  Although we all hope for stars to go out on top, the reality is they rarely have the chance.  Favre leading an over-achieving Packers team within a few plays of a Super Bowl is far better than most players fair when they decide to leave the game.

Then it all went wacky.  Regardless of which side you take, logical people need to admit that nobody knows what really happened between Favre and the Packers.  All we know is that after retiring, Favre decided he wanted to keep playing.  The Packers and Favre could not agree to a mutual resolution and Favre was traded to the NY Jets.  A disappointing season resulted in another retirement speech.  Right around the start of the 2009 pre-season Favre decided he wanted to play again.  The Jets had previously agreed to cut Favre, leaving him free to sign with any team that would take him (something the Packers tried to avoid when they traded the quarterback).  So Favre did the unthinkable and signed with the hated division rival.  The Vikings previously made the playoffs with a misfit cast of players at quarterback and were clear Super Bowl favorites with a healthy Brett Favre leading the offense.

This sent fans into a frenzy.  While some fans abandoned their support of the Packers after they traded, Favre, many took the side of both their team and their favorite quarterback.  Fans who loyally supported the Packers since the 60’s turned on the team in favor of a player who had only been around since the 90’s.  Season ticket holders were suddenly wearing purple instead of green.  From the perspective of fan reaction, it was clearly one of the oddest events in sports history.  Surely fans have given up on their team or turned against them, but to switch your support to that of the team’s most relevant rival?  For fans who turned against Favre, it was an extremely rare instance where fans so strongly turned against one of the best players their team had ever put on the field.

And all that lead us to today.  Almost suspiciously, the 40 year old Favre overcame a serious shoulder injury to have the best regular season of his career.  A fantastic showing in the divisional round put the Vikings against the Saints for the right to play in the Super Bowl.  As expected, the game was close and prominently featured each offense.  Favre had to fight through numerous brutal hits that left him limp on the field.  He had to overcome a crucial interception late in the 3rd quarter.  Favre could only watch as teammates, namely Adrian Peterson, routinely fumbled.  While he stayed in the game, Favre suffered an injury to his left ankle and appeared to hurt either his arm or midsection during the game.

In what couldn’t have been scripted better by Hollywood, Favre and the Vikings had the ball with two minutes left in the game and the score tied.  Through his career, Favre had earned the reputation of being incredibly reliable during these situations in regular season games.  However, in the playoffs he regularly struggled, having only been to two Super Bowls, winning one.  That shouldn’t matter today.  This was a brilliant season and a story of redemption and revenge for Brett Favre.  This was his chance to prove he is the best quarterback ever to play the game.  The drive went brilliantly.  Favre made some fantastic throws and put the Vikings in position to play it safe with the run game.  But they found themselves with a 3rd and 10 and only in position for about a 51 yard field goal.  Then it happened.  After a timeout, the Vikings were confused and broke the huddle with 12 players.  Favre tried calling a timeout, but couldn’t (rules prevent calling consecutive timeouts, it would’ve been the final one for the Vikings anyway.  The Vikings were out of any realistic field goal range and had a 3rd and 15.  Favre had to throw.  He rolled out of the pocket and threw the ball right to Tracy Porter of the Saints.  With almost no time left in regulation, Favre’s mistake had taken the game away from the Vikings and sent the game into overtime.

Now, Brett Favre could certainly come back and play another year.  The Vikings are a talented team and would certainly welcome him back for the 2010 season.  Or, he could demand the chance to play for his fourth team in four years.  But as wise people always say, you cannot predict the future.  There’s no saying Favre’s team would be one of the best teams in the league next year.  A more competitive division, injury to Favre or a teammate or just a string of bad luck could send next year into turmoil.  The future is uncertain and time is short.  Regardless of his decision, playing this year did nothing to help his legacy.  On the other hand, it tarnished it in the minds of many Packer fans as well as fans around the league.  Whenever Favre decides to retire for real, many of those detractors will eventually forgive him.  One day #4 will be added to the Ring of Honor in Green Bay.  This season will just end up going down as an unusual and overall disappointing footnote in the career biography of Brett Favre.

Jay

Jay Ratkowski runs this joint, which is why his name is on the front door. You can find him elsewhere at Google+, Facebook, or Twitter

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Author: Jay

Jay Ratkowski runs this joint, which is why his name is on the front door. You can find him elsewhere at Google+, Facebook, or Twitter

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