The Brett Favre Saga — Prelude to Implosion

15 34
Brett Favre

Brett Favre

Yes, let’s go there — the Brett Favre saga. Like Kevin Greene once said, “IT IS TIME.”

Brett Favre will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame prior to the 2016 season. It stands to reason that the Green Bay Packers will want to preempt that ceremony with an honor of their own. That gives them just two seasons to make it happen. As diligent readers of this site, you already know that the Packers were considering having Favre on the sideline last season, but were never able to work their way onto his calendar.

With that being the case, you can expect to see Brett Favre at Lambeau Field at some point in 2014. The Packers will want to verify Favre’s warm reception before going with the full-on, ring of honor ceremony probably in 2015.

Such a precaution is unnecessary. One needs only to check out the fan reception to Ryan Braun in Milwaukee to see proof of that. But the Packers have the time to make sure, and they will.

It has been six years since Packers Nation endured the most traumatic and divisive offseason since Curly Lambeau fought the board of directors for control of the franchise. Though the Super Bowl win in 2010 largely vindicated the organization and healed the fractured fan base, some division still remains and is obvious any time Favre and his divorce from the team become a story.

Many of the events and actual facts of the saga seem conveniently forgotten depending on which side of the fracture you’re on. It’s with that in mind and in light of the fact that no one has put the ENTIRE saga together before that I strive to achieve the impossible. I strive to present an objective retelling of all the relevant events as they occurred.

Of course, it is inevitable that I will fail. The Favre fanatics will say I am unduly biased against him while simultaneously the Favre haters say I am too kind. I accept that fate.

Due to the immensity of this undertaking, I will be splitting this retelling into two parts: the first being the lead-up to 2008, and the second being 2008 and beyond. All events, details and quotes hereafter are easily verifiable on the Internet.

1992 — Yes, for the full story you have to start in 1992. That is not only the year that Ron Wolf traded for Brett Favre, of course, but it is also the year that Ted Thompson joined the Packers as a scout. It is humorous to think it is entirely possible that the two sat in some sort of team orientation together. It is a usually ignored fact that Ted Thompson’s hiring as GM was not Brett’s first run-in with Ted. As a scout, Ted spent most of his time away from 1265 Lombardi, but as the director of player personnel from 1997 to 1999, he would have regularly observed practice. As such, even if they never spoke, they both likely had at least some impression of each other prior to Thompson’s promotion in 2005.

Years later, Brett would say, “Ted and I, I thought, have always had a good relationship.”

January 2005 — Bob Harlan has finally had enough of Mike Sherman as a GM, and on Ron Wolf’s recommendation, he hires Ted Thompson back from the Seattle Seahawks. Whatever Brett’s impression of Thompson was, Ted could hardly have gotten off to a worse start in his QB’s good graces. Brett said years later that he asked Teddy to re-sign either guards, Mike Wahle or Marco Rivera or both. Ted signed neither. Ted also let Darren Sharper walk to the repugnant Minnesota Vikings. Ted tried to replace the Pro Bowl guards with low-rent free agents Adrian Klemm and Matt O’Dwyer; neither would become even mediocre replacements.

As if that weren’t enough, with the 24th pick of the 2005 draft, instead of picking a player to help Brett, Ted selected a quarterback to eventually take Brett’s job. A new GM selecting a QB with his first ever pick is about as strong a statement as a GM can make.

The Packers and Favre would both follow with terrible seasons. Bereft of the running game of the past and the protection he was used to, Favre would try to do too much and throw 29 INTs on his way to being 31st in QB rating. The Packers, ravaged by injuries, would fall to 4-12, the only losing season Favre had as a Packer. The media would often cite the holes on the offensive line as key contributors to the catastrophe.

However, let’s not omit all the facts. The Packers, in 2005, were coming off their third consecutive NFC North title, but the last two titles were won with mere 10-6 records leading to embarrassing losses in the playoffs. What success the Packers did have was also partially a facade. Their GM had been mortgaging their future with overpaid free agent busts and poor draft classes. When Thompson took over, the Packers were over the salary cap and the opportunity to extend either Wahle or Rivera was past. Thompson was left with only two options: match whatever the market offered those guys or let them walk. He wisely chose the latter.

Both were offered premium contracts. Neither would finish that contract. Wahle would be cut by the Panthers after three seasons. Rivera would be cut and out of football after two. As much as the media would to this day bemoan their loss, Favre was sacked an unexceptional 24 times in 2005, and the running game, even reduced to Samkon Gado at one point, would rush for 1,350 yards for the season. Hardly the disaster it was played out to be.

Thompson also wisely let future dead-fisher, Darren Sharper, ply his wares for the Vikings. Thompson drafted Nick Collins the following year.

With his veteran QB having just completed his 14th NFL season, capitalizing on the good fortune of having a quarterback considered for the top spot in the draft fall all the way to No. 24 and right into his lap was a no brainer for Ted Thompson. A GM’s job isn’t to cater to the feelings of his best player. His job is to pick the best player available. There is no doubt that Thompson did that.

January 12th, 2006 — Ted Thompson hires the generally unknown Mike McCarthy to coach the Packers.

Brett would say years later that he asked Ted to at least interview Steve Mariucci for the position, and that Ted told him “OK,” taking that as confirmation that he would. Brett would find out after the hire that Mariucci was never interviewed.

Ted also refused to re-sign kicker Ryan Longwell or center Mike Flanagan. Both left in free agency: Longwell joining Sharper in Minnesota. Longwell and Flanagan, according to Brett, were two of Favre’s best friends remaining on the team at the time.

Four months of speculation that Favre would retire followed the end of the disastrous 2005 campaign. During those four months, many speculated that Brett’s best years were behind him and that if the Packers were going into rebuilding mode with a new coach, then Brett would likely retire since he could no longer play for a winner. A trade, previously unthinkable, was even suggested.

January 31st, 2006 — Brett does an interview with Chris Mortensen of ESPN. In what would become familiar comments, his answers foretell what is to come. “I wish I knew where I stood… If I had to pick right now and make a decision, I would say I’m not coming back.”

“I’d like to wait til training camp. But I know I have to make the decision in the next month for their sake.”

In the interview, Favre also says that he told Ted Thompson if the Packers can’t wait for his decision, then he should be “cut loose.”

March, 2006 — Even though he’s operating without knowing if Brett’s $12 million salary is going to be available to use or not, Ted has the Packers well below the salary cap and uses that room to sign three free agents who will be starters: Charles Woodson, Ryan Pickett and Marquand Manuel.

April 26, 2006 — Two days before the draft, Favre finally announces he will return for the following season.

Ted says he’s glad to “get past that hurdle.” When asked if Brett said anything about future seasons, Ted says he’ll worry about 2007 “probably in a couple of weeks.”

It is reported that there’s a good chance 2006 will be Brett’s last year. He is quoted as saying about 2006, “it will be my last. There’s no doubt about that.”

New Year’s Eve, 2006 — After leading the Packers to a win over the unconcerned division champion Chicago Bears in the final game of a resurgent 8-8 season, Brett gives a tearful interview, confirming that he might have just played his last game.

February 2, 2007 — Unlike the prior year and despite his own comments, Favre announces fairly quickly that he’ll be back for the 2007 season. He believes the Packers will make the playoffs and he later stirs up some controversy by saying the 2007 Packers are the most talented team he’s been on.

April 28, 2007 — Randy Moss is traded to the Patriots for a fourth-round pick. All offseason it was reported that the Packers were in the running for Moss. The Boston Herald even alleged the Packers were willing to offer Aaron Rodgers for Moss. The Packers adamantly denied that story — and they better.

It was also well known that Brett was lobbying hard for the Packers to acquire Moss. Just over a year later, Brett would express his disappointment on national TV, saying he “worked his butt off” to get the deal done and claiming that he knew for a fact that the Packers would have had Moss if they would have offered the same $3 million that the Patriots did. He had even offered his own salary to cover it.

Brett was even more angered (according to him) by the fact that when Thompson was asked to confirm that Brett had pushed for the deal, Ted denied any knowledge of it.

Brett was not alone in his criticism of Ted’s inability to close this deal. The Green Bay media was nearly hysterical with the failure, having wasted three months babbling about it. And of course, we all know that Moss went on to set NFL receiving records with the Patriots, clearly worth whatever he was paid for that one season at least. In fact, Moss would have three good seasons for the Patriots before being traded again and becoming irrelevant.

On the other hand, despite the Green Bay media’s assertion that the Packers were vacant at the receiver position, Greg Jennings and James Jones would blossom for the Packers in 2007, combining with Donald Driver to give the Packers one of the better receiving corps in the league. The Packers would finish second in the league in offense that season, behind only the Patriots.

Also, it is interesting to note that the Packers’ fourth-round pick that year was No. 112 overall. The pick that the Patriots traded to the Raiders for Moss was No. 110. That means if, as Brett suggested, the Packers would have essentially matched the Patriots’ offer, they still would NOT have gotten Moss. Brett is likely speaking from Randy Moss’s perspective, meaning he knows Moss would have accepted the $3 million. The problem is the Raiders are the ones making the trade and obviously they are going to take the higher draft pick. The Packers would have had to offer higher than a fourth-round pick to get him, which was the likely deal breaker, despite what Brett said.

January 20, 2008 — In bitter cold at Lambeau Field, the Packers would lose a tight game to the New York Giants, who would then go on to beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl. The Packers had their offense on the field with a chance to win in OT, but a Favre interception would set up the winning field goal for the Giants.

Years later, rumors would surface that Mike McCarthy was vocal in the locker room about his frustration with the final pass. However, Brett would never mention it and McCarthy, by all accounts, still wanted Brett to return to the team in 2008.

On the other hand, considering Brett’s retention of slights from year’s past, the aftermath of that loss could have been the final straw.

What comes next is not pretty, but you’ll have to wait for it.

About The Author

Shawn Neuser attended UWGB and lives and works in Green Bay. He enjoys long walks on the beach and being intimate with game film.

34 Comments on "The Brett Favre Saga — Prelude to Implosion"

  1. the real russ letlow

    this is some good stuff Shawn. looking today at the quotes of BF then, you can really see how selfish he was by dragging out the retirement thing during the off seasons, particularly in 2006, and thinking he had any say in the personnel decisions. TT put up with a lot of prima donna B.S. from him.

    • bob at 81

      selfish, I think you jest. TT also has some ego, and wanted AR because he was his draft choice.
      since non of you were a mouse in the corner, you are only speculating. it was a 2 sided deal, and only those 2 know all the story, and we may nev er know it all. give each his due and move on. go pack go

      • the real russ letlow

        no jesting here , Bob. I read the story. I formed an opinion. if you want form your own opinion, use all the info available to you. watch the documentary “Last Day in Lambeau”. Read Shawn’s post – all of it. then come on back and tell us about who is speculating. And please quit telling people to “move on”. You are old enough to know better.

        • bob at 81

          OLD ENOUGHT, YES, TO REMEMBER THE HADLE DEAL, REGIE WHITE, MONTANA, and many more.
          WHEN, according to you, it’s fine when they join and that’s fine, they leave and that “sucks” – I have shed many a tear ov er my life for the packers, but never one for any one player that came or left. I feel sorry that you can’t be a more forgiving person, but I will respect your love for our packer team. G P G

  2. TyKoSteamboat

    I say we welcome him back after the McCarthy/Rodgers/Thompson regime is all out of house & he cannot be a distraction any longer.

    Especially after the way he reacted to the drafting of Rodgers & him treatment of him as a back-up… among other things…

  3. Chad Lundberg

    Still a traitor. His move to the Vikings wasn’t the only thing that scarred me, it was the fact that he was happy with it. It’s the fact that if he could have won a championship with them, he would have!!! It was that the fact that he wasn’t THE LEAST BIT SORRY.

    Don’t believe those so-called apologies by Brett, they are CLEARLY scripted!! And besides, the words “I’m sorry” or “apologize” absolutely NEVER escape his mouth! I don’t care about the Packers past with Brett any more, because Brett certainly doesn’t care anymore either.

    Let it go people!!! Favre is just not the folk-like cult hero we thought he was!!!

        • bob at 81

          so then, an employee can go to where he wants, and make his pay, and if you don’t like the product go to another business -team – or give thanks for what the employee did for the business while employed. as an observer, you take what the business offers – as a true fan, I wish all those that change jobs the best of luck.
          GO PACK GO

          • E. Wolf

            That is a false analogy. Star atheletes are not like normal people, they make millions of dollars a year. At this stage in the game, they don’t have to play for anybody.
            Also, different companies in a field, though competing against each other in some sense, are not a fair analogy to sports rivals. They don’t play each other, there are no standings, opposing fans do not get in kerfuffle with each other and so on.

          • Chad Lundberg

            They make TENS of millions of Dollars, only play until they’re about 35 then retire, and they’re not even working, they’re playing a GAME.

            I hate it when people compare athletes to normal working citizens, the two are about as far apart from each as can be.

  4. nurseratchett

    When Brent returns, A-Rog will back slap him, let him where a headset, and make sure not to treat him with all the respect he was shown in his first seasons in Green Bay.

    Shawn, when recapping his Jets career, will you be including at least links to the pictures of his junk?

    I miss Woodson more than I will ever miss that tool.

  5. Carl with a "C"

    The mobile site really needs to show the author. That sucks TP.

    Retire it the vikes pack game! Ironic

  6. Howard

    Brett was one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. As far as Brett’s actual place is open to opinion. I always thought he gave the team a great chance in every game.

    The problem with Brett as the years went on was that he thought he was the only way the team could win. After Holmgren no coach let Brett know that was not acceptable until McCarthy came along. The horror of all the untimely and reckless interceptions in the playoffs that helped lose those games. The Philly O.T Int. The five plus at the Rams. The Giants O.T lnt. All were reckless passes that probably lead to the decision that a new QB was needed. In fact I believe Rodgers was told from day one interceptions would not be tolerated and Rodgers does protect the ball as well as can be expected in the NFL.

    Oh I almost forgot the one playoff Int. by Brett that probably is the prime example of Brett thinking he and he alone was the only way the team could win. It brings me great joy to remember the Int. to lose the championship game against the Saints when Brett was with Minnesota.

  7. gort

    Shawn, you did a really nice job. Mostly just the facts, but there is some good insight. I like that it is not sugar coated, like some of the “official” stuff can be. The only part of the Randy Moss story that you might have included was the mooning incident. That January 2005 incident was too fresh in the minds of many fans in April of 2007. TT did the right thing for the team. I think that the outcry from the fans if that signing had happened would have made it difficult for TT to remain in Green Bay. I understand that that many players play for many teams. Julius Peppers was a real pain for us when he played for Chicago, but he never disrespected himself and the Packers fans with a lowbrow stunt. Moss had a few good seasons with the Pats, but some people simply don’t deserve to wear Green N Gold. Good businesses hire people with good character. Bill Belichick and the Pats signed Randy Moss.

    • Shawn Shawn Neuser

      I hear ya, Gort.

      I had considered adding a quote from Bob Harlan where he said that his email was 65-35 against the Randy Moss trade. Packer Nation remained very skeptical even while the local media did not.

      Personally, I have always said I would rather lose with Donald Driver than win with Randy Moss, but that is just me.

      Even Vince later regretted saying “winning isn’t everything, its the only thing.”

  8. gort

    Forgot to say that I am really looking forward to the second part of the story. Let the “not pretty” part begin!!!

  9. E. Wolf

    Analogizing this Brian Braun is very shortsighted. A lot of players do what he did, he just got busted. Going beyond that, the Brewers are not the Packers. One team has a fan base pretty much strictly limited to Wisconsin. Packer fans are a nationwide, indeed international fanbase. The Packers have Championships, history, so on and so forth. it is for these reasons that the Brewers do not have a hated rival quite on par with the Vikings. It of course does not help that BOTH the Cubs and the Brewers are pretty much lost causes.
    Still, Brian Braun never tried to give the Cubs a world series championship, let alone failing by the most freakish of circumstances.
    Perhaps a more apropos comparison would Ryan Longwell, and how he was booed during some halftime stunt.
    Regardless, this man must never be forgiven.

      • Chad Lundberg

        Demonstrate sportsmanship to someone who had absolutely no sportsmanship himself? That’s like seeing your girlfriend getting back at you by making out with your most hated enemy, and then saying “Oh I’m SO happy for you!”

        You would think the Americans would have been happy for Benedict Arnold! Get your mind straight! He’s a TRAITOR!

        Every time I think of Favre, it’s not like the picture above, because there’s always a little purple in there that I just can’t remove from it. SCARRED. And he doesn’t care if I ever get over it. TRAITOR!!

    • Kozak

      What Braun did was far worse. He lied repeatedly. He cost a man his job with his lies. He abused his friendship with Rodgers with his lies.

      Favre provided us with more then a decade of great play, great memories, a championship, 3 MVP seasons. He took pay cuts and redid his salary several times to try and help the Pack be competitive. Yeah, it ended like a bad divorce with both sides bitter and trying to screw each other. But ultimately the good years were way way way more important then the bad. Bring him back and show him the respect he earned for all those good years. He was a large part of making the last 25 years the Packers Third Golden Age.

      • E. Wolf

        Someone who says that is not sufficiently attached to the well-being of our Packers. Berty Judas instigated a personal vendetta against TT and Mac–and by extension our Green Bay Packers–with two purposes in mind:

        — give the Vikings their first Lombardi trophy as a proxy for beating the Green Bay Packers.

        –dismantle and sabotage the McCarthy Rodgers era.

        If Berty had his way, the Vikings would be Super Bowl champs, and 2010 would never have happened.
        Anyone who bleeds Green and Gold as I do cares about that more than anything. This is more important to me than life or death. I care more about than some news story about a fatal car accident or someone dying in a tornado or whatever.
        Finally, if we knew the truth a majority of baseball players do what Braun did. The difference is that Braun was caught. It is an institutional problem with baseball, which sucks anyway as I for one have lost total interest.
        In other words, a majority of baseball players probably do what Braun has done in one way or another. ONLY ONE MAN IN THE HISTORY OF THE NFL HAS DONE WHAT BERTY JUDAS DID. NEVER FORGIVE. NEVER FORGET. NO TO RECONCILATIO, NO TO FORGIVENESS.
        Treason is punishable by death. Since that is not available as a remedy, LIFETIME BANISHMENT is the solution. His number should not be retired until after he is DEAD and buried in the cold grey ground.

      • the real russ letlow

        I don’t remember him taking “pay cuts” or redoing his salary several times for the good of the team. For real. did he really do that? He might have said he would do it for Moss, but I don’t remember him actually doing it.

  10. Vijay

    Without Ron Wolf trading for Favre and even Reggie down the road, who can say for certain that the Packers would even as a franchise in Green Bay today. Love him or hate him, he is still top 2 and ahead of Aaron as greatest QB in franchise history. In my book, he’s #1 actually. Look at all the records and the fact that half his career in GB (2000s) was spoiled with diminishing talent and management which ultimately led to his frustrations and timely exit. If you don’t recall, he later warmed up to Aaron after his rookie year and probably humbled Aaron quite a bit while not mentoring him but leading him competitively and by example. Its not your job to train your replacement and as we saw with Jets and Minnesota, he still had something in the tank. I think he wasv reinvigorated by all of this and Aaron certainly wanted to prove he was worthy by draft position and to show he could learn from a HOF player while not repeating the same mistakes. I’m rooting for Aaron to surpass Brett’s MVP total, but I’d rather see him surpass his SB appearances and championship total.

    • bob at 81

      WELL SAID, CHAD, TAKE NOTICE – if my gal left me, I would wish her well in all her endeavors, work – sex – money – and happiness. bitterness does not become you

    • E. Wolf

      The Renaissance of the 90s is in fact a multi factor equation. Like a complex engine or complex chemical reaction, if you remove any single component and that probably would not have happened. I would put Harlan and Holmgren and Wolf equal to if not more important than Number Four.

    • the real russ letlow

      the Bills are still in Buffalo, today, and they haven’t won for quite some time. I think the Pack could have made it here without Favre. Who knows who we would have had at QB with Holmgren as coach? Questioning whether we would still have a franchise isn’t realistic.

  11. rebelgb

    At what point does a player become so important that they actually have a say in financial and personal decisions for an organization? Is this the NBA? Did Brett possibly save our franchise? Yes. Does that mean he should have had his own locker room, and a say in who we did and did not pay, draft, keep and let go? HELL NO. At what point did Brett actually believe that he was so fucking important that he had a say in any of these things?

    All that being said, his attempt at destroying MM and TT failed. So he can now be forgiven. If he had succeeded, I would have wished him a spot at the Spades table in hell with Hitler and Obama.

    Give the guy his day. I will remember only his good deeds on that day, maybe even replay some of his old highlights.

    Then its time to move on and work towards making the Packers one of the top 3 teams in football. Something we arent anymore.

    • E. Wolf

      Gordon Greco failed, ever so narrowly, in the hostile takeover of that airline. Should the folks he was seeking to disenfranchise and ruin just let bygones be bygones? What about attempted murder? Or my favorite, TREASON, which in some ways concerns by necessity a failed attempt, because the perpetrator eventually gets caught by a state or regime that was never toppled.
      That he failed, under some pretty freakish circumstances I might add, means nothing. His intent was there, and he came damn close to succeeding. On that January in Sunday when the Vikings were in fielg goal range in the last few seconds, he was far too close for my comfort.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *