Favre fans give love a bad name

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Jul 13, 2008



Congratulations, Packers.
 
You've finally grown a set and said "beat it" to the pigskin paramour who has toyed with your emotions – and on-field competitiveness – for the better part of the 21st century.
 
To which the Cold, Hard Football Facts say: It's about time they ended this wicked game.
 
In case you've forgotten, Brett Favre bid a tear-filled "farewell" to football four months ago. And then – after nearly as many months of schoolyard rumor and notes being passed to Steve Mariucci in study hall – Favre finally admitted on Friday that he wanted back into the relationship.  
 
The Packers declined his offer to start dating again. Their official release last week said that the organization "made the commitment to move forward with our football team" after Favre announced his retirement back on March 6. It would have been truly precious if the release said, "It's not you. It's us."
 
Only a fool, or a Favre fan still smitten by pigskin puppy love, would blame the Packers for their decision to "move forward." After all, Favre wasn't exactly ambivalent about their future together. When he finally broke up with the Packers back in March, tears striped his face as he sniffled: "I don't think I have anything left to give, and that's it."
 
Maybe it is us, but it seems there's only one way to interpret these words: it's time for both parties to move on.
 
The Packers have moved on. Favre has not ... nor, as you'll see below, have foolish lovesick Favre fans who put their passion for one player above the welfare of the entire organization.
 
But this is the best part about last week's developments: The Packers declared that they will not grant Favre his release, showing that they're ready – about four years too late – to play hardball with their former prom date who, despite years of unrequited love, has emotionally handcuffed the organization for several years.
 
So now, if Favre wants back on the Pack, it will be as the team's No. 2 behind Aaron Rodgers (who, lest we forget, was a highly touted No. 1 pick in the 2005 draft). Probably not a position Favre's willing to take. But if he wants to play elsewhere in 2008, another team will have to pay the Packers for the honor. It's the only smart thing for the Packers to do in this situation: Green Bay can get something – draft picks or players – for their former No. 1 QB.
 
They'd be foolish not to seek those rewards. It's the smart, rational thing for the organization to do and it will help improve the team in the long run. The Packers can flip their 39-year-old (in October) QB for a 25-year-old former No. 1 draft pick and perhaps other players or picks. What's not to love about that deal?
 
The decision proves the Packers have put L'Affaire de Favre in their past after four emotionally torturous years. Remember, folks, the first Favre "farewell tour" took place way back in 2004, when the state of Wisconsin  declared "Brett Favre Day" before a Monday Night Football game in November, assuming it was his last season in football.
 
Each season since has been filled by interminable "farewell" tributes, followed by the even more interminable off-season Favre Watch. It went something like this: the Packers would put their future on hold, they would hijack the careers of every other player on the roster, and their former No. 1 draft pick quarterback would continue to collect rust, as No. 4 decided whether he would return for another year. The Packers would take him back with (cue the Journey soundtrack) open arms each and every time.
 
Never in sports history has an organization or its fans wasted so much emotional energy on a single player. The Packers and their fans were on fire with passion and love ... and the belief that Favre was the only thing that stood between a losing season and the typical early playoff exit that defined his years at the helm.
 
But the Packers have put that tortured history behind them. In the immortal words of Loverboy, "It's over. It's over! It's o-o-o-over!!"
 
Yet Favre fans are still smitten and his apologists among the media continue to blindly worship the indecisive, critical INT-tossing, Lambeau Field-legacy-killing QB as if he were an infallible golden god.
 
(These same people probably believe that Russell Hammond of Stillwater is a golden god, too, whereas enlightened  CHFF readers know that the line was stolen from Robert Plant's description of himself in "Hammer of the Gods.")
 
Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported on Sunday, for example, that Packers fans have responded with an "onslaught of venom" aimed at the organization. A few no-life jokers even held a rally to encourage the team to bring back Favre. The Green Bay Press-Gazette reports today that "Favre-mania tackles Title Town."
 
This is a classic example of what happens when fans are ruled by emotions and not by Cold, Hard Football Facts – as if following your emotions is a smart way to run a pro football team. 
 
Clearly, there is a vast chasm between the beliefs of the lovesick Favre fan and the emotionless reason of the Packers and the Cold, Hard Football Facts. For example:
 
The lovesick Favre fan believes: Favre gives the Packers the best chance to win this year 
The emotionless Cold, Hard Football Facts: Prove that this is a completely indefensible argument.
 
Fans may think the Packers will be better with Favre in the line-up. They may in fact be correct. But the truth is that this is merely a guess. Nobody knows if the Packers will be better off in 2008 with the 39-year-old Favre than with 25-year-old former No. 1 draft pick Rodgers.
 
Sure, Favre had a great season in 2007. But he also was among the worst quarterbacks in football in 2005 and 2006. His 29 picks in 2005, for example, were among the highest single-season totals in history and most by a QB since 1988.
 
So if Favre of 2007 shows up in 2008, then yes, maybe the Packers would be better with him in the line-up. But if Favre 2005 (70.9 passer rating) or 2006 (72.7 passer rating) showed up in 2008, the Packers certainly would be better with Rodgers in the line-up, unless he proved a complete bust.
 
As sports talk host Homer True said to us during one of our recent spots in ESPN Milwaukee, there can't be much of a difference between the average Favre season in recent years and the likely production by Rodgers.
 
But at the end, again, we don't know. The argument that the Packers will be better off with Favre is nothing more than a blind, rickety guess by the football forlorn of Green Bay, with no factual foundation to support it.
 
The lovesick Favre fan believes: The Packers "owe" Favre another shot because he gave so much to the team. 
The emotionless Cold, Hard Football Facts: Show that nobody owes anybody anything.
 
The fact that some lovesick Favre fans believe the Packers "owe" him proves that they inhabit an irrational plane of existence.
 
Favre was paid quite handsomely for his years at the helm. He received great wealth, fame and praise. And then he decided to call it quits. As far as we can see, everybody's all square.
 
Plus, "another shot" for Favre creates "another problem" for the Packers. If they caved to fan pressure, they'd simply open themselves up to another year of will-he or won't-he speculation that has embarrassed the organization for the past four years. Do we really need to go through the same old song and dance again in 2009?
 
After all, we've now seen that even if Favre "retires" (again) in 2009, he may continue to haunt us and thhe Packers. Someone's gotta call an end to this poisonous relationship. And the Packers have done it.
 
The lovesick Favre fan believes: The organization can't go on without their man.
The emotionless Cold, Hard Football Facts: Prove that, like a Gloria Gaynor of the gridirion, the Packers will survive.
 
Let's put it this way: if the 49ers could survive without Joe Montana, a far superior performer to Favre who led his organization to greater glory than Favre, than the Packers can certainly continue to compete without No. 4.
 
Sure, Rodgers may not prove to be half the player as Steve Young, the Hall of Famer who replaced Montana.
 
But one way or the other, you have to find out what kind of performer you have in your former No. 1 pick. And you won't find out with Rodgers sitting on the bench. And the sooner he plays, the sooner the Packers get their answer.
 
Either way, folks, the planet continues to spin and the game goes on. Hell, using the logic of the lovelorn Packers fan, Sammy Baugh should still be taking snaps for the Redskins. Folks in D.C. loved him, after all.
 
And, as we've already seen, the risk of losing Favre is pretty low: there's no reason to believe the Packers will be better this year with Favre than they will be without him.
 
But with twisted logic, sad-sack Packers fans have shown more commitment to a single player than to the entire organization, hopelessly devoted to a past that, as you'll see below, is not nearly as glorious as they've made it out to be in their minds.
 
The lovesick Favre fan believes: The Packers are poised for a Super Bowl run and Favre could be the difference. 
The emotionless Cold, Hard Football Facts: Laugh in the face of this nonsense. 
 
As far as we can tell, and correct us if we're wrong, Favre has quarterbacked the Packers for 16 years. Those 16 years have resulted in two Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl victory ... both more than a decade ago.
 
There's simply no reason to believe that 2008 would be any different than every year from 1998 to 2007, when the Packers did not reach the Super Bowl with Favre at the helm.
 
But that's only part of the story. More often than not, Favre was a major reason the Packers failed to at least reach a Super Bowl when they had teams good enough to get there.
 
The 2001 Packers went 12-4 and were one of the best teams in football. The season came to a crushing halt with a 45-17 loss to the 14-2 Rams in the divisional playoffs. Favre was nearly singularly responsible for the defeat, throwing 6 INTs and tying a playoff record for picks last achieved by Norm Van Brocklin in 1955.
 
The 2002 Packers again went 12-4 and were one of the best teams in football. The season came to a crushing halt with a 27-7 loss at home to the 9-6-1 wildcard Falcons. It was Green Bay's first ever home playoff loss and, again, Favre was largely responsible for the defeat with one of his worst performances of the season, completing 20 of 42 passes (47.6%) for 247 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT and a 54.4 passer rating.
 
The 2007 Packers went 13-3 and were again one of the best teams in football. Favre even had one of the best seasons of his Hall of Fame career. Yet the season came to a crushing 23-20 home loss to the 10-6 wildcard Giants. Favre again contributed greatly to the loss, throwing a – surprise! – critical pick on the second play of overtime that directly led to New York's game-winning field goal.
 
The lovesick Favre fan believes: The "glory days" will come screeching to a halt without Favre.
The emotionless Cold, Hard Football Facts: Prove the good ol' days weren't always good and tomorrow's not as bad as it seems.
 
Favre is a great quarterback. One of the best to play the game. His teams were consistently competitive, as evidenced by the one losing campaign and 11 postseason appearances during his 16 years at the helm. Both of these are notable accomplishments.
 
But the Favre years were not nearly as great in as they've been made out to be in the minds of lovesick Packers fans. Seriously, what are they lamenting?
 
The truth is that, the Packers, while consistently competitive, have not achieved anything of historic note under Favre.
 
Sure, Favre helped lead the Packers to a Super Bowl title in 1996. But over the same 16 Favre years (1992-2007) Troy Aikman's Cowboys and Tom Brady's Patriots each won three Super Bowls. John Elway's Broncos won two. The Young-led 49ers, Warner-led Rams, Dilfer-led Ravens, Johnson-led Buccaneers, Roethlisberger-led Steelers, Peyton-led Colts and Eli-led Giants have all won as many Super Bowls as the Favre-led Packers since 1992 ... one.
 
In fact, if we're being brutally honest here (and brutal honesty is a Cold, Hard Football Facts specialty), the most historic accomplishment in the Favre years was the destruction of the legend of Lambeau Field.
 
The famed "Frozen Tundra" of the NFL's coldest arena once struck fear in the hearts of opponents. From Green Bay's first home playoff game in 1939, all the way through 2001, the Packers never lost a playoff game at Lambeau Field. Now, even wildcard Southern dome teams no longer fear a playoff visit to Lambeau.
 
The magic of Lambeau is dead. Favre helped kill it.
 
Green Bay is 2-3 in its last five home playoff games. Both victories came over the Seahawks of the pathetic NFC West. The losses were to Atlanta, a wildcard dome team, in 2002; Minnesota, a wildcard dome team, in 2004; and the Giants, a wildcard team, in 2007. Favre tossed 4 TDs and 8 INTs in those three losses, with an average passer rating of 60.2.
 
That's a pretty painful end to one of the great indomitable legends of pro football, the magic of the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field.
 
But it seems, for Favre fans, that love hurts.
 
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