Favre should have quit long ago

October 24, 2008|BILL PLASCHKE

On Brett Favre Pass, a legacy catches hell.

It is a dead end street, but a sports bar there is a thoroughfare of debate.

What's he doing? Where was he doing it? Who called whom? Why Brett why?

On Brett Favre Pass, some folks are wishing he had thrown his last.

"I just wish he had stayed retired," said Ron Enke, manager of Champion's sports bar, located a Hail Mary away from Green Bay's Lambeau Field. "What coming back has done for his image, what it has done for the mood of the town, lots of people wish he had stayed retired."

Eight months after the face of the NFL tearfully announced his retirement, that face is bruised and blushing.

It is the face of an accused liar. It is the face of an alleged cheater. It is a face lost.

The works of a lifetime, tarnished in less than a football season. An American hero, undone by the American way.

That's the thing about freedom. It gives us the right to choose wrong.

The score is now final, and it's not even close.

Brett Favre, New York Jets quarterback, Green Bay Packers traitor, fast-leaking legend, should have quit when he said he was quitting.

"People around here love him for his football," said John Dederich, a patron at Green Bay's Stadium View sports bar. "We never did give him much credit for his intelligence."

Once savvy, Favre has turned squirrelly. Once immortal, Favre has become vindictively human.

Wouldn't he have looked so much better on a "Monday Night Football" telecast or Mississippi lawn mower?

"Even some of his biggest fans are now seeing him as a spoiled child with no consideration of others," said Tim Meyer, chairman of the communications department at University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. "That selfish attitude has turned a lot of people off."

Perhaps, in the last eight months, we have seen a different Brett Favre. Or perhaps we are finally seeing the real one.

Whatever, it has been the equivalent of a warm farewell followed by the guy changing his mind, barging back through the front door for one last piece of pie, spilling that pie on his lap, dropping messily asleep on your couch.

As splendidly as the great ones welcome us into their world, why don't they ever know how to say goodbye?

Here's how Favre did it.

In March, after 17 record-setting seasons and amid much national mourning, the future Hall of Famer quit. He said it was because he was tired of football. The truth is, he was tired of the Packers.

A month later, the Times' Sam Farmer reported that Favre's agent was already trying to secure him a new job. Everyone in Favre's group denied it. Several prominent online journalists and Favre sycophants also refuted it.

But Farmer was right. Two months after he quit, Favre announced he was coming back.

By then, the Packers couldn't take him because they had already begun installing a new offense and culture for quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Favre knew this. He wanted to come back anyway, allegedly to fulfill his initial intentions of forcing the Packers to trade him to a place he thought he had a better chance to win.

The Packers didn't want to trade him. How would that look to their fans? Favre didn't care. When the Packers reportedly offered him $20 million to go away, he refused.

The quaint football town of Green Bay -- which officially owns the Packers -- was thrown into a tizzy. The billion-dollar world of the NFL was just as confused.

"People felt Brett was never up front with what he really wanted," said bar manager Enke. "It was like he could never make a commitment."

With one of football's strongest organizations straining at the seams, the Packers finally traded him to the New York Jets, and then it got ugly.

"So now we have Packers fans, and Favre fans," Enke said.

Enke was stunned during the exhibition season when some fans insisted that some of his bar televisions be tuned to a New York Jets game . . . in the middle of a televised Packers game.

He was later shocked to see hundreds of folks wearing Jets jerseys . . . in the middle of a live Packers game.

While the Packers are off to a 4-3 start and Rodgers has a 98.8 rating, ranking fifth in the league, the town still fumes.

"The team is playing good, but it's not the same around here," Enke said. "It's like we are suffering from a Brett Favre hangover."

Meanwhile, Favre is enduring a football hangover with the Jets, throwing a dozen touchdown passes in the first four games but only one in two games since. His team is 3-3, he doesn't rank among the league's top 10, and he looked awful Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.

And then he looked worse.

On Monday, the respected Jay Glazer of reported that Favre had shared information about his old team with Matt Millen, then-general manager of the Detroit Lions, before the Lions played the Packers earlier this season.

Once again, Favre's media friends rushed to his protection, even quoting him as denying the report.

Once again, Favre wasn't being truthful, as he later admitted he spoke on the phone to Millen and the discussion did indeed include the Packers.

It is not clear who called whom. But the fact that Favre would discuss anything about the Packers with their current opponent is incredibly petty for a man so huge.

"Folks around here think it was just small and stupid of him," Enke said.

Small and stupid. A spoiled child. A selfish attitude.

I once used different words to describe Brett Favre.

"Larger than life," I wrote.

Turns out, only by leaving that life could he have proved me right.


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