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Why in Green Bay are they all Favred up?

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Joel McNally
August 4, 2008

For those who may not have heard, over the past few weeks there was some kind of controversy going on between the Green Bay Packers and Brett Favre, one of the greatest quarterbacks in football history.


It seems that Favre, who led the Packers to a stunning 13-3 record last year and came within a game of taking the team to its third Super Bowl, was threatening to come back to try to do it again.


Ordinarily, any professional football team would be overjoyed to have one of the greatest quarterbacks in history decide not to retire and instead attempt to lead them to another championship.


But in the case of the Green Bay Packers, it messed up all their plans.


See, the Packers had these terrific plans to replace Favre, one of the most durable players in football, with an unproven, backup quarterback Aaron Rodgers, one of the most fragile.


Because Favre was busy setting the all-time record in football for never missing a start, Rodgers seldom got any chances to play, but pretty much every time he did, he got hurt.


Well, when you have an opportunity to replace someone who never gets hurt with someone who gets hurt tying his shoes, you can see how that would make the game a lot more exciting.


Also, the Packersí relatively new General Manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy had been planning to secretly surround Rodgers with improved players at other positions to make the novice quarterback look good.


If a Hall-of-Fame quarterback like Favre were leading the team instead, Favre would get all the credit instead of all those great moves by Thompson and the brilliant coaching of McCarthy.


Since neither Thompson nor McCarthy was around when Favre was rising to greatness in Green Bay, they always have been in Favreís shadow.


When the great receiver Randy Moss became available, Favre personally reached out to Moss and offered to restructure his own salary to make money available to bring Moss to Green Bay.


Thompson basically snubbed them both. As general manager of the Packers, Thompson wasnít about to let a couple of Hall-of-Fame football players tell him how to do his job.


That explains why Thompson wasnít thrilled to have one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time decide to return to Green Bay.


Itís harder to explain why so many sports reporters and even some fans turned against Favre during the recent unpleasantness. Itís true many sportswriters take their cues from management. Sports reporters these days often try to prove their independence and professionalism by attacking the players they cover.


Thatís been of great assistance to millionaire owners whenever they want to collude to hold down salaries or unilaterally institute drug tests and other changes in working conditions without going through all the bother of negotiating with tough unions.


But why did so much of the sports press and sports talk radio join Thompson in reacting negatively to Favre coming back to Green Bay? Could they really be concerned about shattering the teamís ďplansĒ of moving forward with a mediocre work-in-progress who could well be injured shortly after the season starts?


Local sportswriters in Green Bay, Milwaukee and every other state media have never been particularly close to Favre. Whenever Favre wants to put something out, he talks to ESPN, Sports Illustrated or his old friend Al Jones at the Mississippi Sun Herald in Biloxi.


That should give the state press the luxury of being more objective. But, objectively, thereís little question which quarterback gives the Packers the best chance of winning this season, despite all of Thompsonís beautiful plans for moving on.


As sportswriter Michael Wilbon of the Washington Post wrote last week, ďanybody in his right mind knows Favre, even at 38 years old, is 100 times better than Rodgers.Ē


At this writing, Favre is expected to be in Green Bay, competing for the starting quarterback job. Itís unbelievable sports reporters would consider that a problem for Green Bay. Not having Favre is a problem for Green Bay.


Joel McNally is a syndicated columnist. His e-mail address is jmcnally@wi.rr.com.

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