As the rollercoaster that has been Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers ordeal bullets through the last loops towards the end station, it appears that both will have their legacy tarnished slightly in a situation that was completely avoidable by the Packer organization. However, Packers GM Ted Thompson allowed either pride or arrogance to cloud the situation just as Brett Favre let his desire and emotions cloud his own. Still, the greatest part of the blame lands squarely on the shoulder of the Packers organization. Their complete mishandling of the future of a hall of fame quarterback will haunt them forever. Other organizations have gotten rid of beloved, star athletes will more tact such as the 49ers trading away arguably the best quarterback to play the game in Joe Montana to the Chiefs when they were ready to move on with Steve Young. Why couldn't the Packers follow their lead?
It appears now that Thompson was stubborn enough to not budge from his stance that Favre was retired and Aaron Rodgers was the new starting quarterback. Even when Favre expressed his intentions to return to the team in June, Thompson put his head in the sand like an ostrich hoping the retired quarterback just go away and forget about wanting to play football. Next, when that tactic did not work, the team planted fake reports of tampering by Favre and the Minnesota Vikings through a team issued cell phone that never even existed. The team also stated that if Favre, a Super Bowl winning QB, returned than it would be as a back up to Rodgers without any opportunity to even fight in an open competition to get his old job back. Then, in a last ditch effort that smacked of desperation, the team tried to buy off Favre with a $20-$25 million payout to keep him retired. Finally, when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell finally reinstated Favre after a week of waiting for a solution, the Packers reluctantly announced there would be an open competition only to revoke that claim a day later culminating in Favre leaving training camp to wait for the inevitable trade.
Ted Thompson and the Packers tried so hard to resist the fact that Favre wanted to return to football. Even head coach Mike McCarthy admitted guilt in the matter because he truly believed that Favre would not play football this year. Still this is not even their worst action. The worst action is that they took no action at all. The team has every right to run their organization as they see fit but they must do so in the best interest of themselves and the NFL. By not taking any action, they've allowed this saga to play out unnecessarily longer than it had to thus damaging the reputation of everyone involved and severing the relationship with one of their greatest players. Through their lies and backhanded tactics to keep Favre retired, they've exposed themselves as poorly run organization only interested in controlling the fate of a player they continually expressed no interest in keeping.
The Packers kept claiming they were trying to move forward, but how could they do that when they refused to part ways with Favre. The Packers wanted to have their cake and eat it too. A trade or granting Favre's request for a release would have ended the circus a long time ago. However, the Packers refused to cut him even though he had no role in their future plans. They asked for a first round draft pick for a player they didn't want and who everyone knew they didn't want thus giving the Packers no leverage to ask for such high compensation and making a trade nearly impossible. Also, the Packers excluded the two best fits for Favre and most likely easiest places to trade him because the teams were division rivals. But, if Ted Thompson is so certain that Rodgers is the man, why does he care if Favre goes to another divisional team? Thompson should be happy to receive some compensation and still have his guy running the team on the field. It would be the best of both worlds for Thompson. Yet, his pride and arrogance of wanting to control Favre's future and not have the possibility of having Favre return twice and beat his team keeps him from making the most sensible move. His pride will not allow Favre to have the opportunity to show him up and make people question if getting rid of Favre was a bright move.
Now, Favre is not entirely innocent in these proceedings either, but a player has a right to change their mind and come back without being stonewalled by their team. Michael Jordan un-retired twice! Whether or not Favre was pressured into retiring makes no difference. Players should be able to want to return and play football if that's their desire. If their old team can use them, then great put him back on the squad willingly. If the player is no longer in the team picture, then the team needs to move on by cutting or trading the player quickly. The Packers have shown an utter lack of class to Favre and their team by bungling the handling of the situation.
The only true victim in this matter is Rodgers. After three years of backing up Favre, he was ready to step into the spotlight. Yet, with Favre's return, his place was uncertain. The Packers could have shown more support in Rodgers as their guy by dealing with the Favre situation practically, quickly, and quietly. Instead they drug out the process attempting to call Favre's bluff on wanting to return to football. This stubborn action has caused a media circus and undue pressure and controversy on a guy having enough pressure already trying to replace an icon of the franchise and the NFL.
Now the Packers are looking to toss Favre to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and into another QB controversy with Jeff Garcia. Garcia is rightfully unhappy with the situation as he feels he should be the undisputed starter after taking the Bucs to the playoffs and most likely saving head coach Jon Gruden's job. If the Packers care so much about preserving Favre's legacy as they previously claimed numerous times, then they would just release him so that he could decide his own future. Instead they are clinging to a semblance of control by trading him to a team that has, as one ESPN analysts remarked, "…a bullpen of quarterbacks…" already.
This will definitely go down as one of the ugliest breakups in sports history and the saddest part is that it all could've been avoided if cooler heads had prevailed. If Thompson could've sucked up his pride and done the honor of granting the request of a player who has done more in 16 years for a team than Thompson will ever do, then the situation could have been resolved without scarring the reputations of the Packers and of Favre. Sure, he would have heard about Favre's release or trade in the short term but now he will be hearing about this saga for the rest of sports history.