Sunday, August 03, 2008

Damn Vikings: Packers management's pride goeth before the fall...

Those Cheesehead hats the Green Bay faithful wear should be wrapped in tinfoil.

So much for theorizing that all roads lead to Minnesota for Brett Favre. The conspiracy theorists must be wondering how heavy a hand the NFL exercised in gerrymandering the Packers' embarrassing about-face.

Connect the dots. The perpetually buzz-starved NFL Network is broadcasting live from the Packers training camp tomorrow night. It doesn't take a TV exec to know that even though the Packers are among the teams who are always a good TV property when they're winning, they become a better one to the weekend-only sports fans if there's a whiff of drama over which quarterback is going to play — the legend who's already a monument (at least Favre doesn't move like one in his dotage, the way Dan Marino did) or the youngblood, Aaron Rodgers, who's been stewing on the bench for three seasons.

The NFL has already exercised plausible deniability, with Commissioner Roger Goodell initially saying, "I was interjected into it because there was a tampering charge initially. I’m not looking for things to interject myself to." (As if the commissioner of football would by shy.)

It's either that or Aaron Rodgers has been barely outplaying third-round draft choice Brian Brohm at Green Bay training camp, and the Packers wanted some insurance.

There's a small chance this will all blow over. No NFL team has yet had its season go completely down the drain before the first exhibition game. Green Bay, for all the Chicken Littleing going on among the Cheeseheads, was still close to making the Super Bowl last season and remains a consensus favourite to win the NFC North. Favre on the Minnesota Vikings would have been surreal, and it would have meant more national TV appearances for a perennially underappreciated team, but so be it. While some of us were ready to lay the purple pride aside and welcome a quarterback who's perceived to be better than Tarvaris Jackson, it's more fun watching Packers fans squirm.

Bonus points to Packers president Mark Murphy for using the Rubicon analogy.

(Digression: Isn't annoying how the media turns an intricate, highly technical team sport like football into an episode of The Hills? Don't we all want more nuts-and-bolts, Xs-and-Os football talk? The Cowboys are experimenting with a two-back offence with Marion Barber as a fullback and rookie Felix Jones as the tailback. Isn't that a lot more exciting than talking about Brett Favre? On second thought, no, people love drama.)

Last but not least, the stuff you can't make up: The Favre drama is winding down on the same weekend that the Green Bay Press-Gazette is running a special feature, the "State of Drinking: How our love of alcohol shapes Wisconsin's cultural landscape."

Far be it to judge the Cheeseheads if they're reaching for the beer and spirits a little more quickly as this fiasco spirals toward something resembling denouement ("the final unravelling"). It must be said the Packers fans brought this on themselves. This is what happens when you rhyme parties with Lombardi:

Negotiations dead; Favre to compete for starting job (Packers Blog)


Robert C. said...

NFL Network has had a reporter in Green Bay for a week. So they've been hyping this already. :)

The Packers Family Night tonight is being aired on a tape delay on NFL Network on Monday. Sure they're kicking themselves for deciding to tape delay that. And it will be a bit confusing as they go from LIVE hits to 24 hours earlier.

NBC even cut into their Redskins-Colts game tonight just to show Brett's plane arriving at the Green Bay airport. Ooooh thrilling.

Dennis Prouse said...

Favre doesn't get it. He has asked again for his release, and Green Bay management has again, for the umpteenth time, said no. If he wants to play at this stage of his career, he is going to have to accept, at least for now, being a part time starter and mentor to Aaron Rodgers. Pro athletes, though, have fairly healthy egos, and don't really fall into the whole, "mentor" thing quite as easily as we all think they should. Damon Allen, for example, never did play that role in Toronto, even last year when he was clearly in the last year of his playing career. He still thought he could start, and quietly sulked when he didn't.

I guess you could fault the Packers for not giving him his release, but they are under no obligation to do so. If they want to pay Favre $12 million to be a backup, that is their right.

Brett needs to suck it up, go back to practice, and earn back his starting role the old fashioned way. If Rodgers struggles early, you don't think that the Pack would quickly turn back to Favre? Of course they would. What Favre is worried about is that they WON'T struggle, and that he will be stuck on the bench as a cheerleader for Rodgers. His ego clearly can't handle that, despite the aw-shucks act he puts on.

As for the Vikings, I actually believe Childress when he says, in so many words, that they aren't interested. Tavaris Jackson is looking good early in camp, and as a third year guy should be just entering the first of his prime years. Do the Vikings really want to mess with their plan, and the chemistry they have created, by bringing in the media and fan circus that would come with Favre? My belief is that they have thought about it, and decided against it. They certainly aren't going to spend a high pick for him.

Favre is closing in on 39, and did not participate in any off-season workouts. I will be quite interested to see how he looks when and if he ever steps back on the field, as I suspect he clock may have struck midnight for the guy already. (Don't you think that the Packers' coaching staff has carefully broken down last year's game film, especially from the second half of the year, and come to the same conclusion?)