Brett Favre: A 'Rocky' Return?
Posted Jul. 16 at 09:24 AM
In the middle of “Rocky Balboa” (one of the best in the series. I’m serious) Rocky’s son tries to talk him out of fighting again, saying he’s too old. The Athletic Commission also tries to protect Rocky, originally denying him a license to fight. Even Paulie thinks the idea is silly. Only his friend Marie (reprised from the first movie) encourages him to follow his heart and go ahead with the bout. “Fighters fight,” she tells him.
It turned out that the public in the movie (and in real-life, with a box office gross of more than $70 million domestically and $150 million worldwide) were eager for another chapter in the Rocky Balboa saga. Unfortunately for Brett Favre, the Packers aren’t as receptive to an 18th installment (and 17th in Green Bay) of his story.
It’s almost unfair to compare Favre to the fictional Balboa. Unfair to Balboa, that is: Brett Favre is beyond legend in Green Bay. The considerable money he has is no good in the area, or anywhere cheeseheads might be residing. His fans can hardly think of enough ways to praise him.
(In this year’s edition of Fantasy Football Index, Andy Richardson described naming a league after the guy for several years. He wasn’t kidding. If you think that’s strange, try playing in that league and telling people in Tampa about the “Favre League” you’re in).
But even die-hard fans are getting tired of the annual dance regarding his retirement options. In fact, the team and many fans are ready to move on. After a few years of will-he-or-won’t-he ... he finally did. Brett Favre retired, Aaron Rodgers was named the starter and the team was gearing up for another season. And then, somewhere along the way, he changed his mind. A few times, apparently.
Of course, now it’s getting embarrassing. First he wanted to be courted, then he dropped not-so-subtle hints about coming back, then he was texting GM Ted Thompson. What’s next? Drunk-dialing the team in the middle of the night? Stalking them as they hold minicamps?
(Spoiler warning – the ending of Rocky Balboa is revealed later in this column.)
Well, what’s next looks like asking to be released so he can play somewhere else. Fans (including poor John Madden) might have to get used to seeing Favre wearing another jersey. But what people have to understand is that it’s not about the Packers or the fans or his legacy. It’s about Brett Favre wanting to play football. Yeah, he changed his mind. So what? The Packers are free to cut him or trade him and move on. He’s not holding them hostage. No NFL player can hold a team hostage: They can be released at any time or sit and rot on the bench. Players have goodwill and a legacy, but NFL teams are billion-dollar operations. Nobody can steamroll an NFL franchise. Not even Brett Favre.
I don’t think it’s about winning another Super Bowl, either. I think he knows that in about three years he will be physically unable to compete in the NFL on any level, and those skills will never, ever come back. He just wants to play out his remaining years and breathe the competitive air -- if not victory -- as long as he can. Brett Favre doesn’t seem to care about his legacy. He just wants to play. You don’t have to respect the way he’s handling himself, but as someone who likes football you have to respect that kind of drive in a player. Randy Moss takes plays off, but you have to drag Favre kicking and screaming off the field.
I know that many people will lament any potential return, especially if he goes to another team. But it wouldn’t bother me at all. Thurman Thomas went to Miami, and Joe Montana went to Kansas City. Even Tony Dorsett had a stint in Denver and Johnny Unitas finished his career as a Charger. Who cares? What we want isn’t as important as what Brett Favre wants ... and even that isn’t as important as what the Green Bay Packers want.
In the movie, Rocky decides to move ahead with his boxing match ... and loses. But that doesn’t matter at all. He did what he wanted to do and proved he could still compete. Favre can certainly do the same. Maybe he’ll stay retired, but if he doesn’t I’m sure he’ll be happy with the decision, even if thousands hate it. Do what you gotta do, Brett. Fighters fight.
YouTube Clip of The Week: This might be the only way to get the ball out of Favre’s hands.
You can reach Michael Murillo at firstname.lastname@example.org..
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