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Favre should get playbook, not scrapbook

Brett Favre has let it be known he might un-retire this month. 

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Brett Favre has let it be known he might un-retire this month. 

Turns out, there is little currency in memories.

They don't spend well in a pinch, and you can't cash them in for future considerations.

And if you're Brett Favre, they don't buy you much goodwill, even in Green Bay.

What a remarkable story it is, this tale of a legend seemingly locked out of his home. Favre has let it be known he might un-retire this month, and the Packers have hinted that they have moved on without him.

If that sounds cold, it is nothing compared to the antipathy that has greeted the Favre rumors elsewhere. Radio callers in Wisconsin are not rushing to his support. Message boards seem tilted against his return. Even a good number of out-of-town fans act strangely uninterested in any possible acquisition.

All for a Hall of Fame-bound quarterback who took the Packers within a field goal of the Super Bowl last season.

It's almost as if people are annoyed that Favre might be changing his mind. That, after his tearful farewell, they have no sympathy for a player who can't stay away from the field.

Look at it from the standpoint of the Packers, they say. The team has a lot invested in backup quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and have revamped the game plan to fit his style.

Look at it from the standpoint of Rodgers, they say. He has sat quietly behind Favre for three years and has spent the entire offseason under the assumption he is the No. 1 quarterback.

Both are excellent points not to be take lightly.

But look at it from the standpoint of Favre, I say.

An athlete's time is limited. There are only so many games and so many chances in a career and, once lost, they can never be regained.

This seems to be what Favre, 38, has been thinking in recent weeks. That if he lets this season pass him by, he will never again step foot on an NFL field as an active player. And that in future years he might regret not squeezing every last moment of joy out of his career.

Yet some see sinister motives in his return. That he has purposefully put the Packers in a bad situation. That he has somehow cheated Rodgers out of a job. That he duped everyone with his premature retirement.

Can't it just be a guy changing his mind?

Look, there's no question Favre could have handled this better. If the Packers were pushing him for a quick decision in March — and they were — he didn't need to make a retirement announcement. He could have told the Packers to proceed without him, and he would make up his mind later in the summer.

It is also likely that he orchestrated this latest rash of rumors with well-placed media leaks, when it would have served everyone better if he contacted the Packers in private to gauge their response.

Frankly, he could help his cause today if he said he was motivated by nothing more than the love of the game and that he would take a sizable cut in his $13-million salary so the Packers would not have cap concerns.

Instead, the Packers and Favre seem to be engaged in a silent dance. Each one drifting in circles, waiting for the other to make the next move.

It doesn't need to be this dramatic.

If the Packers do not want him back, they need only tell him and then announce they are too far along in their plans to accommodate his return. And if Favre plays in another uniform next season, it is not going to change his legacy in Green Bay.

Just as long as the Packers realize what they could be passing up. Even at his age, Favre is one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL and Rodgers, for all his potential at 24, is still a mystery.

It has been so long since they have had to worry about a new quarterback in Green Bay, they seem to have forgotten how difficult it is to find one.

Once Bart Starr retired in 1970, the Packers went through an assembly line of passers. They tried young hotshots (Don Majkowski) and old retreads (John Hadl). They searched in trades (Lynn Dickey) and near the top of the draft (Jerry Tagge). They wandered for 21 seasons, and had two playoff appearances to show for it.

Then, along comes Favre, and Green Bay's reality changes. The Packers reached the playoffs 11 times in the next 16 seasons. Or, here's another way to look at it. Green Bay had two 10-win seasons in the 20 years before Favre. The Packers averaged 10 wins a season during his time there.

Maybe those are all just memories today, but that doesn't mean they're not worth something.

John Romano can be reached at (727) 893-8811.

Favre should get playbook, not scrapbook 07/10/08 [Last modified: Saturday, July 12, 2008 8:02pm]

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