Commentary

Packers make their choice with Favre; now they can wallow in it

Updated: August 7, 2008, 12:47 PM ET
By Gene Wojciechowski | ESPN.com

From green and gold to green and white. From, "Go, Pack, Go" to "J-E-T-S." From the NFL's smallest market to the league's largest.

Brett Favre's life did a 180 late Wednesday night, and it happened because Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson didn't trust Favre, and Favre didn't trust Thompson.

Drag a razor across this controversy's beard and that's what you'll find under the stubble -- distrust, too much scar tissue and the simple yet mind-boggling fact that Packers management thinks Favre isn't good enough to win. If it thought otherwise, Favre wouldn't be the quarterback of the New York Jets today.

Anyway, so much for the Packers wanting to protect Favre's "legacy." Remember that bit of PR fiction? The benevolent, caring Packers would be there to safeguard all things Brett -- that's what they said often in recent weeks. But the protection broke down when Favre decided to unretire and return to Green Bay.

Favre is a Jet because Thompson didn't want him to be a Packer. Or a Minnesota Viking. And who can forget that heartfelt "crossing the Rubicon" statement by Packers team president Mark Murphy when Favre was reinstated by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Any icier and you could have played hockey on it.

Brett Favre
AP Photo/Mike RoemerBrett Favre as he left Green Bay...ultimately for the last time as a Packer.
For all those Favre critics who insist he's a drama queen, remember that he could have stayed in Green Bay, practiced, competed in an open competition with Aaron Rodgers and dared Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy to keep him on the bench. But he didn't. He left after several days because he has more respect for the Packers than the Packers have for him.

Packers management thought Favre wouldn't push for reinstatement and report to camp, but he did. It thought he would take its $25 million of get-lost money, but he didn't. It thought it could break his will by refusing to release him or trade him to the Vikings, but it couldn't.

And nice job on accusing the Vikings of tampering (the Vikes were cleared of any wrongdoing). Plus, wasn't it interesting that someone leaked a story that Favre allegedly called the Vikings on a Packers-issued cell phone (also untrue).

If this were a divorce, then Favre would be the one getting the alimony. The Packers were so eager to ditch the NFL's all-time leader in passing yards, touchdowns and victories by a QB that they reduced the bidding war to two teams (the Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers). And they settled for a conditional fourth-round pick, which will bump up to a third-rounder if Favre takes 50 percent of the snaps (duh), and a second-rounder if he takes 70 percent of the snaps and the Jets reach the playoffs.

Instead of Favre -- who earlier last season helped lead the Packers to the NFC Championship Game and finished second in the league's MVP voting -- Thompson would rather have three quarterbacks on his roster with a combined zero NFL starts. He'd rather have Rodgers than the most durable quarterback in the history of the game.

Brett Favre 2008 Timeline

The Brett Favre saga in Green Bay might be nearing a conclusion after the unretired quarterback said he and the team might be better off without each other. A look at how the story has unfolded:

Aug. 6: Traded to New York Jets for conditional draft pick.

Aug. 5: Left practice facility in the afternoon ... did not practice with the team ... met with Packers officials to discuss trade options ... tells ESPN's Chris Mortensen "the best thing for this team is for us to part ways" ... considers talking to the Buccaneers about a possible trade.

Aug. 4: Favre reports to training camp and is added to active roster after passing physical

Aug. 3: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reinstates Favre

July 31: Favre offered $25 million to not report to camp

July 30: Meets with Packers president Mark Murphy in Mississippi

July 29: Faxes reinstatement request to NFL

July 25: Favre tells Packers he plans to report to training camp

July 19: Returns to Lambeau Field to attend Packers Hall of Fame ceremony

July 16: Packers file tampering charges with NFL against Vikings

July 11: Packers receive letter from Favre formally requesting release

July 8: Favre asks for release with understanding he won't be starter

July 6: Sends text message to Packers GM Ted Thompson

July 2: Favre says reports of return were "all rumor"

June 20: Favre tells coach Mike McCarthy he may want to play again

April 9: Says he might consider comeback if opportunity was presented

April 4: Agent reportedly contacts teams to gauge trade interest

April 3: Denies rumors of a comeback

March 6: Favre conducts retirement news conference

Jan. 20: Packers lose NFC Championship Game to the Giants in OT
-- Compiled by ESPN Research
Why? It isn't just because Favre wanted to unretire. It can't be. It has to be something as fundamental as Thompson (and maybe McCarthy, too) having lost faith in Favre's ability to win games. If so, Thompson miscalculated yet again.

Thompson's future now depends on Rodgers. If Rodgers gets hurt, the Packers are done. If Rodgers can't handle the pressure, the Packers are done. And Thompson with them.

Of the two finalists for Favre, the Jets actually made the most sense. The Buccaneers already have Jeff Garcia, who made the Pro Bowl last season. Meanwhile, the Jets are underwhelmed by Chad Pennington, who is minutes away from getting released because of his $6 million salary, and Kellen Clemens.

The Jets spent $140 million during the offseason on players. They upgraded their offensive line by signing guard Alan Faneca, who will fit in nicely on the left side with tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson. They upgraded their defensive line (nose tackle Kris Jenkins). They have Thomas Jones at running back (1,119 yards last season). They have Laveranues Coles at wide receiver.

Yes, they're in the same division as the New England Patriots. But they're also in the same division as the Miami Dolphins and the Buffalo Bills. They play Oakland, Kansas City, St. Louis and San Francisco. A nine-win season, maybe a game better, isn't inconceivable. At least, not any more inconceivable than Favre in New York.

It will be strange to see Favre in a Jets helmet. It would have been strange to see him in any helmet that didn't have the game's best logo -- that classic G -- on the side.

On the Jets' Web site, you can already purchase a Favre replica jersey for $80. There's also a tortured headline that reads, "DO QB-LIEVE IT? BRETT FAVRE IS A JET."

No, I don't believe it. Not because he's a Jet, but because Thompson just traded the best quarterback on his roster.

"It is with some sadness that we make this announcement, but also with the desire for certainty that will allow us to move the team and organization forward in the most positive way possible," Murphy and Thompson said in a joint statement.

Sadness? Thompson never wanted Favre back to begin with. Plus, the Packers got a draft pick out of it, they saved $25 million in bribe money, and they're still selling Favre jerseys for $179.95. So enough already with the fake sadness thing.

But if I'm a Packers fan, I fly my team flag at half-mast today. Or better yet, raise a Jets flag.

They're only $20 at Jets Shop.

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn3.com.

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