By Jason Whitlock
Special to Page 2

Brett Favre does not want to retire.

I repeat: Brett Favre has zero interest in leaving the game of football.

Brett Favre
AP
Is Brett Favre discouraged? Yes. But that doesn't mean he wants to retire.

Do you understand me?

Favre's latest Barbara Walters-style interview, with ESPN's Chris Mortensen on Sunday, is being totally misinterpreted by the football media.

Because Favre said this, "If I had to pick right now and make a decision, I would say I'm not coming back," people actually believe Favre is leaning toward retirement.

He's not. In my opinion, having studied his words very carefully, having reflected on where he is in his career, I believe Favre is simply laying the foundation for his exit out of Green Bay and into a new uniform.

In my opinion, that's what he wants, and that's what we all deserve. Why no one else seems to recognize what Favre is doing is baffling to me.

The incompetence of the Mike Holmgren/Ron Wolf/Reggie White-less Packers is pushing Favre toward retirement, and Favre finally is pushing back. By spilling his innermost rhetoric to Mort, Favre handed Packers general manager Ted Thompson the wiggle room he needs to deal the Packers icon to a playoff-ready franchise without mobilizing a Wisconsin lynch mob.

"When you sit down and tell a GM, 'I don't know if I can give you everything' -- and I have -- that's usually the first ticket out of town," said Favre, who also said he should be "cut loose" if Thompson doesn't want to wait on a decision.

Favre wants a ticket out of town because it's no fun playing for the Packers anymore and, at 36, he can't waste any more years waiting for Thompson and Co. to restore the fun. Green Bay quit being fun when Holmgren packed up his clipboards and moved to Seattle. Green Bay turned downright disgusting last year when Favre suffered through his first losing season and threw 29 interceptions in a futile and embarrassing attempt to turn Packer chicken poop into chicken salad.

Thompson torpedoed any thoughts of things getting better quickly when he tagged the Doogie Howser architect of the league's worst offense -- San Francisco's Mike McCarthy -- to fix Green Bay's mess.

Can you blame Favre for wanting out?

His footballogical clock is ticking, and he's being held hostage in Green Bay. He knows he can still play. He believes his last-minute meltdowns and interceptions are a byproduct of being forced to play Rambo every Sunday.

"I still know I can play," Favre told Mort. "I still love to play. But there's just so much more to it than that now. I never thought it would be complicated, never thought mentally I would give out before I did physically."

Let me tell you what's complicated. Favre knows that if he says what he really thinks -- perhaps "I'd like to finish my career down south, preferably with the Dolphins, because I don't want to waste time with Green Bay's rebuilding project. It was fun playing in Green Bay for Mike and Ron and with Reggie. But I'm a good old boy from the sticks, and I'd be happier finishing this thing up down in the humidity" -- Packers fans would feel betrayed by Favre and want to kill Thompson.

Favre doesn't want to disturb his legacy or cost Thompson his job. Favre is trying to take the high road. He's trying to worm his way into a Miami or Tampa Bay uniform subtly.

Brett Favre
AP
Favre has given Green Bay everything he has. Now it's time for Green Bay to let him go.

But we, the media, won't cooperate. We refuse to take the obvious bait and start writing and discussing how Favre has done all he can for football's most revered franchise and city and how it's best for the team, the league and Favre for the Packers to trade their gunslinger to a contender.

"I love the team, I love the Packers, and it's not about me, it's about everyone involved, and I want to make the right decision for everyone involved," Favre told Mort.

If we, the media, don't begin to cooperate, one of two things is going to happen:

1. Favre will retire and most of the NFL's TV broadcasters will lose 65 percent of their material, which will cause a commentary crisis like we haven't seen since Larry Bird's retirement.

2. Out of frustration, Favre will lose it and incinerate the entire state of Wisconsin by spelling out his trade demands.

I'm banking on the latter. I've seen it a million times. I've lived it. Favre is a super competitor who still wants to compete. He's working for incompetents. It's a bad recipe.

Favre wants to depart with a little class. Those of us in the media can facilitate the process by participating in the "Free Favre Movement." It's a positive spin-off of the "Fire Millen Movement."

We need to explain to the people of Wisconsin why trading Favre for a couple of draft picks and putting the ball into the hands of developing second-year QB Aaron Rodgers is the best thing for the Packers organization, Favre's sanity and John Madden's broadcasting career.

Heck, the league would be better served showcasing Favre on a playoff team rather than watching him throw late-game interceptions on a bad squad.

Free Favre, Wisconsin. You've enjoyed him long enough.

Jason Whitlock is a regular columnist for The Kansas City Star. His newspaper is celebrating his 10 years as a columnist with the publishing of Jason's first book, "Love Him, Hate Him: 10 Years of Sports, Passion and Kansas City." It's a collection of Jason's most memorable, thought-provoking and funny columns over the past decade. You can purchase the book at TheKansasCityStore.com. Jason can be reached by e-mail at ballstate68@aol.com.




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