- Chris Sprow, ESPN Insider
- 0 Shares
Lost amidst all the insinuations about what Brett Favre may or may not have told the Detroit Lions, who reported it first and how Favre could break such an NFL code were two pesky details: 1) what code? 2) it happens all the time.
In fact, it's really a lot worse.
Former NFL player Alan Grant writes for us. Just a couple months ago, in his column, he discussed a quiet but common reality of the waiver wire and the way GMs and coaches are constantly stockpiling information.
My best friend on the Colts was a guy named Stacy Simmons. Midway through our second training camp, he was released. Like most everyone else with more than a day in the NFL, I knew it was a business. Still, this was the first time anyone I knew had seen that business end of things. A couple of days later, when the Patriots claimed and signed him, I felt better. But then, right before the season was set to start, the Pats cut him loose. It didn't occur to me at the time: our opening day opponent was New England. They had signed my good friend Stacy just to get some info on his old team. He was a tool, a cheap manual for a complex machine you would use only once. Once his information had been extracted, his job was done. At the time I thought such moves were rare. They're not. One league GM who wished to remain anonymous tells me more. When it comes the wire, he says, if they really want the player for the long haul—the "long haul" is perhaps a full season—they'll only consider the guy if he's been in a scheme similar to theirs.
The bottom line is this: Say what you want about Matt Millen, but if the man really wanted a good look inside the Green Bay system, he could have added to his team or practice squad any of the dozens of guys the Pack have cut loose in recent years (including this one). It would have cost him pennies.
Anybody who has spent some time covering the NFL can tell you that to concern yourself with whether Favre was passing the goods to the Lions is like freaking out about whether the opposing coach is a semaphor expert and a master of sign stealing. It sounds devious and makes a sexy headline, but conveniently forgets the point that a team has already used cameras to steal information and QBs have had microphones lodged in their helmets for three years.
Sadly, we also conveniently forget that hunting buddies Millen and Favre may have shared top secret information—helping the Lions—for a game the Pack won 48-25 in Week 2, and on the road! This was for a Packers franchise that has traditionally struggled in Detroit. (Redigest that phrase: "Traditionally struggled in Detroit.")
If Favre passed anything to Millen, it was far less valuable than any of the times an informant called Saddam a day before the attack to say, "The Americans are coming. Mobilize the Navy!"
Between a preposterous scoop race and the NFL media alert words "cheater" and "Favre", this story ultimately wasn't one. A phone call?
It's already way worse than that.
Passing information over the phone? The NFL can do much worse.