|JENKINS ON FOOTBALL: Different feel to this year's 'Favre watch'|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 24 January 2008 16:05|
The Packers' overtime loss to the New York Giants in Sunday's NFC Championship game was much more than the end of football season in Green Bay.
It was also the official kickoff of the annual Brett Favre retirement watch, as America's favorite football flip-flopper once again mulls his future back home in Mississippi.
Death. Taxes. Brett?
Maybe the real surprise is that this annual exercise doesn't have corporate sponsorship this year. Something like, ``The Depends Brett Favre retirement watch, presented by the maker of those electric scooters you always see in the grocery store.''
Still, as much as Favre's annual flirtation with retirement has become a rite of winter in Wisconsin, this year's version has a slightly different feel to it.
For the first time in a while, it feels like Brett Favre needs the Green Bay Packers just as much, if not more, than the Packers need Favre.
Just two seasons removed from being one of the worst teams in the league, the Packers have been completely overhauled by general manager Ted Thompson and coached to the upper limits of their potential by Mike McCarthy.
That success, as a team and not merely a group of role players sitting back and waiting for Favre to do his thing, could cause a shift in the sometimes uneasy balance of power between Favre and the Packers' front office.
Because for the first time in years, Favre isn't holding all the face cards.
Sure, anything can happen to a contender - just ask the participants of last season's NFC Championship game, the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints - but it seems like the Packers' mix of young players and veterans locked into long-term contracts has them poised for success over the next several seasons.
Certainly, Favre was the catalyst of that success on offense. But given the way Aaron Rodgers played after Favre was injured in the Dallas game, is it out of bounds to wonder whether the Packers could have gone 9-7 and made the playoffs with the easygoing Cal kid under center?
Meanwhile, Favre ended an otherwise remarkable season on the sourest of notes, suddenly showing his age in subzero temperatures and badly missing on the interception that set up the Giants' game-winning field goal.
It's hard to imagine Favre's pride allowing him to go out like that - not with a good chance to win a second Super Bowl ring next season, the one thing that keeps Favre just on the outside edge of conversations about the greatest quarterbacks of all time.
Don't consider any of this a vote for Favre to retire.
However, if he comes back, here's guessing it will be on the Packers' terms.
That means no dragging out the decision until April, as he did two years ago.
That means no stomping his feet over lost free agent opportunities, as he did last year after the Packers chose not to complete a deal for Randy Moss.
No trade requests either, big fella.
And, yes, Favre will be expected to put in some face time in Green Bay during the offseason.
That's a big difference from when McCarthy took over as the Packers' coach two years ago. He wasn't a known commodity then, and couldn't afford to be known as the guy who drove Brett Favre out of town.
Same goes for Thompson, who had been around a little longer but hadn't yet proven he had what it took to dig out of the wasteland of a roster Mike Sherman left for him.
With the Packers coming off a 4-12 season and lacking credibility, Thompson and McCarthy needed Favre to come back and buy them time to establish their program.
Now Thompson has a contract extension and McCarthy is close to one. They're running the team their way.
That means Thompson won't go out and get a free agent just because Favre thinks it's a good idea, and McCarthy won't accept ``just tryin' to make a play'' as an excuse for an interception.
That's the deal. Favre can take it or leave it.
Here's guessing he takes it.