Can someone summarize the Brett Favre retirement fiasco?

Maybe it’s not an issue anymore but I always used to hear people moan about Brett Favre and his retirement. What was the big deal here? Was he supposed to retire and didn’t? Was he constantly changing his mind? What was the main thrust of the moaning and groaning here?

This wikipedia article has a timeline/summary.

I saw the timeline, but didn’t understand why people were in such agony over the entire thing.

I’m sure a lot of folks will be contributing to this but I’ll quickly throw out what’ll I’ll allow myself to remember of the unpleasantness. Basically, he had a remarkable, successful career and decided to quit on top, which is an admirable thing for an aging athelete to do. There was much fanfare from the game announcers each week paying homage to his skills and legacy. Same with the fans and Packer organization. All well and good.

Then he decided to unretire, he came back again and all of a sudden you’re having to suffer through hearing all this adolation again. And again… sometimes with a different team, like the hated Jets and Vikings. So now not only are the non-Packer fans sick of hearing about Favre but even those that had rooted for him and defended him before felt betrayed.

Then he started sending pictures of his willy over his cell phone. His wife of course was not amused and now even wives across the country that never gave a crap about football before grew sick of Farve.

His retirement is a classic example of how to completely butcher a once proud legacy.

It had a measurable and tangible effect on the team:

Because he would jerk around the team and organization, it affected who they drafted and who they paid. He negatively affected the planning and strategy year after year.

Brett’s gone? Let’s burn a draft pick on QB, very high… very expensive. Oh, he’s back? We could have bolstered our offensive line with that pick! Multiply accordingly over the years.

So, yeah… were he not to change his mind, the Vikings might even be better right now. They could have altered the course of the history with better planning. Their drafting and planning were negatively impacted by Favre.


(Packer fan here)

Yup, this is pretty much it. He would spend the entire off-season waffling on whether or not he was going to come back, or not. It made it very hard for the Packers (and, later, the Vikings) to plan for the upcoming season.

Then, he finally did retire (for the first time) after the 2007 season, after coming a single play away from leading the Packers back to the Super Bowl. At that point, he was practically venerated in Wisconsin. The Packers had drafted his heir apparent, Aaron Rodgers, three years earlier, and proceeded with planning for the 2008 season with Rodgers, who had bided his time behind Favre, a guy who had shown little interest in helping to mentor Rodgers, as their QB.

When, months later, Favre indicated he wanted back in, the Packers (who had been suffering from the “will he or won’t he” dance for several previous seasons) felt that going back to Favre would piss off Rodgers, and make it likely that Rodgers would move on (IIRC, his contract was up after the 2008 season), leaving them with no one if Favre then left again. So, they told Favre, “thanks, but no thanks”.

At that point, Favre apparently felt that the Packers (and GM Ted Thompson, in particular) were disrespecting him, and he demanded a trade, preferably to the Vikings (ostensibly because his buddy, Darrel Bevell, was the offensive co-ordinator there, but it was obviously, at least in part, to be able to flip the bird at Thompson). The Pack refused to trade him to a division rival, and instead traded him to the Jets, in the other conference. Then, Favre did the whole retire / un-retire schtick again in early 2009, though it seems pretty clear that he did that to engineer being able to go to Minnesota.

So basically he had a good legacy but then his indecision started jerking around everyone’s plans, causing a lot of unnecessary distraction/focus on drama and potentially suboptimal team structures?

That’s a good chunk of it. It also exposed him as being particularly selfish, not a great quality in a team sport.


Some people, myself included, might question whether “indecision” really came into play. I though every time he went through the retirement hoopla, and especially during those periods where he was being scrutinized about coming out of retirement, that he knew all along he’d be back. He was just thriving on all the attention and that’s not going to endear you to a number of fans of the game.

It’s entirely possible. I’ve also suspected that he was no fan of participating in the teams’ off-season training programs, and being “retired” from January through July was a great way to avoid having to trek up to Wisconsin or Minnesota from Mississippi to work out and sit in the classroom.

I think that hits the nail on the head. He was idolized as, first and foremost, a Packer player and a team player. The Packers were sorry to see him retire, but his adoration would have continued if he had stayed retired. Coming out and causing an upset was bad enough, but coming out and playing for someone else was the last straw.

I say we should re-activate jersey number 4.

Moved from GQ to the Game Room.

Speaking as a Vikings fan in Wisconsin, I can’t say I really heard much from Favre (or his camp) talking about retirement until about 2006. I think people (i.e. media) started talking about it sooner, but mainly because they need something to fill the pages and airwaves. He was still just, what?, 36 in 2005? He hadn’t had any major injuries, and the Packers were winning for the most part with him. There was little reason for him to retire. There was the talk after his dad died that maybe he lost some enthusiasm, but for a guy to be down after his dad died is completely understandable.

I think it gathered more momentum after a disappointing 2006 season, but still…I think it was more the media (and maybe fans) speculating that he would retire because the Packers had drafted Rodgers, and they were in fact putting the cart before the horse. He had complained about the Packers not going for Randy Moss (certainly an indicator he planned to stay and wanted to win). Also, remember that Rodgers was a Jeff Tedford qb, which many thought would lead to disaster in the NFL. Other Tedford qbs include Akili Smith, Joey Harrington, and Kyle Boller.

From the NFC title game loss to the Giants in early '08 on, yes he was all over with his opinions.

ETA: To clarify the 2006 thing, I think Favre and his camp sort of talked about it, but only because the question was being put to him. He wasn’t really making proclamations that he was ready to hang up the cleats.

Well, he obviously hadn’t had a catastrophic injury (since he had that tremendous consecutive-starts streak), but he did get beat up a lot. Several ankle sprains, an injury to his throwing hand (broken bone, IIRC) which never healed entirely right, etc.

In addition, he wasn’t nearly as effective a QB in 2005 (Packers went 4-12) and 2006 (8-8) as he had been in prior seasons, so that probably fueled some of the talk, as well.

Probably so; my memory gets fuzzy. It may be that, for those last couple of seasons, it was more of a question of not coming right out and saying “I’m coming back” at the end of the prior season.

The other thing: He wasn’t going to lose a QB competition to a young Aaron Rogers.

He retired. Then he tried to come back to the Packers and they said “No thanks. We’re good”.

There was also the sense, in addition to doing the retire/unretire thing as a circuitous way of picking what team he’d play for, that he was doing it to feed his own insatiable ego.

[Packer Fan] Actually, even late into his career, his off season work ethic was much admired and often cited for team unity.

He turned the welfare of the team into a spotlight for him, and he did it for him. Later, cutting on the team that won him two Super Bowls when he was with the Jets and later the Vikings (a decision made to specifically spite the Packers) turned his ignoble end into a despised one.

It continually warms this Packer heart that Rodgers is the shit too.

I think a lot of resentment also comes from the almost non stop coverage on sports radio and tv. August is a dead month for sports, there is MLB baseball, NFL training camp holdouts and contract squabbles, and preseason NFL football.

So, sports talk radio and ESPN dedicated endless hours of coverage to the Favre drama.