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Don't be fooled: Packers' brass nervously watching Favre saga unfold

by Michael Case
For years, the name Brett Favre struck fear in the hearts of many a Green Bay opponent…his rocket-like arm and gunslinger mentality always a threat to both amaze and embarrass you all at once. Countless coaching staffs became victims to his raw talent and record book re-writing passing attack.

Over the past two years, the storied partnership between the Green and Gold and his Favreness has grown, at best, distant. Ted Thompson drafted Aaron Rodgers and no doubt at some point intended to implement his chosen successor to the Favre-empire into the grand scheme of things at any cost to number four.

The Pack suffered through two seasons of post-Mike Sherman sub-500 ball, the first time in Favre’s career such an occurrence happened. All the while, Thompson could have elected to start Rodgers then, and truly go into a rebuilding mode. But instead, he drafted heavy on the defensive side of the ball, and shuffled through a new rotation of offensive linemen and running backs. The main piece that made the Pack worth coming to see remained Brett Favre.

Then during the 2007 campaign, Brett and the revamped Pack, one of the youngest teams in the league, went on a startling run that took them to a 13 and 3 regular season mark and essentially one overtime period from the Super Bowl. While Favre gets hammered for throwing a pick in the closing minutes of that game, one missed field goal or even one Al Harris blown assignment on Plaxico Burress in regulation could have helped the Pack avoid even reaching sudden death.
It was then that the Packer organization made a very visible attempt at kindly helping Brett find his way back to Mississippi. In a circus that lasted all summer, several Green Bay officials and coaches waivered back and forth just as much as Brett in statements that made it clear that Aaron Rodgers was being given the reigns, and that Brett would be welcomed back “if he truly wanted to play.”

Obviously he did. And probably voiced that to the Packers several times. In the end, a messy divorce saw Brett headed to the New York Jets and the Packers blocking his route to the Metrodome. Ted had kept his stable leader in place through the tough times, had re-tooled the Pack and was now ready to discard the aging vet and hand a proven contender over to his chosen one.

But while Brett proceeded to put up Pro Bowl numbers over the first eleven weeks with an offense he knew little about and had little time to learn, the Pack floundered. In New York, under a coach who wouldn’t either reign in the future hall-of-famer when he was hurt, or go the run more when his back, Thomas Jones, thanks in part to the respect Brett brought to the Jets aerial show, was leading the league in rushing. Leon Washington never got the ball as much as he should have, Laverneous Coles had a hard time catching a cold and an offensive line that featured two first-round picks and two high-priced free agents couldn’t seem to get enough push at times to gain a yard.

Then of course, the injury to Favre’s throwing shoulder. While Favre-haters love to point out his poor performance in the waning weeks of the season, it was obvious he was ailing and the jokers who ran the show in Jet land did little to ease the burden despite success in the running game, allowing Brett to attempt 30-plus passes in several of the last few weeks.

Now, there is word the Vikings may indeed acquire Favre. Or Favre may indeed acquire his Viking teammates, depends on how you look at this situation. Either way, this could turn out to be the ultimate public relations nightmare for the Packer staff.

If Brett storms into Lambeau and helps the Vikings torch the Pack this fall…and along the way aide an already potent team in a division with huge question marks…Ted Thompson could be meeting with very angry Packer shareholders come January. One must wonder had the Packers kept Brett, would there have been a shift in power last season in the NFC North? As many experts will tell you, you cannot win in this league without either a stout defense or an elite quarterback…or a combination of both. The Packers lost at least 5 games last season by less than a touchdown…games an experienced leader on offense could have helped to end differently.
No matter what may be said publicly by anyone affiliated with the Packer organization, rest assured that one number they do not want to see on the field this fall in purple is four.

And if that indeed happens, they better pray to the football gods that the numbers on the scoreboard tell a tale of something other than redemption for that very same number four.

Packers Mix blog featured writers John Linn, Zach Letter
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