Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

30 Jan 2006

Favre Leaning Toward Retirement

Brett Favre tells Chris Mortensen that he's strongly considering retirement. It sounds like he feels that the Packers are rushing him to make a decision soon. Favre would still be a better quarterback than Aaron Rodgers in 2006, but getting Favre's $10 million salary off the books would help the Packers. My guess is the team's top brass wants Favre to retire but doesn't want the bad PR of forcing him out.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 30 Jan 2006

38 comments, Last at 31 Jan 2006, 8:03pm by Barb


by JustAsking (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 6:48am

Retiring? Isn't he the guy who lives in Detroit?

by Tequila (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 7:15am

What the hell is the point of hiring Mike McCarthy if you don't want Favre back? Do they actually think McCarthy's the most qualified candidate?

by Harris (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 8:12am

The Patriots and especially the Eagles get a lot of criticism for heartlessly giving aging veterans the boot, but neither of those teams would get themselves into this situation.

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 9:53am

I have been a Favre fan since day one of his career in Green Bay but in this instance he is so full of sh*t it defies imagination.

Favre began talking about retirement in 1999!!! Every year HE brought it up at some point during the offseason or training camp. And around 2001 this saga has taken a life of its own.

I have long felt that Favre brought up the "I might retire soon" mantra to force the team to build a championship level squad. Not that that isn't ALWAYS the goal of any NFL team. But I suspect that Favre didn't want any moment or dollar wasted in helping get him back to the Super Bowl.

And if Ron Wolf had stayed on as GM for a year or two longer Favre might have had his chance for an Elway like exit. But Ron wanted out and Green Bay made the disasterous choice of having Sherman become GM as well as coach.

Because along with not being the talent eye of Wolf Sherman could not ignore his star QB's threat. Ron Wolf wouldn't have allowed himself to be muscled. The Joe Johnson signing was a big red flag that Mike Sherman wanted to mollify his superstar with the appearnce of DOING something. I could go on for several paragraphs, but I am sure any good football fan can quickly recall the personnel decisions that caused the proud GB franchise to crumble into dust.

Am I writing that Favre is ultimately responsible for the mess in Green Bay?

Indirectly I think he holds some of the blame. His veiled threats clearly influenced team decisions. (for the worse) Folks can point to Sherman and say he should have done what's in the best interest of the team, Favre be d*mned. Easy to write or say. Not easy when the player in question is beloved by an entire state of loyal fans as well as by a larger NFL crowd. How many times has this site seethed at the announcers fawning over Favre?

The Green Bay Packers need to issue a public statement that they appreciate everything Favre has done for the franchise, that they would be thrilled if he returns for the 2006 season, but that the team is ready to move forward with Aaron Rodgers if Favre retires.


And make decisions as if Favre is NOT coming back. Because there isn't a player in the draft or in free agency that is going to land this mismash of a squad into the Super Bowl. So whatever Favre does is pretty much irrelevant.

He's reaching the point where if says good-bye will anyone notice?

by Liam (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 10:23am

# 4 ...

I'd go one step further and tell Favre that if he wants to come back they can't afford to pay him anywhere near $10m because rebuilding HAS to start right now.

If people believed that management tried to force Favre out it would be a disaster, but they should be able to spell it out to him that any other option would seriously damage the franchise.

To be honest, if Brett really wants to play one more year why not come back on a vet minimum salary, a-la Bettis?

by luz (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 11:29am


bettis isn't playing for the minimum. he took a big pay cut but not that big.

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 11:29am

Re: 4/5

I originally thought that asking Favre to take a pay cut would be PR disaster, but the more I think of it the more sense it makes. He's not worth $10MM at this point and I think even his most ardent supporters would agree with that. If his declines to take a cut (regardless of how they position it) then I think GB fans will view it as him not being willing to help the team.

by CA (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 12:09pm

Does anyone believe that, all things considered, the Packers are better off from a purely football perspective if Favre returns? If not, shouldn't Packers fans, as opposed to Favre fans, be hoping that he does not return, be it through retirement, trade, or being cut? I'm wondering if Packers fans are secretly hoping that Mike McCarthy mutters something about "diminishing skills" and puts an end to this saga.

by Arkaein (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 12:28pm

#6: Yes, from a football standpoint the Packers are better off with Favre. Through about the first six games of this last season Favre showed he still has the ability to play at a high level (13 TDs, 8 INTs, 3 games over 70% completions). Then came the Cincinatti game, he throws 5 picks, and basically played wrecklessly and badly the rest of the year.

I've been thinking about that timing a bit, and I think that the Cincy game was also the first game after Ahman Green was lost for the year (with Davenport already gone behind him). I wonder if Favre got so wreckless because he figured that without a running game the offense was now 100% on his shoulders. Of course the running game was terrible before Green got hurt, but I could see Green's injury causing that kind of thought process.

If Walker comes back next year in reasonably good form from his injury it will be an automatic boost to the passing game and Favre could be a potential 30 TD passer again, with a good chance at staying around 15 INTs. I'm not convinced Rodgers will do that. Heck I'm not convinced that Rodgers is better than Craig Nall (3rd QB). I hope that if Favre does retire they give Nall a fair shot at winning the staring job.

by EJP (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 12:35pm

I'm a Packers fan, and I'm selfish. I want Favre back for one more year. Of course, I've said "one more year" every year for the past four years. But now, with such major milestones for passing TDs and wins within legitimate grasp, I REALLY want one more year. I'd like to see Favre pass Marino for all-time TD passes. Like I said, I'm selfish.

Favre has QB'ed the Packers for over half of my life. Watching my team without him would be odd.

I do think the Packers would be a better team with Favre next year than they would with Rodgers. I want one more year. You never know. They could be the next NFL team to rise from the ashes, surprise some people, and make a legitimate run.

Of course, they could sputter to another embarrassing 4-12 record. I could handle that, if Favre gets the 25 or so TDs he needs to pass Marino.

Anyways, that's enough rambling from this Packers fan. Go Pack!

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 12:38pm

Cincinnati! One "t", two "n"s! Yeesh! :)

Well, I said in preseason that this was going to end up a very bad season for Favre, and it did. His TD/int ratio was bad in the preseason, and it ended up... bad in the regular season (20/26).

To me it's frustrating that Favre won't take himself out of the limelight and actually be a backup. Backup QBs don't get their due - Palmer in Cincy has repeatedly insisted that Kitna come back, because he can't afford to lose him.

To me, that's the biggest difference between Favre and Bettis, or even Marshall Faulk. And Favre's saying "nah, being a backup is beneath me"? That's just stupid.

by EJP (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 12:42pm

Re: #9. I agree. Before Rodgers was drafted, I had hoped the Pack would give Nall a chance. He's been with the team and in the system for several years. His statistics when he has entered games is pretty good, and he did well in NFL Europe. I was disappointed when Rodgers was drafted, as I knew that Nall would have no fair shot at competing.

by Parker (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 12:44pm

The sky is falling.

The sky is falling.

by Arkaein (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 12:58pm

Sorry, in my previous post I meant to reply to CA in #8, not luz in #6.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 1:16pm

What is odd about this situation is that, talent-wise, Favre is still better than at least half the starting quarterbacks in the NFL, and probably more. Hell, his arm is still better than at least 85% of the starting qbs in the league, and at one time he was an excellent decision-maker, if a little too bold occasionally. Put him in a situation with a decent team around him and with a coaching staff which isn't afraid to coach him, and he could still play at an extremely high level, if he'll still allow himself to be coached.

The problem is that it is likely going to take at least year or two for the rest of the Packers to be decent again, and it doesn't appear that Favre wants to be coached by anyone anymore. If he did, it'd be kinda fun to see him in, say, Miami, or, gosh, (and I know it is impossible) Washington or Dallas.

I freely admit that I don't have much nostalgic feeling for players staying with one team their entire career, which probably makes me unusual. I'd still enjoy watching Favre throw lasers, however, if only he could be convinced to throw them at the right time.

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 1:24pm

To speak to Will's point Favre was actually in BETTER physical condition in 2005 than he had been in prior years.

Green Bay's season was doomed by Ted Thompson failing to find adequate guards, injuries, and Favre having a secret frontal lobotamy after the MNF against the Viking. From that game until the end of the season was the worst stretch of quarterbacking I have seen in the NFL by any QB. And that only happened because Favre is who he is. No OTHER quarterback would have kept his job during that disasterous stretch.

Some of the throws were so spectacularly bad that they defy explanation. Even the young and wildly reckless Favre of 1992-1994 did not make the throws the league witnessed in shocked horror in December, 2005.

I will refrain from criticizing Favre for wanting to PLAY. Any athlete struggles with the end because they all WANT to play. What is worthy of criticism is the public debate. He is becoming a laughingstock through nobody's fault but his own.

by Michael David Smith :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 1:29pm

I'd love to see Favre play for someone else. I'd also like to see Jerry Rice come back. (I'm still baffled that the Lions didn't offer him a roster spot.) I agree with Will that it doesn't bother me for a player to close out his career with a different team, and it definitely doesn't bother me with someone like Favre who didn't even start with the team with which everyone associates him.

by Majik (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 1:42pm

RE:11 It's really unfair to compare Favre to Bettis and Faulk. Those players became backups, but as runningbacks. First off, RB's get hurt more. Second, backup's usually get some playing time every game. Plus with those two players, Bettis is used in short yardage, Faulk on third downs. So while they took a smaller role they still got on the field a lot. If Favre (or any QB) were to step down into a back up role, they would not play unless there was an injury or something.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 1:48pm

RE:11 It’s really unfair to compare Favre to Bettis and Faulk. Those players became backups, but as runningbacks.

I really fail to see the difference. While a backup QB doesn't see playing time, a backup QB can be far more valuable than a backup RB, because the backup QB is an extra set of eyes on what the defense is doing. See the Jon Kitna example - and I guarantee Kitna's not the only example, either.

Faulk and Bettis are just trying to help out as much as they can. I don't see why Favre won't do the same.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 1:55pm

One of my favorite regular season memories from the '90s is seeing Joe Montana, in a Kansas City Chiefs jersey, out-two minute offense another master of the two minute offense, John Elway, on a Monday night in Denver.

I'd love to see Favre in Miami, if Favre would allow himself to be coached.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 2:00pm

A guy who is willing to be a backup is likely very dedicated to the game. If Favre re-dedicates himself to the game, however, there may only be four or five quarterbacks, if that many, who are clearly better than he is.

It really is an odd situation.

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 2:08pm

Post 19:

Well, the word out of Green Bay is that Rodgers is a stiff. Favre has had numerous backups in the past, and he has made many positive comments about their abilities both then and now. (Brunell, Brooks, Hasselback)

Favre has not commented about Rodgers because, I suspect, he believes in the Golden Rule. If you don't have anything nice to say don't say it at all. (At least with respect to a player's ability. The Javon Walker was another matter completely. Though Favre should have hushed there as well.)

As par for the course, I expect you to not take this input as worth anything because it's conjecture.

I am fairly certain that if Matt Hasselback were still around Favre would not have an issue taking a step back. But he isn't going to let an OBVIOUSLY inferior player play. Favre may have slipped but he's not completely gone.

Again, the basis for the Rodgers assessment is courtesy of my contacts in and around the NFC North. More public information can be found on the Journal-Sentinel Online. Cliff Cristl, long-time Packer beat writer and historian, has less then flattering things to write about Rodgers.

His opinion? The Packers blew it. Rodgers can't play.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 2:23pm

I also suspect that Rodgers is a bust, once again leading me to think that team is better served using two mid-to-late round picks on qb, and then seeing which one pans out better, than using a number one pick for qb. The position is just too hard to project.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 2:57pm

Favre has not commented about Rodgers because, I suspect, he believes in the Golden Rule.

Yah, I had a feeling about this. I've also got a feeling that he doesn't particularly like the current Packers management, which is why he's willing to walk away and let them implode with Rodgers.

Will's right, though. It really is too bad, as Favre in, say, Miami, could easily reach the playoffs again.

by Craig (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 3:01pm

I admit to thinking (cap problems aside) that Oakland might be one of the better fits for Favre at this stage, especially if they improve the line at all or add some TE blocking help regularly.

Decent running back, multiple quality recieving targets, and (in Moss) arguably one of the best possible targets for if he goes into 'throw crazy jump balls down the field' mode.

by WI Troll (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 3:14pm

I've figured that 2005 would be it for Brett a few seasons ago when I forcasted his age. Although after watching him perform, physically, this past season I thought it would be at least one more year of Packer football with him. But, the timing is all off, the Pack are clearly in a rebuilding mode, weather the local media wil admit to it or not. A Super Bowl run isn't in the picture next season, even though if players come back healthy, and a few FA signings fall into place they could easily compete for a playoff spot.

Random thoughts as I trolled through this thread:

Wolf had pretty much appointed Sherman to be the GM. I don't think (team prez) Harlan was going to go against Ron's judgement in that. Also, who's Shermen to say 'no' to that kind of control and ensuing pay?

The guard situation this season was a real drag. Cap issues prevented not only paying Wahle and signing Rivera this year (along with retaining Bubba Franks), but prevented them from signing capable replacements. Much of this can be atributed to some very poor free agent signings and contracts that Sherman had offered in recent years. It was a corousel in the interior this past season, something that even Larry Bightol couldn't coach through. There have been rumblings throughout the year that a 'higher' influence had a say in some of those O-line decisions. That 'higher influence' is no longer with the organization, or any other at this point.

I don't think that Favre was the only one to bring up his retirement off-season after off-season. He just facilitated the talk with responses like "I could see riding my tractor" or "It would be nice to attend my daughter's school functions". Some of his comments were picked up and run as headlines in other market's newspapers.

I agree with NFC Freak's assesment of Aaron Rodgers, I think the Pack did make a bad choice. It's an awfully big mulligan for Ted Thompson to take with his first ever pick, and I think back to Sherman taking Jamal Reynolds in rd 1. But hey, Matt Millen is still in the NFC Central. The more I see and hear about Rodgers, the less I agree with the pick.

I'm having reservations about Jevon Walker returning to the form he displayed in 04-05.

I thought Thompson went out and got his head coach last season when he signed Jim Bates. I had said that since last summer even though the team gave Sherman the extension and peple thought I was nuts that they'd can Sherman after this season. McCarthy is a surprise, and while I agree the hire seemed to have Brett returning in mind, there is an aura of enthusiasm with McCarthy and the new O-cord. that has, for the time beng, given a bit of hope. But, of all the coaching vacencies so far, havn't many been filled with 'fresh blood' head coaches? Hey, McCarthy has 1 or 2 years as a QB coach and offensive duties during the past 4 seasons with the Saints and the 9ers. Based on that - oye. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt - for now.

Brett's head probably isn't in it, who can blame him with all of the changes in GB during the past month? In the end I think we've seen the end of his playing days, what a ride. I still remember raining insults down on #7 back in September 1992 and then asking the back-up to do us a "Fa-vor" and win a game for us (Obvious play on a back-up QB's last name that I didn't know how to pronounce). That was 200-some straight regular season games ago.

Now he can spend the next few off-seasons facilitating un-retirement speculation. :)

I like "the sky is falling" comments above also.

by A. Rodgers (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 3:38pm

Brett, please come back one more year. I do not want to be exposed for the talent-less hack that I am.

by Duane (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 3:53pm

I hope the decision is a corbon copy of last year. He decided to return because he and his wife wanted a season to enjoy, sans the ragedy and distractions of the year before. Didn't quite work out that way, what with Hurricane Katrina and "Me Maw's stroke. I also hope if he does put off retirement that he announces the "Brett Favre Farewell Tour" and laps up as much hegemony as the hegemonists can dish out. I hope during The Tour he attains every meaningful quarterback record. I hope the Packers do indeed rise up to make a strong post-season run, whether all the way to Super Bowl XLI or not. I hope he ends his career as the one and only four-time NFL MVP.

(It could happen.)

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 3:55pm

Oakland would not be good place for Favre, because 1) the coach that Al Davis hires is unlikely to have enough authority (because Davis is psychologically unable to relegate himself to the background) to effectively coach Favre, and 2) the defense needs to be fixed, along with the offensive line. Although Favre would on the surface seem to fit well with a wideout with the nearly unparalleled ball skills of a Randy Moss, I think they would have difficulty playing together, in that they are both too immune to coaching and too prone to free-lancing.

Who knows? My gut feeling, however, is that Favre would only experience a renassaince if he had a coach with unquestioned authority, like Nick Saban, and only if Favre was willing to submit himself to that sort of situation.

by cthoover (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 4:01pm

Re 21

Good point about first round QBs. The real problem there seems to be the guys taken in the bottom half of round one like Losman, Grossman, Bollier or Ramsey. The top half can get you Roethlisberger, Palmer or a Manning also your Harringtons but at least, the top half is truely elite prospects where the second half of the round seems more & more like a losing proposition. You may not end up spending as much on #23 as #3 but it still holds your franchise hostage if he doesn't pan out. I mean, would people be so eager for Favre to leave if Craig Nall was the back up rather than first round pick Arron Rodgers.

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 4:02pm

Post 26:

Folks only began to broach the topic because Favre talked about it ALL THE TIME. He brought this mess on himself and in this area I have little sympathy.

I also think people need to understand that the brains in the Favre family belong to his wife Deanna. Brett Favre, by his own admission, is lazy off of the practice field. And he can't absorb information as quickly as others. I am NOT writing Favre is dumb. But please remember Favre publicly campaigned for Sherman so that Favre wouldn't have to learn a new offense.

THAT was his big selling point for Mike Sherman. Note he didn't say Sherman was the best coach he's ever had or anything comparable to that which one MIGHT expect in that situation.

Brett Favre has listened to TWO coaches in his career. His father Irv and Mike Holmgren. To my knowledge those are the only two men I have ever heard Favre talk about getting in Favre's face about an obviously stupid play.

So the notion of Favre going to another team is highly unlikely if only because by his OWN comments Favre simply isn't equipped to handle a different offense.

And if he DID go somewhere else the coach better be ready to be a hard*ss with the superstar.

Favre didn't like Mike Holmgren but he respected him.

I think Favre liked Sherman but DIDN'T respect him.

And you saw the results on the field. Especially once his dad wasn't around to hold him accountable.

by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 4:57pm

You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.

by Aaron N (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 5:55pm


Your NFC North contacts? What, the waterboy for the Lions said Rodgers can't play?

Give me a break.
No one other than the Packers staff has seen him do anythig meaningful other than the end of the Baltimore game. He may be horrible, but only people who work for the Packers have any idea, not Cliff Freekin Cristl (love him though I do...)or your 'sources'.

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 7:05pm

Good Rump Parliament quote, Charles.

I don't know how you can declare Rodgers a bust before he has started a game. You need three years, minimum, to evaluate a quarterback.

by pcs (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 7:34pm

GB could have avoided the whole debate by hiring Jimmy Johnson to be coach. He'd make Favre's decision for him.

I'd think there's going to be so much pressure on whoever steps in after Favre that it's going to be almost impossible to succeed. That's why I'd give Nall, the loyal backup, his shot. If Nall does well, then great. Give him the job and see what you can get for Rodgers in trade. If Nall turns out to be Jonathan Quinn, then give the job to Rodgers. But I don't know.

by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 10:48pm

That's what I love about FO, Scott. How many other football boards would have posters that recognize that reference?

by NF (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 3:01am


I see Randy Moss and Brett Favre together on a bad team led by a weak coach as the perfect storm for Favre deliberatly trying to put Moss in traction. In other words, it would be the biggest train wreck the NFL has ever seen. Bigger than pre-NYG Vikings. Bigger than the 2005 Detroit Lions. It could very well result in Al Davis trying to fire everyone in management and coaching.

Halfway through the season.

Or not.


Aaron Rodgers was widely predicted to be taken soon after Alex Smith, and it was much publicized how he free-fell through the first round. I think coaches woke up on draft day and realized a good QB prospect coached by Tedford is still a QB coached by Jeff Tedford.

For those who don't know, Jeff Tedford coached at least one out-and-out QB bust (Akili Smith), one QB who is an established journeyman/backup 10 years later (Trent Dilfer), two QBs who are doing badly in offenses with significant talent (Harrington and Boller), and one QB who has played on a horribly coached team with the leagues worse O-line (David Carr). Oh, and all of those QBs played well enough in college for them to be drafted in the first round.

by Barb (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 8:03pm

Favre should NEVER play for any other team than the Green Bay Packers. He should return next year and every year should he decide to. The Packers should be happy to have such a problem. A Hall of Famer QB who wants to play football. He is worth his weight in gold. He most certainly was in great physical shape this year. (I have butt pics from training camp that proves it!)
Aaron Rodgers will not be a Packers QB. They blew it on that pick.