Why is it no surprise that Brett Favre signed with the Vikings?
The bigger news is that this surprises anyone. Having lived through Brett’s long bouts of indecisiveness for many years, I know that this is predictable behavior from someone who’s a good guy but troubled by having to make decisions without a clear, apparent choice. He would much rather have someone else, through his or her actions or words, make the decision for him.
On June 20, 2008, Favre had “the conversation” with Packers coach Mike McCarthy. Brett expressed his desire to get his helmet back from the Packers, a conversation that the Packers certainly should have expected. That’s when McCarthy said those three poignant words: “We’ve moved on.” That stung Brett and continues to resonate more than a year later.
Through all the drama about Brett over the past several years, I have never felt any sense of closure from him about playing football. He retired a year ago because he wanted the Packers to court, woo and recruit him to play another year, as they had in the past. But he didn’t get that affection from the team he felt he had put into the national consciousness. Brett wanted the Packers to make the decision on his return last year so that he wouldn’t have to. As it turned out, they did (it’s no coincidence that Brett retired on the day Randy Moss returned to the Patriots after another brief dalliance with the Packers in free agency).
I always felt Brett wanted to do in football what Roger Clemens was able to do in baseball: join a team early in the season, bypass the minutiae of training camp and the offseason and just play the games. Now he’s able to do that – sort of.
Why is there also no surprise as to the team signing Favre?
The Vikings have placed an added value on players and coaches associated with Green Bay. Brad Childress strategically used the fact he was about to interview with the Packers to secure a contract with the Vikings before boarding a plane to Green Bay. The Vikings paid premiums for players such as Darren Sharper and Ryan Longwell and chased other Packers players such as William Henderson, Craig Nall and Aaron Kampman. They even took a coaches’ assistant away from Green Bay. Now they’ve landed the biggest fish that ever swam in the Green Bay waters, albeit a year removed from being a Packer.
Brett wanted to play for the Vikings last year, and there was mutual interest. That, thanks to the Packers controlling his rights, was not an option. The Vikings left the light on for him for over a year and he finally accepted their long-standing invitation. The early financial returns on his signing validate their decision from a financial point of view.
Darrell Bevell was the quarterbacks coach in Green Bay from 2003-2005. Interestingly, Brett took a while to warm up to Bevell – Darrell had to earn Brett’s respect as a young coach with little experience, and Brett had a hard time listening to him. They eventually developed a relationship, which is the genesis of this marriage.
Why is the contract he signed déjà vu all over again?
When I negotiated Brett’s 10-year, $100-million contract with his agent, Bus Cook, for the Packers in 2001, Bus and I felt that we would be lucky to get three years out of that contract. It actually lasted until a couple of months ago when the Jets terminated the contract in order to allow Brett, for the first time in his career, to exercise his rights as a free agent.
The amounts for years eight and nine of that contract, which would have been 2008 and 2009, were $12M and $13M, respectively. Brett will make those exact amounts in a two-year, $25-million contract he signed with the Vikings. As to this year, that amount essentially became guaranteed when Brett walked on the practice field Tuesday as he will be paid his salary were an injury to occur. As for next year, well, we’ll certainly wait out his decision again in a few months, an annual rite of spring for those who follow the NFL.
Why does Brett have the Wally Pipp syndrome?
Brett has an insecurity about him that is not logical for one of the most established players in the game. He knew how he got his job – Don Majkowski was injured – and how he could lose it in the blink of an eye. Thus, his relationships with rising young backup quarterbacks were always at arm’s length. I saw this from afar in representing Matt Hasselbeck 10 years ago and up close in watching him and Aaron Rodgers for three seasons.
The bottom line is that he wants to continue to play, and unlike other “retired” players such as Edgerrin James, Deuce McAllister and Marvin Harrison, he had a suitor that wanted him to unretire. The fact that the suitor is a rival of the team that didn’t hold his seat while he excused himself for a couple months certainly adds to the continuing miniseries.
Brett is back, although he never really left.
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