Brett back into open arms
Note: I was scheduled to write Part II of my look inside the Darrelle Revis-New York Jets negotiations and will do so later in the week, with information on the offers made and rejected. For now, though, a comment on the return of you-know-who.
It was certainly interesting watching The Arrival, Part II yesterday as the private plane carrying one Brett Favre landed in Minnesota with transfer to Ryan Longwell’s SUV. I texted Ryan to tell him that he became the new Al Cowlings with his drive from the airport to the facility on national display from helicopter cameras. He drove better than Cowlings, I thought.
Of course he’s playing
Yes, Brett’s playing. Of course he’s playing. There’s no downside for him to play. Let’s look at this: he just spent seven months at home on vacation, he walks into a ready-made contending team, and he’ll receive more than $13 million (more on that below) for his seasonal work. What’s not to like?
As readers of this space know, I have always thought Brett would play. I heard retirement rumors soon after joining the Packers in 1999 and have heard them ever since. I thought he would play after tearful goodbyes at the end of each season. I thought he would play when he took months to decide in the long and cold offseasons waiting for an answer in Green Bay. I thought he would play when he retired from the Packers in 2008. And I thought he would play ever since.
Brett loves the game. He does not love the tedium surrounding the game, much of it in the offseason and preseason. And conveniently, he gets to skip all that and show up when it’s time to play. It’s a great gig if you can get it.
And maybe that’s the key here. The story of Brett playing in 2009 and 2010 is less about Brett than it is about the Minnesota Vikings. Whereas Brett retired from the Packers in 2008 because he found the silent indifference from the team to be a message, he has been wooed, welcomed and embraced by the Vikings in ways that he never felt with the present regime in Green Bay.
Yes, the rules are different for Brett in Minnesota than they are for other players. Why does Brett ignore the offseason program while his teammates work hard at the facility and then show up sometime in the preseason? Because he can. The Vikings – from ownership to coaches to players -- have held the door open as long as there has been a possibility that Brett will walk through. And he now has.
Brett signed a two-year deal last year for salaries of $12 and $13 million dollars, respectively. Ironically, those were the exact amounts in the ten-year contract I negotiated back in 2001 for years 8 and 9 (year 10 was $14 million). Although the amounts were not technically “guaranteed”, they became guaranteed the moment Brett stepped off the plane each year as he would be paid if injured and of course, would not be released.
The Vikings have now sweetened the contract by adding another $3.5 million, making his guaranteed amount $16.5 million, a little more than $1 million per game. There are also incentives tied to the NFC Championship and the Super Bowl that could potentially push his one-year earnings to $20 million.
I am told by sources on both sides of the negotiation, however, that Brett did not insist on making more and that did not drive the decision at all. That tells me that if Brett did push it, he could make that $20 million prior to incentives.
Playing with house money?
The thing I worry about with Brett and the end of his career is injury. Not that anyone should worry about that with him, as he is a freak of nature. When we looked at his knee after a LCL sprain one year, his joints were as pristine as a teenager. My worry is that he has been beating the odds for so long that the house will eventually win. The injury rate in the NFL is 99%, meaning basically everyone in the league except Brett gets hurt. I hope he can stay that way.
As we all thought and expected, Brett is back with the Vikings, a beneficiary of star treatment for a team that felt it needed him more than he needed it. We can get back to our lives, nothing more to see here. Until, of course, October 24 at Lambeau Field.
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