Brett's Severance Pay: an analysis

Reports surfaced today, first from Alex Marvez of Fox Sports, that Brett Favre had officially filed his retirement papers with the NFL.

Brett filed retirement papers after his year with the Jets in 2008, only to have the Jets release him from the reserve/retired list in April of 2009 to pursue his goal of joining the Vikings. This time appears to be much more final, although those are hard words to say in speaking of Favre and retirement.

Timing peculiar

I found the timing curious as Brett is now out of contract, scheduled to be a free agent in 2011. Thus, there is no team to “retire from,” as his days with the Vikings are coming to an end contractually.

A couple reasons come to mind: first, to try to show some certainty – perhaps to himself, perhaps to the rest of the world – that he is serious about retiring this time.

The other reason is to start the clock on the NFL Severance Pay Plan. However, due to recent changes made in the Plan reflecting changes in IRS regulations, players are no longer required to submit letters to the NFL, the NFLPA and their NFL club informing them of their official retirement to collect Severance Pay.

Severance pay is now paid automatically to any eligible player twelve months following separation from the NFL. And – cue the cynicism – a player can now qualify for another severance pay check after returning to football following his severance.

20-year amount

And what will Brett’s Severance Pay Plan amount be? The amounts have changed over the years, and Brett played 20 years through four changes to the amounts. Let’s look at it year by year:

1991 5,000
1992 5,000
1993 10,000
1994 10,000
1995 10,000
1996 10,000
1997 10,000
1998 10,000
1999 10,000
2000 12,500
2001 12,500
2002 12,500
2003 12,500
2004 12,500
2005 12,500
2006 12,500
2007 12,500
2008 12,500
2009 15,000
2010 15,000

The total amount for the Severance Pay Plan for Brett, thus, is $222,500.

For a player who made more than $98 million in his career from the Packers along and more than $1 million per game this season with the Vikings, it doesn’t sound like a lot. Having said that, it’s about as big as a severance pay check from the NFL that a player will get, as very few players put in two decades of service.

Quiet ending

Brett was a true icon with the Packers before his difficult parting, perhaps the most popular athlete not only in Wisconsin but also in all of sports. That star has faded, perhaps more than it should. His retirement is a blip on the radar today, buried among the headlines of championship games, one featuring the Bears and Packers, a rivalry that he headlined for many years.

Three years ago, Brett retired to adulation, tears and genuflecting from the public and the media. With today’s news of official filing of his retirement papers with the league, he retires to derision, mockery and ridicule.

Although his star has fallen in great part to his own actions, as I have said often: Brett was not as angelic as he was made out to be in his time in Green Bay nor as demonic as he has been made out to be lately. As with everything, the truth lies somewhere in between.

Follow me on Twitter at adbrandt.

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