Snap Judgments: Don't expect Favre to play for anyone this year
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight as the first week of my NFL training camp tour winds to a close after stops at the Redskins, Ravens, Patriots, Giants and now Bills ...
As the days have continued to click by in the never-ending Brett Favre un-retirement saga, I've been getting the increasingly stronger hunch that the eventual outcome is going to be that Favre plays for no one in 2008. As in, stays retired. As in, never mind. As in, the mother of all much ado about nothings when everything is said and done. Thanks for coming, and keep in touch.
Obviously the situation is about as fluid as they come -- and that's just in Favre's still indecisive mind -- but unless the Jets or Bucs convince him to accept a trade by making a passionate case for why they're a great fit for the ex-Packer, I don't think he's going to be able to talk himself into taking the plunge in either New York or Tampa Bay.
Reading between the lines, I think two things are pretty clear by now: First, Favre completely underestimated the blowback to his belated attempt to walk into the Packers' 2008 plans at virtually the last minute, without the benefit of attending even one offseason workout. He had no idea that anyone would challenge his right to re-claim the throne in Green Bay, and he's shocked and hurt by the reaction to his attempted restoration.
Which leads into my second observation about Favre's messy situation: He got here because he seems incapable of thinking anything out longer than 15 minutes into the future. As one NFL defensive coordinator told me this week: "He's not a guy who's ever been very reflective. He just reacts to what's in front of him. That's exactly the way he played quarterback, and that's how he's handling this. He makes it all up as he goes. Watching this story unfold is like watching him play. It's that same free-wheeling nature that he played with. He just thinks he'll figure it out on the fly, like always.''
But I have my doubts that there's any way Favre is going under-hand shovel pass his way out of this conundrum. He wants to play. But the Packers aren't going to let him play it completely his way, as he's always done in the past. And my growing sense is that Favre won't end up playing at all.
Earlier last week, the Ravens surfaced as one potential landing spot for Favre, but by the time that info had been reported, it was already out of date. Yes, Green Bay called Baltimore to inquire about trading for Favre, and yes, Ravens officials kicked the idea around for a brief time before deciding that they weren't the right fit for No. 4. According to Ravens sources, here were their top reasons why:
-- Baltimore is extremely excited about the future of first-round quarterback Joe Flacco and had no desire to put his development on hold for a year or two in order to take a shot at winning now with Favre.
-- After years of cultivating something of a star system in their locker room -- in part due to their own acumen and success in the draft -- the Ravens are trying to get away from such a mentality under new head coach John Harbaugh. Favre is the ultimate NFL star of his era, so acquiring him wouldn't represent progress on that front.
-- Baltimore rightfully viewed Favre, 38, as a short-term band-aid at their troubled quarterback spot. The Ravens just went that route with Steve McNair, getting one good year, and one injury-filled bad year from him before he retired. To a large extent, it would have been Groundhog Day with Favre in purple.
-- Then there was the salary cap factor. The Ravens weren't able to strike a long-term deal with the franchised Terrell Suggs before camp opened, and they still have both Ray Lewis and Bart Scott in the final year of their contracts, with the potential of big paydays just ahead. Making room for Favre just didn't make dollars and sense.
I had a brief but interesting conversation with Giants head coach Tom Coughlin in Albany on Saturday, and at least a couple nuggets are worth passing on. I asked him if he did anything special this offseason to help prepare his team for the rigors of defending a Super Bowl championship, in the way of talking to those coaches who have gone through it before to see what works and what doesn't?
"I didn't talk to other Super Bowl champions, but I talked to John Wooden and I talked to Joe Torre about coming off one world title and then being confronted with all the questions about trying to win another,'' Coughlin said. "Both gentlemen were very nice to speak at great length about it. But what they were really saying was that what happened yesterday doesn't matter today unless you pay the price again. That's the message to our guys. We've got to earn it again.''
Coughlin also told me that while he knows he just completed the greatest offseason of his career, at some point the constant wave of congratulations he received extended well past what he needed in order to gear up for the 2008 season.
"What happens is, you get to a point and all of a sudden the competitive juices start flowing and you start thinking about next year, next year, next year,'' Coughlin said. "Somebody kind of comes up and pats you on the back and you kind of get a little ticked off. I'm doing that a little bit in camp here. I'm saying 'Slow down,' because these people here are so nice and they're trying to still be congratulatory. But my mind is somewhere else. It's on this year.''
I think Coughlin gets it. There won't be a victory lap mentality in the Meadowlands this year. And that should serve his Giants quite well in this title defense season.