When Brett Favre announced his retirement a year ago, it was such a big deal around the league that the Eagles put head coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg in front of the cameras to recall their fond memories of Favre, whom both Reid and Mornhinweg coached in Green Bay. Favre and his 2008 team, the New York Jets, confirmed on Wednesday that Favre was, indeed, retiring again.
This time, they say, the decision is final.
As everyone views that announcement with skepticism, cynicism, boredom or whatever your feeling, Favre's second go-around at retirement is decidedly un-ceremonious. Favre's career is over and it doesn't seem like a whole lot of people other than Jets fans even care. Packers.com doesn't have as much as a mention of Favre's decision for several hours after the news hit the national headlines.
It is another reminder of the tricky road athletes at the end of the line take. They think they can still perform at the highest level. They still have a lot of the game, and there is no doubt that the glory and the gold of an NFL contract excites them into playing for as many seasons as possible.
Was it worth it for Favre to announce his retirement last March and then drag the Packers through the mud for weeks and weeks, only to force their hand into a trade to the Jets? For the first half of the season, it sure looked like Favre had his magic. But the Jets flopped down the stretch, with Favre leading the way. He was barely fit to be an NFL quarterback in those last five games, four of which were losses.
After a while, the final season of Favre's career with be forgotten, and the proper legacy of his career will be restored. Still, Favre's final season should serve as a lesson to all in the manner it was treated. His "return" to the game was glorified beyond any reasonable level. The extent to which the national media exalted Favre was sickening and misplaced. The disruption Favre caused in the locker rooms of Green Bay and New York helped ruin both teams' seasons. And the rancor his backpedaling on his retirement announcement caused in Green Bay was considerable, and unfortunate.
What does this mean for the Eagles, you ask? Well, probably not much. Hopefully nothing at all. Then again, maybe. The Eagles have some veterans who are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents in a couple of weeks and a few of them -- like offensive tackles Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan, along with safety Brian Dawkins -- are well into their 30s and at an age when teams have to think very seriously about investing a lot into their careers.
When do they say it's time to move on? Wil all three return to the Eagles in 2009? Are Eagles ready to move on if either of those three players is not an Eagle in 2009?
I've long contended that fans cheer for the uniform, no matter the players wearing the uniform. I wonder how difficult it was, though, for Packers fans this season. Was there any sense of loss as Favre played for the Jets? Anger?
It is going to happen to Eagles fans. One of these days, maybe sooner than you think, an Eagle you love more than any other will move on and play, shockingly, in another uniform. What will it be like at that time?
Favre played one season too long. It makes me curious to see if other players saw the same thing and learned from Favre's decision to return to the game he owned for so long, only to go out one year later with less shine on his future Hall of Fame bust.
* NEWS AND NOTES AND THIS AND THAT *
- Just wondering how hot that "Wildcat" formation is going to be in 2009. Given an entire off-season to prepare for it. defensive coaches are going to attack the formation and the philosophy. I think teams are going to have to throw from the formation, at least present that threat, or defenses will tear up and spit out the Wildcat. All of those gimmick offenses are dissected pretty quickly at this level. NFL defenses are too good and too fast to allow "fad" offenses to survive for long.
- No word on anything from the Eagles as far as off-season plans or moves or, well, anything. These next two weeks are going to be painful for me. I am far too antsy to have the off-season plans unfold.
- The Jaguars cut wide receiver Jerry Porter, another example of a bad decision in free agency. Please, please, please don't ask me about Porter in the Discussion Boards. I can't even imagine that the Eagles would be interested. Porter is a talented player who hasn't built on some early-career success. His availability adds to the depth of the wide receivers who are said to be out there in this off-season. The talent pool at that position via trade -- at least if you believe all of those reports -- and free agency, along with the draft, is very, very interesting.
- Just a stat number that jumped out at me comparing 2007 and 2008: The Eagles averaged 4.7 yards per rush in 2007 and just 4.0 yards per attempt in '08. That is a huge drop. Brian Westbrook went from 4.8 yards per carry to 4.0 yards per carry.
- How much better was the defense in 2008 vs. 2007? In 2007, the defense had 37 quarterback sacks, 11 interceptions and zero touchdowns. In 2008, the defense upped those numbers to 48 sacks, 15 interceptions and 5 touchdowns.