Favre’s Comeback: Why Should We Care?

Ah, Brett Favre. After yet another off-season of his wishy-washy attitude towards both the game of football and retirement, we get to see #4 back on the field, this time in the Vikings’ purple and gold. His “comeback” has, once again, been the driving force behind nearly all of ESPN’s football coverage over the last four months, getting to that point where even SportsCenter’s anchors say, “this…again?”

Favre’s arrival at camp in Minnesota was greeted, like last year in East Rutherford, with a lot of fanfare from the media, but an admittedly lukewarm reception from his new teammates. I fully understand his teammates’ reaction – with quotes from Favre like, “I think [my return is] great for football. I can’t see how you wouldn’t think it would be.”–it might actually be difficult to like the guy. Overall, I think the Vikings’ players were simply sick of hearing about Favre, and rightfully so.

While any objective observer will admit that Favre was one of the greatest quarterbacks of his time, that same observer should also note that Favre’s time is past. Hearing about how a 40-year old quarterback is going to come in and be the “savior” of a team that won the NFC North last year, well, that has to be aggravating for the players who were already there.

Here, we have to look at the actual importance of Favre’s arrival in Minnesota. Sure, he’s an improvement over Sage Rosenfels, but so is the third-stringer from your high school. The Vikings are, and will continue to be, a running-based offense, so long as they have Adrian Peterson in the backfield. I sincerely doubt that Brad Childress is going to change his offense at all, so he can have the quarterback who threw 22 interceptions last year (leading the NFL) throw to guys like Bernard Berrian and Sidney Rice, no offense to either of them.

In 2007, fans and media alike heralded the resurgence of Favre, as he led Green Bay to a 13-3 record, throwing 28 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. But, given that we are not watching late 90’s-early 00’s baseball, that year can be classified as a complete fluke.

In the past four seasons, dating back to 2005, Favre has had just that 2007 season where he threw more touchdowns than interceptions. The talking heads who engage in severe forms of revisionist history will chalk this up to Favre being a “gunslinger,” and that this TD-INT ratio is not an issue. Until 2005, however, Favre had one season out of 13 where he threw for fewer touchdowns than interceptions. The numbers on Favre’s career suggest, as is typical for a player of his age, a downward slope that is only likely to accelerate as he ages. Perhaps, with the Vikings’ style of offense, Favre will be better rested, not counted on to make the types of throws he has been asked to in the past. But to expect much of him, and to ask him to do anything close to what the media hype surrounding him would suggest he should, is absolutely absurd.

Favre’s continuation of his NFL career will certainly provide storylines for fans to follow this season, most notably on November 1, when the Vikings head to Lambeau Field. But as for on-field performance, not much should be expected.

So, should we care about Favre playing in 2009? To some extent, if only because it will add off-field drama to the sometimes long NFL season. But should we follow his every action and treat him like the second coming? That would be a disrespect to the Vikings, and to the players better than him throughout the league, of whom there are many.