Brett Favre has waded into the court of public opinion again — whether or not he intended to.
And he may have stepped in it … unless he didn’t. It probably depends on whether he was genuinely complimenting his Packers successor, Super Bowl XLV MVP Aaron Rodgers, which Favre may well have been doing … unless he wasn’t.
While granting a radio interview on Atlanta’s 790 The Zone, Favre was asked if he was surprised that Rodgers had already won a Super Bowl — which matches the number Favre won in his 16-year tenure with the Pack — even though this is only Rodgers’ fourth year as the starting quarterback.
“I’m going to be honest, I was not surprised,” answered Favre. “The biggest surprise to me would be that he didn’t do it sooner.
“My last year in Green Bay, prior to the first game, I made the remark that this was probably the most talented team that I’ve ever played on. And of course everyone looked up and was like, ‘this guy’s off his rocker.’ We were very, very young; take me out of the mix and we were by far the youngest team in the league. But I could see the talent pool across the board was outstanding. Now our season kind of ended up being a reflection of that.”
The Packers went 13-3 that year (2007), thanks largely to inspired play by Favre, and won the NFC North. They ultimately advanced to the NFC Championship Game and lost to the Giants after Favre’s fateful overtime INT, his final pass as a Packer as it turned out, set up New York’s game-winning FG.
“We came close, and I think we took a lot of people by surprise,” Favre continued. “But guys emerged rather quickly. Aaron had a chance … even though the last couple years it’s seemed like he’s almost a rookie, he’s been around awhile. And I’d like to think that he watched, he learned, and then when he got a chance to play, he brought in his ability — which is obviously very good or they wouldn’t have drafted him in the first round.”
Rodgers has admitted that his relationship with Favre was frosty after he joined the team in 2005 as a Round 1 talent. Favre said at the time that mentoring the rookie wasn’t a big priority for him. However both have said the relationship improved until Favre was traded to the Jets in the summer of 2008.
Favre talked more about Rodgers in the interview, but walked a fine line between praising him and saying he’s the beneficiary of the star players around him.
“He’s got tremendous talent, he’s very bright and he got a chance to watch and see successful teams do it right,” Favre said of his former understudy. “And so he just kind of fell into a good situation. On top of that, he’s a good player. I don’t think there’s any pressure on him now, the talent around him is even better than when I was there.
“So I’m really kind of surprised it took him so long. In the early part of last year season, it hadn’t quite clicked yet, and I didn’t know it would. I just kind of figured when they hit their stride, they’re going to be hard to beat. And that’s what happened.”
As for the retirement he took so many years to commit to, Favre said he was enjoying it. He misses playing on Sundays and the camaraderie with his teammates but is glad to be free of the stress of the NFL and the weekly grind of preparing for the next opponent.
And as to whether he made a mistake playing that final ill-fated season with the Vikings in 2010, the worst of his career statistically and one rife with injuries that snapped his historic iron man string of starts?
“I won’t lie to you,” Favre said, “but there has been times once that season started — numerous times — that I thought I shouldn’t have played, this was a mistake. But then after the season was over, and maybe even before — I think the last couple of games which I didn’t play in, and it’d been years since I hadn’t played and watched from the sidelines, better yet in street clothes, that was the first time I’d ever done that — but it gave me a chance to really reflect and look around. There was no pressure to perform. I was just kind of watching.
“So I had a chance to really think and think in depth. And to be honest with you, I didn’t regret coming back at that point. … I can only assume that had I not gone back as we’re sitting here today, I, maybe you, maybe other people would wonder, what if I had gone back? Would the team have been different? I don’t know how they would have ended up. They may have been the same without me, maybe a little better, maybe a little worse. I don’t know. But there’s the problem. We don’t know.
“So if I needed an exclamation point on my career, two years ago would have been a great time to walk away. I don’t think anyone wouldn’t have been able to say ‘Hey, the guy’s got something left in his tank, he probably could have played another year.’ Well, you know, we know now.”
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