SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Packers and Brett Favre

Coaches say this all the time -- "you have to play the best players." You can't play people because you promised them you would when you signed them (or, in college, recruited them), you can't play people because you like them personally, and you can't play people because you know their family members or even because they're your family members. They'll tell you that unless you've established the premise that the best players will play, your team will break down and not perform for you. Why? The reason is quite simple. If the players know that factors other than on-the-field excellence go into the decision making process as to who plays, they won't go all out in practice for you. The reason -- because they know that going all out in practice just won't make a difference.

So let's go to Green Bay, where you have Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre. Nothing against Rodgers, he's saying all the right things, has a track record of accomplishment in college and looks to be a good prospect. But Brett Favre brought it last year, is one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the history of the game (to be a pain, I'd definitely put Unitas, Montana, Marino, Elway, P. Manning, and Bradshaw before him) and is currently still one of the best quarterbacks in the entire National Football League. While Rodgers has potential and is the quarterback of the future, he hasn't done anything yet.

Sure, the Packers are frustrated and, yes, Favre handled his retirement poorly, or, more charitably, he and the Packers didn't handle the whole thing well together. Yes, the Packers might be miffed that they planned around Favre's retirement (drafting two quarterbacks) only to have those plans backfire. I would think that a good many people outside Green Bay, Wisconsin would be sympathetic to the Packers' management, because few have the patience for those who have trouble making up their minds. That's all well and good. I'm not saying that what's going on in Green Bay is a pleasant situation or an optimal one.

But it's time for the Packers to shed their stubborness, swallow their pride, make amends with Brett Favre, anoint him as the starter and say, "hey, what went on was terrible, no one's happy with it, but we're welcoming back one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game with open arms and we hope to get to the Super Bowl in the winter of 2009."

That's the Packers' best chance of getting to the Super Bowl, period.

Because when you have one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game -- who, importantly, is still playing at a very high level -- you have to play him.

It's that simple.

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