The Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers can’t totally escape Brett Favre, three years and a Super Bowl appearance after trading him to the Jets.
Favre fatigue notwithstanding, this is a logical time for the Packers brain trust to look back at the decision that helped shape their franchise and set it up for lasting success.
“It was very difficult for the organization,” Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy said this week. “You don’t have many players that have that kind of impact on an organization that Brett did. It tested us.”
The decision said everything you needed to know about Packers G.M. Ted Thompson. In a column for NBCSports.com, I wrote that his steadfast nature touches the entire Packers organization. The Favre decision more than any other defines him.
“I think we all knew that we were at a moment in history, that this doesn’t happen often,” Murphy said. “Nobody wants to be known as the one that traded Brett Favre away, but we all had the confidence in Aaron.”
Thompson was typically less reflective.
“There’s a lot of difficulties you go through in this job and that was one of them,” he said.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy and Rodgers have been gracious, although not overly forthcoming when asked about their past with Favre. Thompson said Favre would eventually be re-embraced in Green Bay, and noted that Rodgers sitting behind Favre for three years was a positive.
We’ve heard that this Super Bowl appearance somehow validates Thompson’s decision, but that’s ridiculous.
Thompson was right even when the Packers didn’t immediately win games with Rodgers as a starter. He was right in October of 2008, when he handed Rodgers a contract extension that now looks like a bargain. He was even right in 2009, when Favre nearly reached the Super Bowl as a member of the hated Vikings.
First-round quarterbacks make or break personnel men. If we are going to kill general managers for taking Ryan Leaf or Akili Smith, we should reward for being right when they make an unpopular decision. Thompson was so right.
Thompson had the patience to let Rodgers develop, the foresight to see Favre’s drama on the horizon, and the football smarts to find the right coach to develop his new franchise quarterback.