I am a huge Cliff Christl fan. Heck, his retirement from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is what prompted me to start blogging about the Packers. (I figured the net could use a young cantankerous curmudgeon to replace an old cantankerous curmudgeon.) That said, I have to disagree with him completely in regards to his special column on the Brett Favre situation over at NFL.com.
Comparing the Packers behavior in regards to Favre's request to be released from his contract and the organizations behavior when Reggie White and William Henderson had reached the end of their respective relationships with the Packers, Christl writes:
When White decided he wanted to play again in 2000, the Packers willingly released him from his contract. When 12-year veteran William Henderson had the itch to play again last year after being told he no longer fit in the Packers' plans, Thompson released him, announcing that he was doing so to give Henderson a chance to "pursue other opportunities" with no strings attached.
I'm sorry, but the comparison is absurd. It is one thing to give an outright release to a player who is washed up. It is quite another thing to let a player go who can still play the game at a high level. It is Thompson's job to be sure he gets something of value for Favre, if he does indeed end up playing in another uniform. To do otherwise would be not only negligent, but a display of downright incompetence on Thompson's part.
Christl addresses this somewhat with the following:
If Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy truly believe the Packers are a better team with Rodgers at quarterback, they should have the courage of their convictions. If they have as much confidence in Rodgers and their team as they say they do, they shouldn't fear facing Favre in another uniform.
The Packers could have defused this controversy and made this a much less messy divorce if they had given Favre his release soon after he asked for it. Had they exercised the kind of PR savvy that marked the Harlan administration, they would have released Favre and simply announced that they were doing so only to honor his request.
Now that we've visited La-La Land, let's all come back down to Earth. It's great to be cozied up with your laptop and to write something with such bravado, but when you're making franchise-defining decisions at 1265 Lombardi Avenue, things are just a wee bit different. Again, it would be incompetence to the Nth degree on Thompson's part to let Favre play for any other NFL team without getting something in return.
Having said all of the preceding - it is a fantastic piece and well worth your time for the unique historical perspective Christl's long history covering the Packers brings to his view on the current situation, however misguided it may be.
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