Twitter is a great tool for getting news quickly and straight from the source. But when the biggest story happens, Twitter blows up with news, rumors, and a contest to see who can have the funniest or cruelest 140-character comment. Today, Twitter had one of those blow-ups when news came out that Brett Favre was going to retire.
Favre is the king of separation anxiety when it comes to retirement – which is why we call him Spanx – and this is at least his third retirement announcement. And that boxer-like retirement roulette is why today’s news has been taken with a grain of salt. Sure, Favre may believe today that he’s going to retire. But will he believe it in three weeks, when the season is just around the corner? Nobody believes Favre completely because Favre’s emotional statement on August 3 won’t necessarily be true on September 3. In the past, he has given definitive statements and then changed his mind. None of us can say that won’t happen in this case yet again.
So we wouldn’t bet against another Spanx turnaround. But for today, let’s analyze what happens to the Vikings if Favre actually does what he says he’s going to do. It’s not good news. Favre played shockingly well last year, throwing 33 touchdowns with just seven interceptions, and that was what turned the Vikings into a 12-win team instead of a nine- or 10-win squad. The Vikings have a great defensive line, good linebackers, and a decent secondary, and they have a good offensive line and running game and very good receivers. They will be contenders if they get average quarterback play, and if the QB is above-average (like Favre was last year), they become contenders for the Super Bowl.
But it’s uncertain at best if Tarvaris Jackson can be that kind of quarterback. We like Tarvaris, who showed in the final four games of the 2008 season that he is capable of performing well in the NFL. Of course, Tarvaris had a horrible turnover in that year’s playoffs that cost the Vikings a home playoff game vs. the Eagles. And it’s entirely possible that the yo-yo routine the Vikes have inflicted on TJax have killed his confidence. But there is potential there, and Jackson is still good enough to get Minnesota into the playoffs.
On the other hand, without Favre the Super Bowl becomes a major longshot for Minnesota. He is the team’s upside, and without him the Vikes fall into the realm of borderline playoff teams instead of Super Bowl contenders. That’s a shame, because the Vikes have done such a good job of building their roster toward contendership. But Favre’s indecisiveness and late retirement scuttle the Vikings’ ship. That’s the reason that Green Bay gave up on Favre, and although it cost them in the short term, Aaron Rodgers’ ascendance makes the move look wise. Green Bay knows what it has, and right now the Vikings are scrambling for answers in August. That’s the Spanx effect.
That doesn’t mean the Favre gamble wasn’t worth it for Minnesota. No way the Vikings would have made the NFC title game last year without Favre. But now the Vikings are seeing the downside of the Favre gamble. And the worst thing is, the uncertainty still lingers. Will Favre change his mind and try to come back later this month? Before the Vikings Week 4 bye? This firestorm is going to linger.
So no matter what you think of Favre, know this – this story is far from over. And Spanx wouldn’t – or perhaps can’t – have it any other way.