Brett Favre was asked about Deshaun Watson’s situation with the Texans, and didn’t pass up the opportunity to take a thinly veiled shot at the quarterback.
“I’m kind of old school,” Favre told Yahoo! Sports. “I think you play. You get paid a ton of money to do a certain job and just do it and let the chips fall where they may. I think we make too much money to voice an opinion, but I’m not saying he’s wrong. Again, I think it’s a different day and time, and it will be interesting to see how the organization handles it.”
In a carefully crafted fence-sitting answer full of context, Favre’s basic concept is that NFL players make too much money to have opinions about the direction of their career. He also threw in a not-so-subtle opportunity to play up the tired trope of young players being “entitled,” by saying “it’s a different day and time,” as if he’s shrugging his shoulders and saying “kids these days.”
Let’s make something abundantly clear here: Watson has handled this unmitigated disaster with more poise, honesty and respect than Favre ever showed the Packers during the tail end of his career in Green Bay.
Favre clearly know how to keep his mouth shut, especially after being indicted in a welfare embezzlement scheme in Mississippi that paid the former quarterback for speeches he never gave. After being caught Favre paid the money back to the state, claiming he didn’t know where the money came from. Being paid $1.1 million for doing nothing is clearly a normal thing that happens, so it’s understandable.
In any event, let’s just compare how Watson and Favre handled their respective situations in the tail end of the career of the teams where they became icons.
Deshaun Watson wanted to have a voice at the table after seeing the Texans get run into the ground. Bill O’Brien took his weapons away, team president Cal McNair was struggling to design a path for the team moving forward, and Watson had some ideas on coaches he believed would help. Instead of listening to Watson, management doubled-down on its ego, not only hiring a coach Watson didn’t have on his preferred list — but not even interviewing the people Watson recommended. It’s one thing if the quarterback was upset they didn’t hire the coach he wanted, but another entirely to not even give him the respect to talk to the people he thought would help the team.
Pair all this with bizarre front office decisions by Jack Easterby, viewed as a catalyst for the Texans’ collapse, and finally Watson had enough. Rather than a huge public statement he privately requested a trade, and is considering sitting out the season if he’s not granted his request. So, just to put all this in clear terms: Watson is making his feelings known up front, and giving Houston a chance to respond, and ample time to work a trade so both sides could move forward.
Now, let’s talk about the end to Favre’s time in Green Bay. Obviously he was a Packers legend, but Favre began to get a chip on his shoulder when the team drafted Aaron Rodgers to be his eventual replacement. There was no imminent decision to move on, and the Packers didn’t put a time frame on moving on from Favre, but still, No. 4 took exception to the whole thing.
From this point on he decided that instead of addressing his concerns with the team directly, he would take a passive aggressive route of holding the team hostage with the possibility of retirement to such an extent that made it impossible for the team to organize around the salary cap.
Discussion of Favre’s possible retirement began in the closing weeks of 2006. This became more prominent when Favre gave a tearful interview where he said he wasn’t sure about his future. Most people took this as a sign he might retire. Behind closed doors Favre kept giving the team unclear answers. The team pressured him into answering, and in March Favre said he was “fully committed to the Packers.”
To his credit, Favre had one of the best seasons of his career in 2007. Then things got awkward. On March 4, 2008 Favre held a press conference and officially announced his retirement. The Packers moved forward under the impression that Favre was done, because he said as much, then in July rumors swirled that he wanted to return, just a few months after retiring.
Favre sent the Packers a letter asking for his unconditional release. If Green Bat cut Favre outright they would have taken a cap hit the team couldn’t justify, so they declined. After a month of back-and-forth the team traded Favre to the Jets. His career in Green Bay done.
The point here is that Favre is criticizing Watson’s actions for him being straightforward and honest about his frustration and desire to move on, when it’s undeniable that what Favre did to the Packers was worse. He not only stopped the team from being able to prepare with two years of him insinuating his retirement, then taking it back — delaying the start to Rodgers’ career in the process.
It would have been okay if Favre mirrored what he did with Green Bay and simple gave a non-answer when asked about Watson, or say he didn’t know. Instead he reached for a tired cliche about how much athletes are paid, and insinuated of they should fall in line. Favre should have kept his mouth shut, or at least remember how much he screwed the Packers around for no reason.