The Vindication of Thompson & McCarthy

So I was wrong. Again.

Slightly less than two months ago (on this very site), I wrote off my beloved Green Bay Packers after an inexplicable loss to the execrable Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Since then, the Pack has been quite arguably the best team in the National Football League posting six victories against one last-play-of-the-game loss to last year’s World Champions. Yesterday, with a game remaining on the regular schedule, Green Bay clinched a playoff berth.

Many commentators (including this one) had argued that Green Bay VP Ted Thompson and Coach Mike McCarthy were mistaken in trading Brett Favre last year. In early November, with Favre leading the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC North lead and the Packers languishing in mediocrity, it appeared that 2008’s gamble on young quarterback Aaron Rodgers had backfired. Now…not so much. Yesterday, in addition to clinching a playoff spot, young Mr. Rodgers became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for more than 4,000 yards in each of his first two seasons as a starter. The kid is a legitimate superstar.

Meanwhile Brett Favre was last seen arguing with his coach on the sidelines and the Vikings have lost two of their last three games. Stay tuned. Green Bay fans could be in for a very special post-season.

Buck Me Frettly

OK . I admit it. The Green Bay Packers made a grave mistake in not welcoming their grand diva Brett Favre back on whatever terms he wanted in August 2008. True confession time – I’ve been a Packer fan since I was a boy. In that point of a previous millennium, ‘The Pack’, under legendary coach Vince Lombardi was defeating the likes of the New York Giants for NFL championships. Last summmer I agreed with Packer management who did not guarantee Favre his starter’s job after a bizarrre five month on-off-on-and off again dalliance with retirement.

Yesterday, Favre sliced and diced his former team on its own turf, Lambeau Field. Combine yesterday’s performance with a game in Minnesota last month and Favre hurled seven touchdown passes in two Viking victories over the Packers. OUCH!!

The Packers’ choice to lead their team, Aaron Rodgers played another terribly   inconsistent, sometimes flashy, but ultimately losing game.  Rodgers, as if haunted by Favre interceptions of the past, repeatedly held on to the ball too long allowing the Vikings to sack him. The fourty year old Favre meanwhile gamboled about like a teenager while showing arm strength and accuracy easily the match of his glory years with the Packers. Burnt out? Finished? Prone to giveaways? Uh…not so much.

The Vikings just may win the NFC championship and head to the Super Bowl under a rejuvenated Favre. Packer GM Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy were one game from The Big Show with Favre as QB in the 2007 season. If Favre was still their starter today, they would have a stronger team. The moral of this story appears to be that sometimes superstars, even when they behave erratically, must be indulged.