Favre saga: Winners and losers

So for the third time in the last 16 months, quarterback Brett Favre — who should own his own addendum to the NFL record book — is saying goodbye.

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As opposed to his other two retirements, the latest may not be “official” with all the cameras and microphones that come with it, but it may be the most believable. For Favre to walk away from what appeared to be his perfect and long-desired fit in Minnesota makes this go-’round seem like the final chapter of his storied career.

NOTE: Yes, Favre very well could simply decide to wait out training camp to see which quarterbacks get injured during training camp … And he will surely keep his cell phone charged in case a desperate team calls during the season … And don’t count out the chance he will feel refreshed next offseason, a full year removed from shoulder surgery and weekly beatings … Just go with us on this.

But as with Favre’s other abbreviated timeouts, he has left plenty of people teased and confused. In the wreckage of what many hope will be his final walk-away, here are the winners and losers:

Winners

Packer fans: How loud is the laughter emanating out of the state of Wisconsin? For the loyal Packers faithful who remained disgusted with this offseason’s Favre flirtation with their most hated rivals in Minnesota, July 28, 2009 could be marked on Cheesehead calendars forever — the Day Brett Favre Jilted the Vikings.

The only thing more noticeable than the giggles is the collective sigh of relief in the area. Green Bay fans everywhere had spent the previous few months mentally preparing, numbing and bracing themselves for the nightmare, DEFCON 1 scenario — good ol’ No. 4 bouncing out of the tunnel at Lambeau Field … in enemy purple.

While the fannies have been able to detach themselves from Favre a bit after last year’s Summer of Favre drama, every Hattiesburg update was painfully peeling back each layer of scar tissue from Packers fans’ emotional wounds. It’s one thing to come back, but to the Vikings, of all teams? And you could just see the ultimate doomsday scenario developing: Favre actually stays healthy in Minnesota behind a mammoth offensive line, handing off to the amazing Adrian Peterson 20-25 times per game and tossing play-action bombs to speedsters Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin … all the way to the Super Bowl, right?

Knowing the Green Bay area, there are a few cold ones being poured right now and local businesses may not open up for the rest of the week.

Favre’s Packers legacy: Arguably the most accomplished passer in NFL history, Favre was the Packers — almost a sports messiah sent to Green Bay in 1992 after decades of doldrums. After winning a Super Bowl and three MVP awards and putting Green Bay back on the football map, Favre had reached Teflon status in the pigskin-loving community.

That is, until his annual retirement song-and-dance began as early as 2005, when the yearly offseason question would cloud the team’s future and stunt winter plans and acquisitions. Then last summer, the first real signs of his minions turning on him appeared around Lambeau as fans began voicing their displeasure around town while at first cautiously rallying around new franchise passer Aaron Rodgers.

The very real acrimony between Favre and the current Packers front office duo of general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy deflated Favre’s one-time untouchable status in the state. Plenty of Packer fans exhaled in a big way as a banged-up Favre faded down the stretch with the Jets in ’08.

But all those ugly feelings can be brushed aside in time. His Hall of Fame-worthy career should be remembered for his 16 seasons in Green Bay, not his last year with the Jets (or his first with the Falcons, for that matter).

Chicago Bears: Guess who just inched closer to the playoffs? Favre’s buddy himself, Bears QB Jay Cutler.

Without Favre, the Vikings are still the defending NFC North champions. But adding him as the missing ingredient to a potential Super Bowl run likely would have relegated the Bears to aiming for a wild-card playoff berth.

Now with the Vikings still uncertain at quarterback, Bears fans can join Packers fans in rejoicing and hoping for a division crown of their own in 2009.

Sage Rosenfels: Up until Favre finally (we think) said goodbye to the Vikings and the NFL for good, Rosenfels was gearing up to win his first true starting job after making only 12 starts in seven NFL seasons.

Before Favre’s first retirement of this offseason, Brad Childress and the Vikings had targeted, wooed and signed the ex-Texans backup QB to a free-agent deal, dangling the starting job as bait. All he had to do was beat out young and inconsistent Tarvaris Jackson during training camp.

Soon springtime hit and the Favre-to-Minnesota rumor train picked up enough steam for Rosenfels to essentially be demoted before the first snap of camp.

Now, instead of holding a clipboard and headset for No. 4, Rosenfels, 30, gets his chance after showing glimpses of efficiency this offense sorely lacks.

Ted Thompson: Now that the Book of Favre is officially published (again, we think), don’t be surprised if the Packers GM pops the cork on some vino from a vintage year.

About this time last summer, Thompson was known throughout the land as “The Guy Who Ran Brett Favre out of Green Bay.” Thompson was being villified by hordes of Favre fans locally and nationally for first pressuring No. 4 to retire before he was ready, then not allowing Favre to return after he changed his mind.

One year later, the embattled Thompson was proven correct. Favre was one-and-done with the Jets and teased them and the Vikings this offseason, while the Packers’ new franchise QB, Aaron Rodgers, is signed into the next decade.

And if Thompson kept Favre last summer, Rodgers was as good as gone after what would have been his free-agent year in ’08.

Woody Johnson: The Jets owner sure came out of the Brett Favre experience unscathed.

Sure, Favre hurt his arm, faded down the stretch and failed to lead New York back to the playoffs (losing to ex-Jets QB Chad Pennington in the season finale). But many forget the Jets still improved from an irrelevant 4-12 in ’07 to a high-profile 9-7 in ’08 — with that attention translating into big bucks via attendance, concessions, parking, jersey sales, luxury suites, etc.

And just weeks after losing Favre to retirement, Johnson’s Jets may have landed the next “Broadway Joe” franchise QB, Mark Sanchez, in the draft.

Favre became the perfect stopgap solution and near-perfect gamble for Johnson.

Losers

Brad Childress: This is a bitter pill to swallow for the Vikings head coach, who invested loads of man-hours into his man-crush on Favre.

There’s a big reason Childress put so much of himself into the gamble this offseason — because quarterback’s not just one blemish on his team that needs fixing, it’s the wart that is holding back the Vikings from a Super season.

Now after all the phone calls, text messages, convoys to Mississippi — not to mention modification of a major portion of the playbook, Childress is back to square one and the Vikes are no playoff shoe-in.

Tarvaris Jackson: Wait, shouldn’t last year’s starting QB be a winner with Favre out of the QB picture?

Not so fast. It’s not like Jackson will plop right back into the cozy confines of the Vikes’ starting gig. He already had a camp fight on his hands to beat out the other new guy, Rosenfels.

But how does the young Jackson walk into and command a veteran locker room, one with plenty of players openly recruiting Favre as much as the coaching staff? While no teammate would stoop to T.O. levels to say it, the implied message is, “Tarvaris, you’re the reason we lost in the playoffs last year.”

Now this year, do you think Vikings fans will react patiently any time Jackson throws a pick? Think he’ll look over his shoulder a little?

Hopefully Jackson can fight through the disappointment. If not, Childress just lost him for good.

Vikings fans: As if they hadn’t been burned by Favre enough in the past, this episode has to be the biggest kick in the gut delivered by their long-time nemesis.

Face it, in one year’s time fans in purple went from gloating over last year’s Favre drama blowing up on the Packers to sporting egg on their faces now … all thanks to dancing with No. 4.

And the Minnesota faithful had just talked themselves into accepting the idea of the “evil” Favre quarterbacking their beloved Vikings this season … only to get bellywhopped yet again. They should have seen it coming.

Bus Cook: In some ways Favre’s agent came out a winner during last year’s Favre drama, with Cook scoring plenty of publicity as Favre’s frontman and a nice commission in his client’s deal with the Jets.

Not this time. Some reports cited recent Favre waffling as evidence that Cook was looking to milk another big payday out of his Hall of Famer. Speculation had Favre’s potential pricetag in the $10-12 million range for 2009 — not including negotiated percentages of ticket/jersey sales.

Oh well. I’m sure he’ll get by.