Fran Tarkenton's comments to 790 The Zone in Atlanta have made plenty of noise around the blogosphere, and rightfully so -- I think he said what many football fans have thought about Brett Favre for quite some time:
Here’s an organization that was loyal to him for 17, 18 years, provided stability of organization, provided players. It just wasn’t about Brett Favre. In this day and time, we have glorified the Brett Favre’s of the world so much, they think it’s about them.
Some are criticizing the messenger, but most seem to generally be in agreement with Fran. These comments, however, also raise an interesting issue that goes beyond Favre -- whether or not today's professional athletes feel any sense of loyalty to franchises, and whether or not they should feel any sense of loyalty to franchises.
Fran makes a solid point in that, for the most part, the Packers provided an excellent environment for Favre to succeed in. And what does Brett do to repay them after spending 16 years in Green Bay? He creates an offseason mess, a huge distraction for the team as it went back to training camp, and a nightmarish front office dilemma between looking to the future at the quarterback position or keeping Aaron Rodgers on the sidelines for another year.
For those wishing the superstars of sports would maintain a sense of loyalty to the teams that brought them to prominence, Favre is the perfect example that no such feelings exist any longer. This guy was Green Bay Packers football for over a decade, but in an instant, he was off to New York City.
There's little question that Fran's on target in saying that Brett Favre has a self-centered mindset. We saw that last summer. But should we blame Brett for that? Tough to say, in my opinion -- we're reminded more than ever that professional sports are a business, so maybe we shouldn't criticize Favre for looking out for himself.
Then again, it's hard to defend how Favre treated an organization that had treated him extremely well throughout his career. Ultimately, I agree with Fran that Favre owed the Packers and the fans in Green Bay a much classier conclusion to his career, but generally speaking, I have a hard time with the argument that there should be more loyalty in sports. Players have the right to look out for their self-interest -- they just need to be professional about it, and that's the part where Favre stepped in it big time last summer.