Ben Leber, former Vikes LB extraordinaire, did not take too kindly to Brett Favre’s comments recently that one of the primary reasons for his return in 2010 was the extra $20 mil in cash that was offered for his services. To Leber, this apparently indicates that Favre wasn’t there to win.
"He clearly wasn’t mentally and emotionally into it, and that’s the thing that kind of bugged me. I get it, you’ve got to make the money when you can make it, even though he has made hundreds of millions of dollars. When he says it’s about the money, it just means that he wasn’t committed to us. So that irritated me a little bit, not for him taking the money, but for what it really meant."
Leber continued to rail on Favre a bit on KFAN. According to Leber, he felt that Favre’s mindset was:
"You know, I’ll kind of stagger back in here, and I’ll give you guys what I’ve got, but I just know wholeheartedly I don’t have it in me, and the money’s too good to pass up."
Now, I know the knee-jerk instinct may be to back Leber on this one. First off, Leber’s really more the Viking than Favre… Leber gave us more seasons, and more successful seasons. And it’s easy to agree with a player who’s railing on another guy for just checking in for the paycheck. However, I really can’t fully agree.
There are a few things to point out regarding Favre’s return and performance in 2010, I think, that Leber’s not looking at. First off, while the money might have been the primary reason, let’s not forget that Jared Allen, Steve Hutchinson, and Ryan Longwell flew down there to personally beg for him to return. And while yes, Favre was offered a $20 mil raise to do so (and yes, that was apparently a big deal), let’s not forget that was Zygi Wilf’s call, not Favre’s: the man never asked for a raise, or claimed he would return if he was paid more. Wilf was just smart enough to know that if you throw enough money at something like this, boom, problem solved. Favre knew it wasn’t a good idea for us to put him under center in 2010; remember, he even texted his Viking teammates at one point saying "this is it". And according to what the Three Amigos said regarding their ‘visit’ with Favre, he even told them as much before finally relenting to their pleas and jumping aboard the plane ride back with them.
And even all that aside, I wouldn’t agree that Favre wasn’t committed to the 2010 season. His body was broken, the team was falling apart around him, but to me he still gave it his all. The man who had taken I believe 52 seasons of brutal NFL punishment took a beating in 2010 like never before, but kept getting back out there. When all was lost in that second Green Bay game, he was still hurling the ball down the field in the final seconds, just desperate to give us another TD (even though I think we would have still lost by about 372 points). When he finally couldn’t return for a game because, well, his right arm apparently couldn’t hold a pen to sign those paychecks, he still returned the game after against Chicago, despite the fact that not only was the season lost, but he wasn’t even padding that legendary start streak anymore. (And he was nearly murdered that game for it.) Come on now- you can’t tell me that that’s not commitment.
If you ask me, $20 mil or not, 2010 held plenty of examples of Favre remaining plenty committed to his team. A lot of us here thought in 2010 at various points that he would retire midseason, but he didn’t- even in the final games where he couldn’t play, he loyally stood on the sidelines, holding a clipboard for some kid named Joe Webb. And as much as Favre could have stood at the podium and complained (the locker room is falling apart, our Head Coach is a moron, I’ve got no receivers outside of Percy Harvin, Bryant McKinnie is trying to get me killed because I didn’t share my Snickers bar), every time he spoke after a game he was humble and took full credit for his own failings, faults, and mistakes that were hurting us as a team- which is just to me the sign of a team player, not a guy who’s only there for the money.
I like Leber- he was a great Viking, and let us never forget it. But that said, I think he’s way off the mark here. Was Favre’s return in 2010 really a good idea for any of the involved parties? Nope, not really. Was one of the big reasons because Wilf cracked open the bank and dumped $20 million more into his paychecks? Sure. But to say that Favre didn’t at least repay the favor by giving 100% of his efforts, regardless of what those efforts were limited to, that I wouldn’t agree with.