As NFL training camps open this week with Cleveland and Dallas taking the field first, Brett Favre stands alone as the only player in the league who's happy with his contract but who may not show up for workouts.
Unlike guys who may hold out in an attempt to get more money, he seems fine with the $13 million the Vikings are offering him in 2010. And even though Favre is supposedly still deciding whether he wants to play a 20th season in the NFL, the prevailing school of thought is that he'll be back. So what's the deal with possibly skipping training camp?
The Favre apologists are quick to point out that he has earned this type of special treatment based upon his status and longevity in the league. If that's the case, didn't Jerry Rice earn it as well? Or Emmitt Smith? Not to mention offensive linemen who played into their 40s, like Bruce Matthews and Jackie Slater. I'm pretty sure they all earned the right not to attend the worst three or four weeks of the year without facing the possibility of being fined, but I don't remember them skipping out on their teammates. Sure, their reps were measured and they were given practices off here and there, but they showed up year after year, even in the twilight of their careers. And they all played positions that are much more physically demanding during training camp than quarterback.
For a present day example, I don't see Ray Lewis staying away from camp, even though he too has earned that kind of preferential treatment with the Ravens. That's because he, like the retired players I mentioned, knows that being with his teammates is the right thing to do, for so many reasons, including team-building. I mean, there's a reason it's called teamwork, Brett.
And yet, Favre isn't likely to report until mid- to late-August, shortly after the Vikings have packed up their training camp bags in Mankato, Minn., and headed back to the Twin Cities.
Is he worried about the intense practices? Sorry, but as a former offensive lineman I am not going to let a quarterback who wears a red jersey in practice attempt to get away with that excuse. That red jersey he wears means he is not allowed to even be touched, so Favre's gotta come up with something better than that.
Maybe he doesn't want to wear out his arm? Seems reasonable until you consider exactly how much clout and control Favre has in this situation. Does anyone honestly think head coach Brad Childress would ask Favre to throw one more football than he wants to? Didn't think so. Favre could easily be on a pitch count if he wanted. Heck, it could be the exact same number of throws he makes every day at Oak Grove High in Mississippi.
So if he can't get hit and he can make as few throws as he wants, why exactly does he not want to be there, like the rest of his teammates? Is it sunburn? I'm sure they can find him a hat. Doesn't like the beds in Mankato? I'll bet they'd be willing to bring in a king size Tempur-Pedic for the 40-year-old grandfather. Maybe it's the food, but I always loved the myriad of culinary options available at training camp, so I find that one hard to believe too.
My point is not that Favre's desire to skip training camp will have an adverse effect on the Vikings season, because clearly, based on their success last year, that isn't the concern. My point is that Favre is not deserving of being a team leader if he misses training camp this year. There doesn't appear to be any good reason for him to not be there, other than he can get away with it. But that means it's all about him again, as, sadly, it usually is.