Welcome back Packers fans to what I call, “The Packers Multiverse.” If you’ve been following along with each episode, you’ll know that I take a piece of Green Bay Packers history, and twist it a little, or a lot. Along this journey, we will be traveling to different Multiverse’s where decisions or outcomes were made different. Does it turn out better? Or does it turn out worse? We can only find out by entering, The Packers Multiverse.
Brett Favre Un-Retires and is Traded
In our multiverse, after throwing a heartbreaking interception in overtime of the NFC Championship game in 2008, Brett Favre called it a career. Or so we thought. After several months of being “retired” Favre decided he wanted to return.
Favre made his way back to Green Bay but was essentially stopped at the door. The Packers had moved on and were now moving forward with Aaron Rodgers, and Favre was traded to the New York Jets. Favre plays one year for the Jets and then goes on to play two more seasons for the Packers hated rival, the Minnesota Vikings.
Rodgers of course, goes on to have a decorated 15-year career with the Packers winning one Super Bowl and four MVP awards.
But what if the Packers gave in to Favre and let him lead the Packers into the 2008 season?
We now visit the Multiverse where that indeed happened.
Favre is Welcomed Back With Open Arms
After the great Brett Favre decided not to retire and return to the Packers, the Packers welcomed him back into the building. They were just one big play away from the Super Bowl last year. With essentially all of their offensive weapons and the majority of their defense returning, they thought there was a good chance they could run it back.
They had a bit of an issue though. A Quarterback they’d been grooming the last three years, Aaron Rodgers now has zero desire to sit another year. He knows he has the talent to lead a team to victory, and he wants out. The Packers spend some time trying to convince him to stay but then they think “hey, we just drafted two young Quarterbacks in Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn, perhaps one of them could benefit from a year behind Brett too, let’s just make a deal.”
With Rodgers being a promising young QB, the Packers are able to send him to the Quarterback-needy New York Jets in exchange for a 1st and 4th round pick in 2009. Rodgers is off to the Jets, and the Packers are ready to cease their chance at one more Super Bowl with Brett Favre.
Favre takes advantage of the weapons he’s had on offense before, as well as some new faces in Wide Receiver Jordy Nelson, and Tight End Jermichael Finley. Favre hadn’t had a TE like Finley ever in his career and he insured he took full advantage. He called for the young TE a bit more than his previous target Donald Lee and hit the young rookie for 534 yards and 4 touchdowns. Finley really allowed the offense to open up.
Explosive Offense Fuels Spectacular Season
With possibly the best group of pass catchers Favre had ever had in his career, he led the Packers to a spectacular 14-2 record, and the number one seed for the NFC Playoffs. After Arizona defeated Minnesota in the Wild Card round, it was time for Kurt Warner to face the team that signed him as an undrafted free agent 14 years ago but released him before the season started.
Warner’s hot Cardinals team came into Green Bay rolling, but the team from Phoenix couldn’t pull it off in the frigid Lambeau weather. It was a close game, but the Packers’ high-powered offense in the end was too much, and they defeated the Cardinals 31-23. After the Giants had defeated the Carolina Panthers in NYC, it was time for a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship Game.
Favre entered the game with a bit of a chip on his shoulder after the Giants nearly sent him into retirement the previous year. It was a frigid 15 degrees at kickoff, almost the same as the previous season, but the wind was a little more favorable only gusting at 5 mph. This time around, Favre was able to hold it together, not making the mistakes he made the previous year, and the Packers went on to win a close game, 30-27.
They moved on to Super Bowl XLIII where they were also victorious in defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-28. Favre was now at peace with ending his career and announced his true retirement shortly after, exiting Green Bay in a blaze of glory.
But what’s next?
The Packers need a new QB
It’s great that the Packers were able to win one more Super Bowl with Brett Favre, but they now found themselves in a bad situation. The Quarterback they drafted the previous year in the second round, Brian Brohm, was NOT their guy. He had struggled in camp and during the season and was beat out by 7th round pick, Matt Flynn.
The Packers were not willing to move forward with Flynn as their Quarterback. Unfortunately, the Free Agent class was not at all promising either as the best available were at the tail end of their careers as well, and to sign one of them just to end up in this predicament a year or so later would be foolish.
Using the 1st round pick they received from the New York Jets, the Packers drafted Quarterback, Josh Freeman. Freeman had previously played with receiver Jordy Nelson at Kansas State and seemed to be a good choice. They also traded back up in the first round to select Clay Matthews and bolster their defense under new defensive coordinator Dom Capers.
Freeman got off to a pretty good start with the great offense at his disposal and led the Packers to an 8-8 record his first season. He was then able to lead the Packers to a 10-6 record in 2010, just barely making the playoffs as the 6th seed. Unfortunately, the Packers lost to the Philadelphia Eagles the first round. Freeman all in all turned out to be a serviceable QB for the Packers for five years, but injuries derailed his career.
After going 6-10 in 2013 mainly due to Freeman’s injuries, the Packers found themselves ready to move on from the Kansas State QB. The Packers had found themselves in a QB purgatory and joined the rest of the league in their quest to find “the guy” once again.
This multiverse saw Brett Favre win a second Super Bowl. Packer fans got to avoid the drama of Favre heading to Minnesota and honestly, perhaps Favre’s own life is a little better after this as he feels some fulfillment in the way he wrapped up his great career.
For the Packers however, this sends them in to Quarterback purgatory for the next decade. Perhaps they lure a Free Agent QB to their ranks in 2014, but even the Quarterbacks in the draft weren’t so promising then.
This helps show that regardless of where we’re at now, we might not have had it any better than we did. Now perhaps next I’ll look into some personnel changes that should’ve been made in between. But until then. Go Pack Go.
Greg Meinholz is a 24/7/365 Packers fan. When he’s not spending time with his family, he can be found meditating in his Packers shrine with a good beer. You can follow him on twitter at @gmeinholz.
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