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No longer Favre-ites

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Expect Las Vegas Sports Consultants, the oddsmaking firm that supplies betting lines to many of Nevada hotels, to raise the Green Bay Packers’ Super Bowl odds from 7-1 up to 15-1.

The LVSC linemakers probably will reduce Green Bay’s regular season ‘over/under’ win total from 11 or 12 down to eight or nine when that prop comes out closer to the season.

All this because the Packers traded defensive tackle Corey Williams. Well, that and one other thing – Brett Favre announcing his retirement. The 38-year-old had been Green Bay’s starting quarterback since early in the 1992 season.

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Some Packer fans in their 20s and younger have never experienced another quarterback in the green and gold behind center.

Now the torch has been passed to the Aaron Rodgers era. The Packers provide Rodgers with solid pass protection, the best wide receiving depth in the NFC, a strong defense and good coaching.

“They’re still the best in their division,” Las Vegas Sports Consultants senior oddsmaker Mike Seba said of the Packers. “Absolutely.

“Aaron Rodgers hasn’t played much, but when he’s played he’s looked good. He has been groomed. Their defense has been the focal point.”

But the Packers aren’t the team to beat in the NFC North Division anymore because they’re the best in the conference. They’re the best in the division now only because the other teams are so weak.

Detroit never can gain respect as long as Matt Millen remains its general manager. Minnesota hasn’t solved its quarterback problems. Tarvaris Jackson makes Rodgers seem like Favre in comparison. Chicago doesn’t have a reliable quarterback either and its defense and offensive line got old in a hurry.

Rodgers probably is going to turn out to be a capable starter – although he must prove he’s not injury-prone and isn’t just a check-off type of passer too jittery to make plays downfield.

Favre gave the Packers leadership, a constant big-play threat and the ability to avoid a pass rush with his savvy, quick release and intrinsic scrambles.

Why did Favre quit now, especially with Green Bay so close to returning to the Super Bowl? Yes, he’s 38, but he still has his fastball. He remains an upper tier quarterback. Favre probably would have won MVP honors if it weren’t for Tom Brady putting together a record-breaking season.

I think it was a combination of things. The cold weather seemed to affect him for the first time. The Packers played in two of the coldest games in recent memory, at Chicago on Dec. 23 and hosting the Giants on Jan. 20 in the NFC title game.

Favre couldn’t be happy when for the second straight year Packers General Manager Ted Thompson wouldn’t sign Randy Moss or another top offensive free agent such as guard Alan Faneca or running back Michael Turner despite Green Bay being way under the salary cap.

Another factor, not reported by the media, was perhaps Favre was picking up whispers that Rodgers might seriously challenge him for the starting spot. It sounds crazy given Favre’s outstanding season and God-like status in Wisconsin, but Favre’s overtime interception against the Giants that led to the winning field goal was so egregious there were some in the organization who wanted him replaced.

Keep in mind that Thompson drafted Rodgers. Thompson is about youth. The Packers were the youngest team last year even with Favre. Rodgers is Thompson’s boy. The Packers also gain tremendous salary cap relief with Favre retiring, not that Thompson would go on a spending spree with it.

Favre owns many of the major passing records now. But he’s more about winning the Super Bowl than records. He knows, following this season, that anything less than capturing the Super Bowl would be a disappointing season.

It takes tremendous talent and luck to make a serious Super Bowl run. The Packers were very fortunate injury-wise. That kind of luck rarely holds up two years in a row.

The other question we must ask about Favre is where does he rank among the greatest? Is he the best of all time?

No, he’s not. Talent-wise and competitive-wise he ranks with John Elway and Dan Marino as the best. But Joe Montana, Otto Graham, Sid Luckman and Johnny Unitas rarely, if ever, were intercepted during clutch situations. Favre was too many times.

Favre, though, always was a pure joy to watch. He was a reckless, fearless improviser of the highest order. No quarterback was tougher or seemed to enjoy himself on the field more.

It’s these same traits that may compel Favre to return, especially if Rodgers were to get hurt. Don’t be shocked if Favre’s retirement is short-lived. He’s got too much game, and love of the game, to retire now.

  
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