I don't think I'd be out of line in saying that Steve Young is an oasis in an ESPN desert of crapitude. Any man who was constantly subjected to Joe Morgan's and Michael Irvin's ramblings on a regular basis and yet kept a positive outlook is pretty much my hero. Also, he was a fair quarterback, I hear (if holding the NFL career record for passing percentage and winning six passing titles mean anything). So if anyone knows what Brett Favre is going through these days, it's Young. Here's his take on the whole ugly scenario, as related on KNBR-680 radio on Monday.
What are Favre's chances of playing this season? Zero, if he doesn't come back and beg the Packers for one more year, according to Young.
"I've always likened retirement to falling off a cliff emotionally," Young told host Ralph Barbieri. "You're at the top of your field, and suddenly you're done. I was great at football, but I haven't been that great at anything since. And once that sinks in, that realization is really hard.
"So I understand the cliff Brett was facing. He was emotionally drained in February, but by April he wanted to come back, and I completely understand that."
But he also sees the Packers' position. They wanted to move forward — and by all accounts asked Favre twice if he wanted to come back — and when Favre said no both times, it was over.
"The Packers said that there has to be a point when you say you're done, and that's it," Young said. "They said, 'You've crossed the Maginot Line, you're done, and we have to move on.' That's the business. But the mistake they made is not telling everyone that at the time. Now both sides are telling different stories and it's a mess."
What would Young do if he were in Favre's shoes?
"He's not going to get traded, and he's not going to be released," Young said. "The Packers can't take the chance that he'd sign with the Vikings and come back and beat them twice. So Brett's in a tough spot. The Packers called his bluff, and he has few options. If he really wants to play, about the only thing he can do is go in and try and cut a deal with Green Bay. He could say 'Is there any way I can play one more year? I'll sign whatever you want to make it official; one more year and I'm done.' That way he can go out on his terms. It's about the only way."
Young didn't try to sign on with another team after the 49ers because, he said, it's harder for a quarterback to move in the twilight of his career than it is for a position player.
"I was talking to Jerry Rice about this recently," Young said. "Jerry can go to the Raiders because it's easier for a receiver. With a quarterback there are so many different factors; you kind of run the team, you're looking at the protection you're going to have; the situation has to be right. And I didn't want to end my career like Joe Namath in a Rams jersey (he could have said Joe Montana in a Chiefs jersey, but refrained). It was going to be the 49ers or nothing."
My wish for Young since his retirement has always been that he be allowed to go in and by the 49ers. But that seems even less likely than Favre in a Bears jersey.