After everything that has happened since March -- after all of the tears, all of the vacillating, all of the, well, insanity of a story that seemingly changes by the minute -- we still don't truly have an end to the Brett Favre saga.
We probably never will … not until the day finally does come (and I'm guessing it's going to at some point this decade) that he actually stops playing football.
Favre's return to Green Bay Sunday night and reinstatement on Monday only means that the stage for this never-ending drama has shifted from his home in Mississippi to what has served as his NFL home for the past 17 years.
It doesn't necessarily mean there is resolution.
In fact, it is still difficult to gauge exactly what it does mean. Hopefully that will be known by Tuesday, when the Packers reveal their plans for Favre, but I'm not holding my breath. I've given up on the notion that anyone involved in this situation can make a decision and stick with it.
Will there really be an "open competition" between Favre and the man the Packers' brass have insisted would be their starter, Aaron Rodgers? Given his larger-than-life status and MVP-level performance in 2007, Favre can't honestly be expected to compete to win the job with which he has greater identity than anyone else who has ever played for the Packers. If he is staying in Green Bay, he is going to be the No. 1 quarterback. Period. Any suggestion to the contrary is ludicrous. The Packers, succumbing to mounting public pressure, already have backed down from their "stay away" stance with Favre. They can't welcome him back conditionally. Either he's all the way back or he isn't.
Which brings up a key phrase from the interesting statement released by Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy: "We will welcome him back and turn this situation to our advantage."
Rumors persist that the Pack might, in fact, ship him to NFC North rival Minnesota. That would be an incredibly bold move, although, as the prevailing theory goes, if general manager Ted Thompson and the rest of the club's decision-makers don't believe Favre is good enough to be their starter, why not send him to the Vikings or any other team they face twice per season?
I agree that if the Packers genuinely maintain they are willing to press on without Favre, they shouldn't be discouraged about trading him within the division. However, they should only do so if that team is willing to give up more than any other potential trading partner.
And how comfortable can the Packers feel about moving forward with Rodgers in the No. 1 spot? Sure, he might have the edge over Favre in reading coverages and avoiding pressure. He might be able to make more things happen when a defense is able to bring the sort of pressure that clearly bothered Favre during last season's showdown between the Packers and the Dallas Cowboys.
However, Rodgers has a well-documented problem with staying in one piece. He also didn't do himself any favors with his poor showing in Sunday night's intrasquad scrimmage, before a a crowd of 56,000 fans at Lambeau Field, after Favre's arrival in Green Bay. No one should ever read too much into one scrimmage, but the fact was, as his status potentially took a dramatic turn for the worse, Rodgers was struggling to complete passes (throwing nine consecutive incompletions at one point) and drawing boos in the process.
This story long carried the potential to do damage on multiple fronts. Favre's legacy has taken a hit. In some circles, his wavering about retirement has been considered downright silly and not befitting the greatness of his career. In others, he has made himself out to be an ego maniac whose primary mission is to show the Packers' administration who's boss.
The Packers' leadership has taken a pretty good hit as well. Transitioning into the post-Favre era was never going to be easy, and his change of heart after his tearful retirement announcement in March put them in an impossible position. They had every right to move forward without him. They had every right to attempt to keep him retired by offering a 10-year, $20-million deal to have a non-playing role with the franchise.
Yet, using any sort of forceful approach to keep away an icon gave Thompson, Murphy, and coach Mike McCarthy no chance of coming out of this thing without some nasty scars to their collective reputation.
Whether anyone agrees or not, the NFL is a better league with Favre in it. It's hard to imagine the Packers not being at least as good as they were in '07 without Favre. It's hard to imagine Favre wearing another team's uniform, although, from the NFL's perspective, that holds the promise of an extremely juicy storyline … especially if that team is the Vikings.
If nothing else, the Packers need to hang onto Favre long enough to at least create a perception among other teams that he is a viable part of their plans for 2008.
And the rest of us have no choice but to keep our seatbelts fastened for this crazy ride with no end in sight.
Have a question for Vic on anything NFL related? Don't just sit there -- send it to AskVic@nfl.com, and the best questions will be answered throughout the season right here on NFL.com!