Do you remember the 2007 season for the Chicago Bears?
They were one year removed from a loss in Super Bowl XLI, coming off a disappointing 7-9 season still struggling to find a reliable quarterback. The three headed monster of Brian Griese, Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton wasn't getting it done as they combined for 3,692 yards, 17 touchdowns to 21 interceptions and a 71.7 passer rating.
Compare that to the 2007 Green Bay Packers, who went 13-3 led by 38 year old Brett Favre and his 95.7 passer rating, 4,155 yards, with 28 TDs to 15 picks.
The Packers decided after the '07 season that it was time to move on from the future Hall Of Famer, and allow Aaron Rodgers to take the reins. They let Favre know their plans, leaving him with the choice of playing as the #2 or retiring.
Favre retired March of 2008.
But he had second thoughts.
Sports Illustrated's Peter King recounts a story from 2008.
A couple of months later I was washing my dog in my New Jersey driveway (true story) when my cell rang. It was Favre. I put down the soap and hose and talked to him. He said he was having second thoughts. Lots of them. He said he still wanted to play. He said he was thinking of asking for his release so he could play somewhere else. Chicago or Minnesota, maybe. I told him I didn't think the Packers would release him so he could torment them from within the division. I remember saying to him that day he should think about all the kids with Brett Favre posters on their walls; they'd be heartbroken if he ever walked into Lambeau as a Bear or Viking. At the time he wanted to keep his ruminations quiet, because he was still thinking about what to do.
Yep, the Chicago Bears and the bold in that blockquote is mine.
Can you imagine Favre coming to play for the Bears when Lovie Smith's Tampa 2 with Brian Urlacher, Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs were all playing at a high level?
As the calendar crept closer to the opening of training camps, Favre really got the itch to unretire, but he was still technically under contract with the Packers. There was no way the Pack would release him, especially with three QB needy teams playing in the NFC North.
More from Peter King,
On the Saturday before the Packers were due at training camp, I visited Favre at his home outside Hattiesburg, Miss. He and wife Deanna were there, and agent Bus Cook. We went to dinner with some relatives, then back to the house on his 465-acre spread. That day, Thompson asked Favre for a list of teams he'd agree to be traded to. Favre wouldn't give him one. If Favre couldn't go to Minnesota or Chicago, his preference was to force Thompson's hand, and come back to play quarterback for the Packers. For Thompson, that was a non-starter.
The Packers were all in for Aaron Rodgers and they had no intention on allowing Favre to play in Green Bay anymore. The only viable option was for Favre to agree to a trade to the Tampa Buccaneers or the New York Jets, the two teams that Green Bay gave permission to speak with Favre's agent.
He ended up agreeing to a trade to the Jets, and he played one year in New York before retiring again. In April of 2009 the Jets released Favre form his contract, just weeks after the Bears traded for Jay Cutler.
Favre again got the itch to play football and he finally found his way back to the NFC North in August of '09, this time with the Minnesota Vikings.
Imagine how different things would have gone had Favre somehow finagled his way to Chicago during the spring of 2008.