ORLANDO – If you believe that Brett Favre can somehow turn the Tampa Bay Buccaneers into a Super Bowl contender, you probably also believe that you can turn one of the hottest, most humid spots in the United States into a family-vacation Mecca.
OK, given that Tampa Bay once again opened training camp Saturday at Disney World amid the most oppressive July weather that Florida has to offer, it's not impossible to believe that some fairy tale like Favre being traded to the Bucs could happen. If you close your eyes, you can even imagine Favre saying the famed line, “I'm going to Disney World!” after a Super Bowl victory.
Dreams can come true. But in this case, Favre's current dalliance with joining the Bucs or the New York Jets needs to be tempered by reality. If Brett Favre really wants to go to a Super Bowl again, his best shot is not coming to the Magic Kingdom or going anywhere else.
His best shot at real glory is to swallow his pride, apologize to the Green Bay Packers and their fans and hope that everybody is able to get past all the silliness that has happened in the past month. Go be the backup to Aaron Rodgers for a few weeks until everybody in the Packers front office also realizes that you're the best option in the chase for that ring.
Of course, that seems about as likely to happen now as Donald Duck lining up at defensive tackle for the Packers.
Rather, Favre – who is expected to ask for his reinstatement to the NFL and show up at Packers camp on Sunday as Green Bay holds its first training-camp practice on Monday – seems bent on pushing for a trade.
Right now, the teams most interested in Favre are Tampa Bay and the New York Jets. According a high-ranking Buccaneers source, Tampa Bay's interest is measured by the reality that, given the time of year and all the other issues that go with being an effective quarterback, Favre may not be a huge upgrade over Jeff Garcia.
Better? No question. Better enough to take the Bucs to a Super Bowl? That's a stretch.
That doesn't mean the Bucs and Jets shouldn't consider Favre. With the exception of Indianapolis and New England, every team in the NFL has to at least ask if he's worth getting. For many teams, such as Cincinnati or the New York Giants, the thought can be dismissed quickly.
For others, there has to be deep consideration. The Bucs are a prime example. Since Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl in 2001, its quarterback position has been a carousel. Unfortunately, most of the passers have gotten thrown from the ride.
"We've had some real difficult things in our last six years," head coach Jon Gruden said about the run of injuries at quarterback. "(Brad) Johnson got hurt in '02. (Chris) Simms got hurt in '04, (Brian) Griese in '05, Simms in '06, Garcia in '07. So we've not only had to change quarterbacks, but we've had to do it in the middle of the season – a lot. You have to adjust. You have to adjust big-time."
Given that Garcia, 38, is coming off a back injury and is pretty fragile to begin with, no one can blame Gruden and the Bucs for taking a long look at Favre, who also is 38 but hasn't a missed a start since 1992. However, despite a story Friday saying that the Bucs had received permission to speak to Favre, Gruden maintained he didn't know anything about that.
"I just can't address the speculation. We have good quarterbacks. We have a Pro Bowl quarterback in our own right," Gruden said. "No, I haven't talked to him and I don't know about any permission to talk to him. I'm just excited about this afternoon's practice."
The Bucs created a minor stir in the media when they changed the number of rookie cornerback Elbert Mack from 4 to 43, leaving Favre's number open on the roster. Still, Tampa Bay players such as wide receivers Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard and defensive end Kevin Carter had opinions similar to Gruden's about Favre.
"To be honest, I'e turned the TV off when the Favre stories come on," said the 36-year-old Galloway, who looks the part of wise veteran with his gray beard. "At this point, it's just repetitive. It's the same story again and again. If we trade for him or not, that's not up to me. My job doesn't change. I have to go catch the football whoever is the quarterback."
Of course, the job changes in some ways. Quarterbacks are different. Garcia is a dancer who darts around the field, keeping plays going. Backup Brian Griese is a pure pocket guy who has to throw the ball on time to be effective. Favre is off the charts, closer to Garcia but with a strong tendency to make it up as he goes along.
"With different guys, you have a whole different set of rules you follow," Galloway said. "It's like with Jeff: If he breaks the pocket and you're the deepest receiver, you're supposed to come back to him. If you're the shallow receiver, you do something else. But that's stuff you just have to understand whenever you change quarterbacks.
"If Brett comes here and he has some ways he likes to run things, I'll find that out and we'll get it together. But until that happens, I'm not going to worry about it."
In other words, there's no sense in letting the imagination run wild at this point.
Even when you're in a place that's all about imagination.
- Tampa Bay