Let’s take those rumors of Brett Favre possibly becoming the next head coach of the Green Bay Packers and put them right to bed. Sure, it would make for a lot of headlines and a plenty of media buzz throughout the season. Heck, it would even make a great Hollywood movie script, but it won’t make for a successful season in Green Bay next fall. Simply put, Favre isn’t qualified to be an NFL head coach, not just yet, anyway.
Favre said earlier this week that “It’s definitely interesting,” when he was asked about the possibility of coaching the Packers. He then added, “But believe me, that’s not going to happen. How can you not be intrigued by that? They would never offer, but even if they would, that’s … I’m not ready for that and neither are they.”
How not ready is Favre? He’s never been a head coach or even an assistant coach at the NFL level. He hasn’t even coached at a major college program. Or a small college program. Favre hasn’t even been a head coach in high school, although he did act as offensive coordinator for Oak Grove High School in Mississippi and helped lead the team to a state title. Oh yeah, that was five years ago.
That’s not to say Favre can’t become a good coach someday. He certainly knows the game of football. He’s learned from some outstanding coaches like Mike Holmgren during his 20 years in the NFL. Favre has experienced and seen just about everything the game of football has to offer over the course of his Hall of Fame career. He’s won Super Bowls and experienced a few losing seasons. He’s seen what it takes to make a team successful and run one of the best offenses in the game at a very high level.
But you don’t go from being offensive coordinator of Oak Grove High School to being head coach of the Green Bay Packers. That’s only skipping a dozen or so steps along the coaching ladder. It’s like going from a student in nursery school to being Stephen Hawking overnight. It just isn’t done.
The Packers tried this once before in their history and the results weren’t good. Bart Starr’s Hall of Fame career ended after the 1971 season. In 1972, he was the quarterback coach for the Packers under Dan Devine. Starr then helped second-year pro Scott Hunter lead the Packers to a 10-4 record and an NFC Central Division title.
Starr was out of coaching for the next two seasons and then was named head coach of the Packers for 1975. He lasted nine seasons in Green Bay and finished with a record of 52-76-3. Starr’s teams qualified for the playoffs just once during the strike-shortened 1982 season when they finished 5-3-1.
Listen to what Starr himself said about his coaching experience. “It was a mistake and I almost knew it from the start. I didn’t have the guts to say ‘no,’” Starr said. “I hadn’t trained to be a coach. That takes great training. Being an assistant under a Coach Lombardi or a Tom Landry, or whoever, that prepares you to do a better job when you become a coach. I hadn’t received that training. It showed.”
There are other potential problems with hiring Favre that are too obvious to take the idea seriously. Whoever the next Packers coach is, he needs to command the respect of one Aaron Rodgers and be able to coach him effectively.
Favre and Rodgers were former teammates when Rodgers was drafted in 2005 and it didn’t exactly go well initially.
“When I was 35 and Aaron was up and coming — first, second year — the only thing we had in common was we both played quarterback for the same team,” Favre said. “That was it.”
While the relationship certainly has improved, and the two most recent Packers star quarterbacks now consider themselves friends, that’s a far cry from having a respectful and constructive working relationship. Just ask Rodgers and Mike McCarthy about that.
Favre himself acknowledged he’s not ready yet to be an NFL head coach. “Will I do it? (coach at a higher level) Who knows,” Favre said. “I do feel like I have a lot to offer the next level and the next level after that. As a college, pro coach, there’s very little time devoted to anything other than football. Right now, I’m not willing to give up that time.”
If he’s willing to give up that time and pay the price to learn the craft of coaching, maybe someday Favre can be an NFL coach. There’s a long road to travel before he reaches that point.
The next Packers coach will be someone with an established resume coaching at a high level of football. He will be somebody who will work well with Aaron Rodgers and help bring the Packers back to being a perennial playoff team and Super Bowl contender. That person will not be Brett Favre. Not this time around, at least.