Favre’s Return, McNair’s Death Dominate NFL’s Offseason Docket

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Favre's Return, McNair's Death Dominate NFL's Offseason Docket Drum roll, please. The three-day countdown concludes today. Without
further ado, here are the top-five story lines of the NFL offseason.
Check out Nos. 6-10 from Tuesday and Nos. 11-15 from Monday.

5. Déjà vu all over again
Brett Favre
’s multiple comeback attempts have grown more embarrassing than Britney Spears
second act (minus the blurred photos on TMZ, of course). I feel I
should apologize in advance for even including another nugget about
Favre’s will-he-or-won’t-he antics, but I can’t ignore it.

It sounds like he’ll return to the league and play for the Minnesota
Vikings, a move that reeks of revenge aimed at the Green Bay Packers.
If Favre goes on to prove he’s got something left in the tank — the
injury that derailed his performance and the New York Jets’ playoff
chances late last season suggest otherwise — I’ll tip my cap and admit
I was wrong.

The sound bites from former players are enough of an indicator that
Favre’s act has grown stale, and his love for staying in the spotlight
might already be tearing apart the Vikings locker room, particularly
among the players who are in the corner of quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. Still, it will be priceless to watch him play for the Vikes in Green Bay next season.

4. Vick out of the pound
From one story everyone is sick of hearing to another. Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was released from prison and might even regain his NFL eligibility if he can earn the good graces of commissioner Roger Goodell.
But at least for once, Vick’s story isn’t as much about his
incarceration as it is about his future in football. Even if Vick needs
to get his feet wet in the upstart United Football League, there’s an
NFL organization out there that will ultimately take a chance on the
former No. 1 pick. I’d say he’s back in the league at some point in
2009.

3. Brady’s back
The New England Patriots went from the highest of highs to the
lowest of lows during a stretch of about five quarters of football.
They were 18-0 before losing Super Bowl XLII to the New York Giants and
then lost quarterback Tom Brady to a knee injury in
the first quarter of the 2008 season opener against the Kansas City
Chiefs. Now that Brady is back at full strength, the Patriots figure to
return to the top. And as I’ve written in this space already, he’s got
a great chance to be the second player in league history to be the MVP
and Comeback Player of the Year in the same season.

2. Mile-high mess
If you’re going to fire a legendary coach, you better be
absolutely sure of what you’re doing. So far, through the faults of
many, the Denver Broncos have failed to show any stability in the post-Mike Shanahan era. Josh McDaniels is an interesting head coaching prospect who is an offensive genius and also has two seasons as a defensive assistant under Bill Belichick.

Just 33 years old, McDaniels has to prove he can be the leader of
Denver’s locker room. He took one on the chin almost immediately when Jay Cutler
raised a stink over his involvement in trade rumors. While it’s never
easy to unload a quarterback of Cutler’s talent, it was a necessary
move for McDaniels to send the notice that he’s the one in charge.

McDaniels is now faced with a similar situation with oft-troubled wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who loves the sound of his own voice nearly as much as Chad Ochocinco,
or whatever his name is this week. Marshall is expendable — most
receivers are, to be honest — so McDaniels should do his due diligence
to see what he can acquire as compensation.

Not all is lost in Denver. McDaniels made an impact in free agency
and the draft, and there is still enough talent on the roster to
compete in an average AFC West. The optimism is there with the Broncos.
They, and McDaniels, just have to prove this adversity is merely a
hurdle.

1. McNair murdered
Still fresh in the news cycle, the death of former quarterback Steve McNair
has rocked generations of NFL players. The 2003 co-MVP and three-time
Pro Bowler was one of the best quarterbacks in the league for about a
seven-year stretch with Tennessee. Similar to Patrick Ewing,
McNair was in his prime during the wrong time, as he went head to head
in the Super Bowl with the dynamic St. Louis Rams before continually
falling short to the Patriots’ dynasty.

But McNair made some mistakes off the field, abandoning his wife and
four children to have an affair, according to police reports, with a
woman who was legitimately young enough to be his daughter. The
relationship ultimately ended in a murder-suicide, and there seem to be
so many questions left unanswered.

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