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Brett Favre, Green Bay and Losing Your Best Guy

If you haven’t been following the Brett Favre unretirement story, bless your heart. From the perspective of an HR person, it is a gut wrenching affair that I hope I never have the pleasure of dealing with. Here is the scenario from my demented HR side:

  • Your longest serving and best employee (and one of the best employees the industry has ever seen) is on contract with you.
  • He has been mulling retirement for several years.
  • He finally decides this year is it for him. You understand but you need to move on as a company.
  • Right before the busiest season of the year, your retired employee wants to come back to work for you and he wants all of his old accounts back.
  • You tell him that you’ve given them to the journeyman who replaced him in March.
  • He asks to be released from his contract so he can go work for your direct competitor.
  • You say “No, you can come back but you’re going to have to earn your accounts back.”
  • He doesn’t like that and goes to the biggest industry magazine and gives an interview saying that he doesn’t feel welcome back at his old company and that because of his years of service, he should simply be released.

What do you do as a manager?

Oh, and by the way, the stockholders are well informed of the entire situation and are closely watching your every move. No pressure.

Brett Favre is inarguably the best player on his team even at retirement age. He also has a legacy with Green Bay and the shareholder fans of Green Bay absolutely love him.

That being said, the Packers are a business and he needs to understand that it would be absolutely foolish to release him to a competitor without getting something back in return. As a contracted employee, Favre is in the inenviable spot of being subject to management’s discretion regarding him playing in the game, being traded or allowing him to be released unrestricted.

Now the Packers, to my understanding, have allowed Favre the opportunity to list teams that he would rather be traded for and they could easily get a high draft pick for Favre. And ultimately, they’d love to ship him out of their conference in order to lower the possibility they would be playing against him the next couple of years. It would be the equivalent of saying that in order to release you from the contract (which both parties mutually agreed to), you have to sign a non-compete agreement to not play in our division. I think that would be pretty reasonable.

I am glad the Packers have taken a stand even though I think they killed themselves on the PR side of this. They have to stand up for the employees and they can’t let one person (even if it is the best employee) dictate their entire operation. It has been 11 years since they have won a Superbowl and they aren’t going to do it in the next two years whether or not Favre is playing for them. If Green Bay shareholders can come to accept that, they should be able to see the logic in finding an amicable way to trade or release him without hurting themselves.

By Lance Haun

Strategy for The Starr Conspiracy. Former HR pro. Portland guy (Go Blazers!) and WSU alum (Go Cougs!). I get to write about what I want here.

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