The Brett Favre unretirement story and what the Green Bay Packers may do with their legendary player (bring him back, release him, trade him, ignore his agent’s text messages) has a unique sidelight to it for Washington Redskin fans.
No, it’s not Favre coming to Washington (though nothing can ever be ruled out at Asburn). It is the first crisis facing one of the former Redskins who is now running the Packers organization — Mark Murphy. Murphy was a safety for the Redskins from 1977 to 1984. He was a two-time Pro Bowler who had an interception in Washington’s 27-17 Super Bowl XVII win over the Miami Dolphinn. Murphy had 27 interceptions and six fumble recoveries in his eight years with the Redskins.
Murphy’s resume is perhaps more impressive off the field. A Colgate graduate, Murphy was a leader in the NFL Players Association when he was an active player, and when he left football, he got his law degree and worked for the Justice Department. He later became athletic director at Northwestern University.
In December, Murphy was named president and chief operating officer for the Packers. And though Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson is the point man in the Packers struggle with speculation of Favre’s return, the hot potato is also in the lap of Murphy, now the head man of the franchise.
He might want to call on the spirit of Jack Kent Cooke for advice. The Squire knew how to get rid of an unwanted player. In my book, “Hail Victory: An Oral History of the Washington Redskins,” Murphy tells the story of how Cooke said goodbye to him:
“In the second game of the 1984 season, I sprained ligaments in my knee. They put me on injured reserve, but I think the Redskins used it as a way to get rid of me. I can’t prove it, but at the time I was one of the leaders of the players union. I had played eight years and wanted to keep playing, but I had been accepted to law school and had a job offer from the NFL Players Association, and looking back on it, it was probably the best thing that happened to me. My career was over quickly and I got started working toward my law degree. The last time I had really played was in 1983, and I was a starter in the Pro Bowl and led the NFL in interceptions. I played two games the next year and never really played again. About a week after my injury, Cooke was at one of our practices, and he walks over to me and asks me, ‘How’s the knee?’ I said it would be a few weeks, and he answered, ‘Well, it doesn’t really matter, Mark. You’ll never play again.’ And I never played again.”
A lesson on how to get rid of a player, courtesy of Jack Kent Cooke. I doubt Favre will get the same treatment.