GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Brett Favre was 31, a three-time NFL MVP and a Super Bowl champion when he signed his last Green Bay Packers contract -- a 10-year, $101 million extension. He became the NFL's first $100 million man, and no one -- least of all himself -- could have imagined he would play ever play for another team.
On the day the deal was announced in 2001, Favre said: "I couldn't envision myself playing with another team. If that was ever to come up, I would probably just retire. I've made enough money that I don't have to jump ship and go anywhere else."
More than 17 years later, another Packers quarterback came to another historic deal that probably should serve as the last one of his multiple-MVP and Super Bowl-winning career. Aaron Rodgers agreed to a new deal on Thursday, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter, that will pay him $67 million before the end of 2018 and more than $80 million before March 17, 2019.
For the 34-year-old Rodgers, it's a deal that should keep him with the Packers for the rest of his career.
With the emphasis on should.
While this deal is long on guaranteed money, it says nothing of how things will end between him and the team that drafted him. Rare is the case when the player can dictate the terms of his own departure. Favre wasn't the first MVP who couldn't leave on his own terms and certainly wasn't the last. Joe Montana didn't, and neither did Peyton Manning. And that was just in Favre's era alone.
The Packers took Favre's exit strategy into their own hands on the day they picked Rodgers at No. 24 in the 2005 draft. Favre was just one year older than Rodgers is now at that time, but his wishy-washy nature about retirement increased the urgency to find an eventual successor. The reality is Favre played six more seasons after Rodgers arrived in Green Bay, and only three of them were a Packers' uniform.
Rodgers has repeatedly expressed his desire to both play into his 40s and finish his career with the Packers.
“Every player would love to be able to pick when and how they finish up,” Rodgers said this offseason. “That usually doesn’t happen, though. So I’m going to try to play as well as I can for a number of years and hopefully it’s here the entire time.”
Whether consciously or subconsciously, Rodgers has been the anti-Favre in so many different ways:
Where Favre forced throws that at times became untimely and often devastating interceptions, Rodgers held the ball, took sacks or threw it away. Favre holds the NFL's record for career interceptions (336), while Rodgers holds the current mark for best touchdown-to-interception ratio (better than 4-to-1).
Where Favre lived his life as an open book -- freely discussing everything from addiction to family tragedy -- Rodgers prefers his private life to be just that.
Where Favre conducted long-lasting, free-flowing press conferences in the media auditorium, Rodgers holds his well-thought-out sessions in front of his locker.
Rodgers, accomplished as he is, could still pull off more greatness -- more MVPs and another Super Bowl or two -- but his legacy as one of the most dominant players in Packers' history is set. However, no matter what this contract says about Rodgers' career or what he accomplishes, there's no telling how things will end.