An interactive visualization of Brett Favre's annual off-season waffling.

The stadium scene.
Aug. 18 2010 3:11 PM

The Brett Favre Retirement Curve

Now updated with the indecesive quarterback's latest unretirement.

Jump to the interactive chart.

In January 2006, Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre said that if he "had to pick right now and make a decision, I'd say I'm not coming back." That was the first of five consecutive seasons in which Favre has insinuated, at one point or another, that he's going to stop playing football. Favre's 2010 faux retirement came on Tuesday, when reports surfaced that he texted his Minnesota Vikings teammates, "This is it." Less than 24 hours later, Favre told ESPN.com's Ed Werder that, of course, this isn't it—he'll play so long as his bum ankle doesn't fail him.

The quarterback's annual waffling—his most likely next moves: a tearful retirement press conference, followed immediately by a tearful unretirement press conference—have left fans and sportscasters confused and aghast. If you scrutinize the last three off-seasons, however, you'll learn that there's a method to Favre's seemingly random noodling. Introducing the Brett Favre Retirement Curve, an indispensible tool for analyzing and predicting the arc of the quarterback's yearly will-he-or-won't-he charade.

In the chart below, we have plotted key Favre news items from the 2008, 2009, and 2010 off-seasons, assigning each one a subjective indecision value. (Click the tabs at the top of the graphic to toggle between viewing each year independently and looking at all the data at once. You can also mouse over each point to read the associated headline.) We've then done our best to identify a pattern, sketching a curve that best fits each year's Favre-ian rollercoaster of hemming and hawing. As you'll see, each curve has at least two valleys—he's retiring!—and two peaks—he's coming back! Also notable: The endpoint of the Favre Retirement Curve has been creeping to the right each year, as the elderly QB takes longer and longer to make up his mind.

Update, Aug. 18, 2010: Wednesday's news that Favre is now practicing with the Minnesota Vikings brings the 2010 retirement curve to its logical endpoint. In the end, this year's graph looks remarkably similar to last year's version. So similar, in fact, that Favre's 2010 return comes on the exact same date, Aug. 18, on which he first signed with the Vikings in 2009.

Advertisement

 

Like Slate on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

Josh Levin is Slate's executive editor.

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Republicans Like Scott Walker Are Building Campaigns Around Problems That Don’t Exist

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

The World

Iran and the U.S. Are Allies

They just aren’t ready to admit it yet.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

A No-Brainer Approach to Fighting Poverty: Better Birth Control

  News & Politics
The World
Sept. 16 2014 11:56 AM Iran and the U.S. Are Allies Against ISIS but Aren’t Ready to Admit It Yet
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 16 2014 1:23 PM Germany Has Asked Google to Reveal Its Search Algorithm, but That's Not Going to Happen
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 1:27 PM The Veronica Mars Spinoff Is Just Amusing Enough to Keep Me Watching
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 1:41 PM You Can Play the Original Doom on a Hacked Canon Printer
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 16 2014 1:39 PM The Case of the Missing Cerebellum How did a Chinese woman live 24 years missing part of her brain?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.