With news today breaking that Brett Favre may indeed retire this year, it makes you realize the Bills’ stance on Aaron Schobel all the more clearly. While it’s difficult to ascertain exactly what Favre intends to do, or to know for sure if he’s certain himself, it’s this indecision which has caused Buddy Nix and the Bills to react the way they have to Aaron Schobel’s recent intent to continue his playing career.
While it may not be fair to Schobel to compare him to a guy who has been in and out retirement for the past three seasons, there are some parallels to Schobel’s approach to this offseason. I think most everyone in the league has been certain that Favre would return to the Vikings and play for a team that has Super Bowl aspirations. He is coming off a career year statistically, and showed he could still play at a high level. However, Favre is showing the Vikings what a dangerous waiting game they are playing. Without Favre, and without a chance to replace him (goodbye Donovan McNabb), the Vikings’ season is now in doubt.
Schobel has been leaning towards retirement all off-season. The Bills are switching defenses this year to a 3-4, a defense that Schobel has never played in during his NFL tenure. He is an older player on the downside of his career, without as many physical tools as he once had. While he is a talented pass rusher, the Bills could not afford to wait around and hope that Schobel would come back and save their pass rush. The Bills went ahead full tilt with Aaron Maybin as the starter, and with news that Schobel’s interest has been sparked to perhaps come back and play, Buddy Nix did the right thing and announced that Schobel does not have a place on the Bills in 2010.
Veterans like Favre and Schobel may have earned some type of break in terms of the workload that is expected on their aging bodies. However, for these guys to feel like they can eschew training camp because they don’t want to put the work in, and just come back and take their starting spot whenever they feel is not fair to their teams. In Minnesota’s case, waiting for Favre cost them a shot at McNabb, and they have backed themselves into a corner where they have no choice but to wait and hope he has a change in heart.
For the 6-10 Bills, without playoff aspirations, this is a waiting game they don’t have to play. The new regime is setting a tone in camp and won’t allow anyone to undermine them. While maybe announcing Schobel has no spot on the roster hurts what they can bring back in a trade, Nix and the Bills are taking a hard stance and moving this team in the right direction.