I know, I know, you're sick of Brett Favre. You're a fan, so you ingest so much sports news, information, gossip and statistical minutia that you grow weary of stories before they've completed the 24-hour news cycle, and here's the latest Favre saga, playing on an endless loop like "It's a Wonderful Life" at Christmas.

While it's true Favre has been listed by Homeland Security as an Emotional Terrorist, and it's true that the guy is a serial texter, cries more often than Dick Vermeil and has become a bigger pain in the butt than Roger Clemens' favorite syringe, there is also this:

The Packers are nuts not to want him back.

Green Bay General Manager Ted Thompson keeps treating Favre like a stalker. There is a reason for this: Favre is a stalker.

He's also a healthy, fit, Hall of Fame quarterback coming off one of his best seasons. Spurning Favre in favor of Aaron Rodgers is like selling your NFL franchise to buy a newspaper chain. One is a guaranteed success. The other might not be around in three years.

If you identify yourself as anything other than a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan, you probably greeted the rumors of Brett Favre mulling the end of his retirement with disbelief.

You probably lumped him into the same category as Roger Clemens, Michael Jordan and every boxer who ever lived, as a guy who just couldn't fulfill his promises of spending more time with his family, especially if his family didn't happen to be on an expensive golf course or in a Vegas casino.

This is understandable. Favre cried at his retirement press conference four months ago, after years of debating whether to keep playing and keeping his teammates and the Packers front office frozen in uncertainty. That should be in the Constitution -- if you cry when you announce your retirement, you can't come back without a note from Bill Parcells.

If you look at this emotionally, you have to be rooting for Favre to stay retired, so we won't have to go through all of this again next year. And the next. And so on.

Remove emotions, look at the numbers and the history of the poor saps who have replaced legendary quarterbacks, and the picture changes. Let's evaluate Favre's possible return not as the cry for help, flip-flop or character flaw it certainly is, but in terms of production.

Favre played great last year. He's 38, which is old for an NFL player, but this is a unique NFL player, one who hasn't missed a game since, oh, ever.

In 2008, Favre completed 66.5 percent of his passes (his highest total ever), for 4,155 yards (his highest total since 1998), only 15 interceptions (he hadn't thrown fewer since '96) and only 93 sack yards (tied for his lowest total ever).

That is not the résumé of someone who has grown old and immobile.

Now let's look at Favre's possible return in terms of the driving force of NFL popularity -- TV ratings. The NFL is the most popular sporting entity of all time because it is the perfect TV sport, and Favre is the perfect TV attraction.

You've heard the phrase "He puts butts in the seats"? Favre puts butts on couches, all over North America.

And whether you like him, hate him, or want to get a class-action restraining order that would keep him 500 yards from Wisconsin, there are few moments in sport that compare with being in Lambeau Field when it's snowing, the light is dying, and Favre is leading a comeback.

A recent Sports Illustrated featured Favre's replacement, Aaron Rodgers, as the latest prospect to attempt to replace an NFL quarterbacking legend. Other names on that list are instructive -- Cliff Stoudt (who succeeded Terry Bradshaw), Danny White (Roger Staubach), Marty Domres (Johnny Unitas), Richard Todd (Joe Namath), Brian Griese (John Elway), Scott Hunter (Bart Starr) and Jay Fiedler (Dan Marino).

Maybe Rodgers will become a great NFL quarterback. But probably not. More likely, he would soon make even those Packers fans sick of Brett Favre clamor for ... Brett Favre.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon on AM-1500 KSTP. jsouhan@startribune.com