The grumbling and groaning once the Brett Favre rumours start each offseason is instinctive now, but we’re all prepared for it. We know they’re coming, and for football fans a fifth season has emerged: winter, spring, Favre, summer, and fall.

Heck, as much as writers whine about Favre’s yearly flip-flopping ritual, at least we have something to write about in July, which even in a normal year is the tumble weed section of the NFL’s calendar. But now we’ve gone too far.

In a misguided attempt at rumour mongering that was filed under “S” for stupid by the Cat Scratch Reader, Saint Paul Pioneer Press columnist Charley Walters buried this gem near the bottom of his weekend notes column.

Don’t discount the possibility of Brett Favre, who turns 42 in October, returning next season, but not with the Vikings. Maybe Carolina.

We more than understand how stale the NFL news cycle has become. We live it, and without free agency the league is in purgatory, making the smallest morsel of news almost immediately snowball into a viral monstrosity (I wonder if Dez Bryant went shopping today?) . All we have right now is the draft, and as alluring and entertaining as the NFL’s annual spring spectacle is, even the most obsessed draftniks need a break from re-working their mock draft for the ninth time. But there’s still no way to justify pushing the start button on the Favre rumour mill in late March.

To be fair, Walters is just passing along a stray thought as part of a notes column, and he likely didn’t intend for it to be the stick of dynamite igniting the latest round of nauseating Favre talk. But dropping Favre’s name in the same sentence as the word “returning” always has that potential.

There are a handful of teams heading into the draft needing to address the quarterback position, and a decomposing (merely writing “aging” isn’t sufficient anymore) Favre isn’t the answer for any of them. The Panthers have a number of needs with their first overall pick, ranging from help in the front seven to, yes, the quarterback. They may choose to re-stock their mediocre run defence with a gap filler like Marcell Dareus, or bolster an already strong secondary by making Patrick Peterson the first cornerback selected with the top pick.

If the Panthers are ready to abort the Jimmy Clausen experiment, it’ll be either Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton under centre whenever football is played again. A 42-year-old quarterback bent on throwing interceptions and drawing attention was an acceptable risk for a team with plenty of other offensive weapons in Minnesota. But Favre has no place on a young, re-building team that won’t be winning in the near future anyway.

Thankfully Darin Gantt of the Rock Hill Herald shot Walters’ mind trip down in a hurry, with his Panthers sources confirming that Favre won’t be their next quarterback. Now, can we please just get back to writing lockout stories?