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Favre family takes over on offense

7/3/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

By all accounts, pretty much everyone in the Packers organization is on vacation right now. But something tells me GM Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy have heard and discussed Wednesday's ESPN report that quarterback Brett Favre has the "itch" to play again.

As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, Favre is dismissing the report as "rumor," but his family members have been singing a different tune. His brother, Scott, told WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee that he thinks there's a "50-50" chance Favre will play next season.

Asked whether his brother would play for another team if the Packers chose to go in a different direction, Scott said, "I don't see why not. I'm sure
plenty of other teams would want him. If the Packers decide it's time
to move on, it's time for Brett to move on, if that's the case."

Meanwhile, Favre's longtime agent, Bus Cook, isn't saying anything of substance publicly. And there's really no reason to when Favre's brother and mother, Bonita, are doing all the talking. If Favre wanted all this to go away, don't you think he'd instruct family members not to pick up the phone?

In early April, the Los Angeles Times had a report that Cook had quietly inquired with teams about their interest in trading for Favre. Cook denied the report, telling the LA Times that Favre was "retired, period, point blank."

Now it's not looking so "point blank," whatever that means. The Favre camp shot down that April report, but it seems to be fueling the latest comeback story.

If Favre truly wants to return, he's about to put Thompson in the toughest spot of his career. Favre's legion of fans in Wisconsin and other outposts will accurately point out that he gives the team the best chance at a Super Bowl in 2008.

If Thompson refuses to reactivate Favre, he's risking a huge backlash. But in the Packers defense, this "will he or won't he?" has hung over the franchise for years. The team has moved forward with former first-round draft choice Aaron Rodgers and two rookie quarterbacks.

Sources with the team are telling Chris Mortensen they'd be reluctant about a return because "Brett retired for the right reasons."

That's a diplomatic way of saying "we've moved on without him."

Through comments from Cook in the past and Favre's family members Wednesday, there's still a sense that the Packers didn't do enough to talk the legendary quarterback out of retiring. I hope none of this is catching you off guard. Even as he made his tearful farewell speech, Favre didn't sound like a man who was finished.

I know that Dan Marino once told Troy Aikman to play as long as he could, and that he would regret walking away from the game early. In Aikman's case, a series of concussions didn't give him much choice. Favre, who was still in peak form last season, has received similar advice from Aikman and John Elway.

It's completely unnatural for Favre to not be preparing for training camp right now. He's going through what almost every retired athlete experiences. He doesn't want to look back the rest of his life and think he left a year or two on the table.

Forcing the Packers' hand in this situation might not be a gracious move on Favre's part, but in his mind, it might beat the alternative.