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The Favre interview: Word for word

7/14/2008



Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Hot off the presses: Below is a transcript of Brett Favre's interview Monday with Greta Van Susteren of Fox News. The upshot: Favre said he is guilty of one thing: Retiring early. But when he realized his mistake, the Packers told him it was too late. The Packers, Favre said, told him they had moved on, but didn't envision him playing for another team. Finally, he suggested the team should tell the public the same thing.

There is a Part II, and it's scheduled to be aired Tuesday night.

Greta Van Susteren: Why did you retire so early?

Brett Favre: Well, I'm sure that a lot of people out there, of course there has been a lot of things said, and this is the first time I've talked. But one of the things from what I understand is that people are saying that Brett retired because the Packers or [General Manager] Ted Thompson didn't ask me back. That's totally untrue. They wanted an answer before free agency/draft. [Coach] Mike McCarthy called every week, after about a two or three-week grace period after the season. Mike would call, 'Hey, how are things going? Where are you at with your decision?'

I said, 'Boy Mike, I'm kind of burned out right now and I just need some time.' I said, 'Boy it would be nice if I could wait until training camp.'

Well, [McCarthy said], 'We have a different direction we need to go in if you're not going to be here.' Which is fine, I totally understand that. But I was not ready to totally commit. The bottom line, and I said that in my press conference, regardless of what people think, the bottom line, on March 3, when I got in front of the podium, did I want to play? Yes. One hundred percent? No. I think people who have followed my career, people who know me closely, I won't play if I'm not 100 percent committed.

I could have easily said, 'You know what? I'll take the money. I'll come back. And hopefully, I'll get committed somewhere either before, during training camp or during the season. No one will know.' But that's not me. So on March 3, when I got in front of the podium, and one of the things I said, Greta, is, 'I know I can still play, but at this time, I don't think I want to.' And sort of left the door open, but they wanted an answer. Am I mad at them for that? No. I think that's what needs to be cleared up. It's, hey, you wanted an answer, I gave you the honest answer at that time, as opposed to lying to you and saying, 'Oh yeah, I'll come back, and giving you not what's expected of me, and that's 100 percent effort.'

GVS: I take it you like being a Packer.

BF: I can't imagine being with anyone else, or haven't envisioned being with someone else. That has always been my focus. As I said then, I will say now, really as I've said my whole career, playing in Green Bay is ... there is nothing like it. There is nothing like that. It's one of those things, it was destiny. A kid from south Mississippi, a lot like Bart Starr. Who would have ever thought that I would go to Green Bay and have the career I had?

And it's unfortunate that it's come to this. I'm sure there are a lot of fans that are thinking, from what they've heard, that Brett is a traitor, he wants to go play elsewhere. That's not true. I was told that playing in Green Bay was not an option. Regardless of what you hear from up there. I'm not making it up. I was told that playing in Green Bay was not an option. Then I was told that we can't envision you playing for another team as well.

What does that tell me? It tells me, 'We don't want you playing, period.'

GVS: Have you signed any official retirement papers?

BF: No, I have not signed any official papers.

GVS: So this is no great surprise to them that you sometimes have second thoughts?

BF: No, it's not a surprise. And you know, I understand how the public is. It's kind of like, 'Make up your mind already.' But, there's no way that I could expect them to understand what I'm going through.

GVS: What are you going through at this point?

BF: To be totally honest with you, and to simplify it as easy as I can, I think if you were to poll players who played as long as me or almost as long as me, if you said, 'Come March, whether your intentions are to come back or they are wishy-washy or whatever in March, are you committed one way or the other?' They are going to tell you no.

GVS: Did you talk to coach McCarthy or did you text message him?

BF: Talked to him on June 20 and that was it.

GVS: And said what?

BF: Well, it was small talk for a while. I said, 'Mike, I'm thinking about coming back. I've been working out at the high school.' I said, 'That was a big hurdle for me to get over. Don't want to get up in the morning and go run and throw.' Which I did this morning. And I feel good. I said, 'You know, I have to admit, I'm thinking about it. What's your take on it? If I'm going to play, it's going to be in Green Bay.' But I need to find out what their take was.

And he, oh, I could just see him. He is, 'Aw, Brett, this is ... We've moved on.' And I said, 'Moved on?' And he said, 'Yeah, we've moved on. I had to tell the team something. You told me you were not 100 percent committed, not only when you retired but several weeks after when we were talking about coming down there, when we had that conversation. You said you were not 100 percent committed.' And I said, 'You're right. You're absolutely right.' And it was a good conversation. We've always had good communication, the two of us.

And I said, 'You're right. I totally agree. I was not 100 percent committed.' And I said, 'But you guys wanted an answer in March, and I gave you the honest answer.' And I said, 'If I had been able to wait until training camp, that would have been great.' And he said, 'Well, why didn't you tell me that? We would have let you do it.' And I told myself, well, you told me before the draft/free agency -- and you ended up drafting two kids in the draft -- and that kind of tells you ...

GVS: Two quarterbacks?

BF: Two quarterbacks. And once again, that's OK. That's fine. All I was asking on June 20 was, 'OK, you guys have a different path, fine. What does that mean for me?' So I say, 'That means you either give me my helmet, welcome back, you release me, or you attempt to trade me.' We all know that's a possibility but a way-out-there possibility. And he says, 'Well, playing here is not an option, but we can't envision you playing with another team, either.'

And I thought, 'So basically I'm not playing for anyone if I choose to come back.' I understand. I am guilty of one thing, and that's retiring early, and I have an answer for that and have spoke on that. And I knew I would have second thoughts. And I think Mike has even made the comment that, 'I knew Brett would go through this. I knew he would have these second thoughts.'

Well, I am. So you're telling me that playing the
re is not an option, but playing elsewhere, we're trying to protect your legacy? Well, thank you, I appreciate that. But apparently now, they want to protect my legacy by bringing me back and having me be a backup. Boy, that is really good.

GVS: Are you physically ready to play football?

BF: Yeah. I've been pretty fortunate. Aside from 38, I know during this whole ordeal, especially on that June 20 conversation when Mike and I talked about coming back. He said, 'You know, when I was in Kansas City we traded for Joe Montana and he wasn't the same, you know? You've got to worry about that.' ... I think Joe went there and played quite well.

And believe me, I've thought of all those things. And when they sent [Packers assistant coach] James Campen down here to [tell me] 'you've got to think about moving your family to another city. Are you well aware of what that means? The fan reaction? There are going to be some people calling you a traitor?' Yeah. The bottom line on all of this is I may not play anywhere. But we have thought of all those things. We have thought about it.

GVS: It's interesting that management is worried about you having a rough time, supposedly.

BF: I appreciate them thinking of me, yeah.

GVS: I take it you're a big boy and can handle all of this?

BF: I would hope so. And I keep going back and talking with people. I am guilty of retiring early. There is a reason for that. The major issue is, 'Why did he retire?' He asked for his release because he doesn't want to play in Green Bay. That's not true. And I hope that the people are hearing this and say, 'OK, that clears it up.'

There are going to be some people who say, 'So what?' And once again, them moving on does not bother me. It doesn't. I totally understand that. By me retiring March 3, I knew that that could possibly happen. All I was saying was, 'You know, I'm thinking about playing again.' The 'itch' has been used. That's been the word that's been used. If you want to say itch or the fire has come back or whatever, if I'm going to play it's going to be 100 percent commitment, and it's not going to be in March. And so, if you've moved on, you tell me one thing. Don't come back and tell the public ... just say, 'We've moved on. We'll work with Brett on whatever it is.' Don't make up a lot of stuff or give half of the truth and say we want to let you be the backup and he's got to understand and all this. I mean it's ridiculous. It really is.