Favre-Packers feud on hold (for a night)

July, 20, 2008
7/20/08
8:23
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

GREEN BAY, WIS. -- Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers ignored the rush Saturday night and stared downfield as if they had all the time in the world.

Favre's return to Lambeau Field wasn't surreal. It wasn't awkward. It wasn't ironic, even as Favre walked through the Packers locker room and stood on the same stage from which he made his emotional retirement announcement.

The only tension emanated from a slew of reporters gathered to document any slip-up, veiled shot or outright criticism that might come from Favre or a Packers official. No one came close. In fact, it was as if Lambeau were packed in a time capsule and insulated from worldly events.

Favre spoke publicly three times -- at a news conference, then to accept the Packers Hall of Fame MVP award, and finally to introduce inductee Frank Winters -- and never referenced his standoff with the organization. Winters touched on it only briefly in his acceptance speech, thanking Favre for showing up during "a tough time."

General manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy reportedly were in the crowd but they were out of sight to the media. Former Packers player Larry McCarren, who served as the emcee of the banquet, asked that the night be reserved for inductees Gilbert Brown, Al Treml and Winters. McCarren noted that "there are bigger problems in the world than the one the Packers Nation is wrestling with now."

Favre, who has been known to meander from topic to topic while speaking in public, kept to the script Saturday night.

"Frank asked me a couple months ago if I would do this," Favre said, "and I was honored. ... It was a privilege and an honor to play with Gilbert and Frank and work with Al. And I congratulate you. As a roommate and friend, they don't come any better than Frank."

At $125 per plate, the paying customers tonight were among the Packers' most loyal fans. They gave Favre a standing ovation at the banquet, one that appeared to take him aback. A few shouted individual messages of support.

Many reflected the torn feelings of former Packers guard Marco Rivera, who was among the former players in attendance.

"I understand where both sides are coming from," Rivera said. "I understand the position that Brett Favre is coming from. I understand the position the Packers are in. It's tough when you played football for so long to walk away. I had to walk away for [back] injuries. It was tough for me to put the TV on and watch football. I understand both situations and I hope something can be resolved, but it's up to both parties.

"I really don't know what they're going to do. But at some point I think they'll get past this."

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