NFL Nation: James 'Bus' Cook

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
 
 AP Photo/Mike Roemer
 It may have been better for the Packers organization if Mark Murphy had forced an end to the Brett Favre saga sooner.

A former Green Bay Packers official, who now runs The National Football Post, has an interesting take about how the Brett Favre trade played out inside the team's offices at Lambeau Field.

The Packers' long-standing mantra, writes former contract negotiator Andrew Brandt, calls for the team's president, executive committee and board of directors to "support and stay out of the way of football operations."

Therefore, Brandt writes, "the trade of Brett Favre was a decision made the same way every decision regarding the player product is made in Green Bay: Independent of any administrative or managerial meddling."

This approach is almost always preferable to the alternative: An owner inserting himself into the football process, regardless of his professional expertise or skills. In Green Bay, general manager Ted Thompson essentially has full autonomy to pick players and hire a staff, which includes coach Mike McCarthy.

The Favre situation, however, might have been a rare exception to this rule. I've had a number of people suggest that the Packers' standoff with Favre transcended football. Indeed, it could potentially affect all areas of the Packers' operations -- including ticket sales, branding, marketing and legacy.

For that reason, there are many NFL observers who wouldn't have faulted president/CEO Mark Murphy for stepping in more forcefully and, in essence, ordering Thompson to resolve the situation much earlier than he did. While Thompson might have viewed his path as appropriate from a football perspective, it might not have been healthy for the Packers in a larger sense.

Murphy, however, is still in his first year as the franchise's top administrator. As a former player, he is extremely sensitive to an perception that he might intrude on the Packers' football operations. Murphy did travel to Hattiesburg, Miss., to meet with Favre and agent James "Bus" Cook, but afterward he took great pains to insist that no issues of football were discussed. (Reportedly, Murphy was trying to convince Favre to accept a personal services contract to remain retired.)

The reality is Murphy had no way out of the box. Stepping in, or "meddling," would have violated the apparently sacred trust between the Packers' football and business sides. But allowing the football side to direct the process risked damage to the franchise as a whole. There was no good choice.

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It is now clear that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will do everything in his power to prevent retired quarterback Brett Favre from forcing his way back onto the Green Bay Packers' roster.

Nothing good would come for Goodell's league if a Hall of Fame quarterback and his former team carry their increasingly bitter fight onto the practice field -- and on the weekend of the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement, no less.

Only Goodell stood in the way of Favre boarding a private jet Thursday afternoon and heading to Green Bay for an in-person showdown with the Packers. While the aircraft waited at a regional airport near Favre's home in Hattiesburg, Miss., Goodell decided against acting on Favre's reinstatement request for the second consecutive day.

"He's ready to go back," agent James "Bus" Cook told the Associated Press. "But he can't go back until the commissioner reinstates him."

Goodell is hoping -- perhaps blindly -- that Favre and the Packers can work out a compromise that prevents an ugly public spectacle. Unfortunately for both sides, there isn't much middle ground between what Favre wants (a release) and what the Packers are hoping for (a renewed commitment to retire). A trade continues to be the only viable option. But thus far, Favre hasn't been willing to consider the options Green Bay has presented, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

That hasn't stopped the Packers from trying, however. The Green Bay Press-Gazette reported Thursday evening that talks were continuing with the New York Jets. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, meanwhile, suggested the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' interest currently trumps that of the Jets. The Journal Sentinel also has reported the Packers would consider trading Favre to the Minnesota Vikings or Chicago Bears.

Barring a quick deal, Goodell eventually will have to act on the request or face a potential confrontation with the NFL Players Association. But for now, like the fan who keeps watching with his team down 48-0, Goodell is hoping for a miracle comeback.

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Wednesday might have been the most bizarre day yet in the standoff between the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Brett Favre.

The day began with team president Mark Murphy in Hattiesburg, Miss., where he met with Favre and agent Bus Cook in an attempt to resolve the issue. Because Murphy and Cook continued their meeting until late in the afternoon, there was some external optimism that a deal was near.

Instead, Cook emerged from the meeting and said it was very possible that Favre could crash the Packers' training camp this week. Murphy later issued a statement that addressed no details and made clear he had engaged only in non-football discussions with Favre, apparently to dismiss the possibility that he had usurped the role of general manager Ted Thompson.

Thompson was probably glad to have his name removed from the public discussion, because things really got interesting as the night wore on. As the Packers went through a 2 1/2 hour practice, reports began emerging that Murphy and the Packers had attempted to buy off Favre in a last-ditch attempt to keep him away from training camp.

A Milwaukee television station reported the Packers had offered Favre about $20 million over the next 10 years to remain retired. The Green Bay Press-Gazette offered a similar report, although it did not name the dollar amount. If true, the reports revealed a startling lack of lack of insight into Favre's makeup and what he is looking for.

Meanwhile, a Green Bay television station interviewed a local psychic who "saw" Favre wearing a white uniform with a blue stripe. She also saw him suffering a serious injury on the field. Take it for what you will.

Today's events leave us with the possibility of a Friday showdown.

The Packers have no practice scheduled Thursday. They will have some conditioning work and later will listen to former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer speak about media relations. Coach Mike McCarthy insisted Fleischer was booked long ago.

Commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to act on Favre's reinstatement request Thursday, likely after speaking with Favre personally. If he is reinstated, Favre will have to decide whether to show up at the Packers' training camp Friday for a physical and conditioning test. It is the Packers' nightmare scenario, and now it could be 24 hours away.

McCarthy, who was not involved in the planning of Murphy's trip, has held up well during the ordeal, but even he drew a line Wednesday night.

"It's to the point where I think it's better for myself and better for the football team: It's time for me to coach the football team," McCarthy said. "I can't concern myself with the day-to-day, blow-by-blow of things that go on outside of the preparation of the team. So if he comes in here, he'll be one of 80 and I will coach him accordingly."

Unbelievably, it looks like McCarthy will have to do just that.

Lastly, ESPN's Wendi Nix and Chris Mortensen provide their take on the situation.

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- There are no indications that the Green Bay Packers reached a truce Wednesday with quarterback Brett Favre, setting up -- at least for now -- a Friday showdown between the sides.

Packers president Mark Murphy departed a day-long meeting with Favre and his agent without commenting to reporters. Agent James "Bus" Cook, meanwhile, said Favre still wants to be the Packers' quarterback but indicated the team hasn't budged from its position that Aaron Rodgers is the starter.

"He would love to go back to Green Bay," Cook told reporters in Hattiesburg, Miss. "That's why he started working out. But right now it looks like he'll be the quarterback at Oak Grove [Miss.] High School."

Favre worked out at Oak Grove as recently as Wednesday morning. If NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reinstates him Thursday, Favre could be in Green Bay as early as Friday.

"We're going to do whatever Brett wants to do," Cook said. "And right now his intention is to go back to Green Bay and play football."

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has delayed action on retired quarterback Brett Favre's reinstatement request in order to give both him and the Green Bay Packers "an appropriate amount of time to make decisions," according to a statement released by the league Wednesday.

The delay, combined with news of an all-day meeting between Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy and agent James "Bus" Cook, has raised some hope of a pending resolution to the months-long standoff between Favre and the team. Favre participated in a portion of the meeting but left around 12:30 p.m. CT.

According to media reports in Mississippi, Cook and Murphy were still meeting as of mid-afternoon.

At this point, it's not clear how much common ground the sides will find but we'll keep you updated as more information becomes available. The Packers' primary goal is to avoid the circus atmosphere that would follow if Favre reported to training camp this week.

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- We're heading out soon for what promises to be another interesting day at Green Bay Packers training camp. Team president Mark Murphy has a meeting scheduled for Wednesday morning with quarterback Brett Favre and agent James "Bus" Cook in Hattiesburg, Miss., while NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to rule on Favre's reinstatement request.

The Packers are hoping it never comes to the point where Favre feels compelled to report to camp, but it seems the earliest that circus could begin is Friday. (The Packers have no practice Thursday).

Wednesday morning's practice will last until about 10:45 a.m. CT, and then we'll head to the Packers' locker room for interviews before jumping back on the blog. Until then, a quick jaunt around the division:

  • Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette pleads with the Packers to do whatever it takes to keep Favre from reporting. "A civil war involving the only publicly owned franchise in pro sports would break out," he writes. (The war analogy might take it a bit further than reality, but it's fair to say that Favre's presence in camp wouldn't be conducive to traditional team-building.)
  • Most players expressed neutral feelings about Favre's potential return, but receiver Donald Driver's were a bit stronger. "My love for him is different than any other guy in the locker room," Driver told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I'm glad he signed the papers and decided to come back for another year." (Driver was speaking before Murphy boarded the plane in an attempt to convince Favre otherwise).
  • Chicago Bears center Olin Kreutz practiced Tuesday for the first time this summer after his sore Achilles tendon was deemed sufficiently healed.
  • Minnesota Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson is still trying to learn when to throw the ball away. "That is the biggest thing I have to get over," Jackson said. "I can't save every play. Once I get that down, I think I will be OK." Jackson threw several interceptions in Tuesday morning's practice.
  • During a film session, Detroit Lions coach Rod Marinelli repeatedly showed a clip of fullback Jerome Felton knocking the helmet off linebacker Buster Davis during a block.

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