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Sam Farmer / ON THE NFL

It could be a new Bay for Favre

August 06, 2008|Sam Farmer

With the Green Bay Packers moving forward without Brett Favre, Tampa Bay has emerged as the star quarterback's destination du jour.

Favre has been angling to play for Minnesota, but the Packers are doing everything they can to keep him out of the NFC North. Tampa Bay appears to be the only trade option amenable to both the Packers and Favre. The Vikings aren't completely out of the picture, however, should they offer considerably more than Tampa Bay.

In a news conference Tuesday evening, Green Bay Coach Mike McCarthy said Favre is not in the proper mind-set to play for the Packers, something the quarterback said earlier in the day.

Meanwhile, the pressure has been cranked up tenfold on new starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

It was Rodgers who was promised the starting job after Favre retired in March, and -- barring another bizarre twist -- it will be Rodgers under the microscope when the Packers play host to the Minnesota Vikings in an opening-weekend "Monday Night Football" game.

Rodgers has been mostly mum on the situation. But few people understand the difficulty of following in the footsteps of a legendary quarterback the way Steve Young does.

He replaced Joe Montana with the San Francisco 49ers and established his own Hall of Fame career -- but not without enduring the criticism and challenges that Rodgers undoubtedly will face.

"For Aaron it's very similar in that he's got to go carve out a career for himself," Young said Tuesday in a phone interview. "Everything that he ever does will be in the framework of what Brett did.

"You either have to decide that I'm going to embrace every ounce of challenge in this, or Aaron Rodgers needs to ask to be traded.

"If you're going to begrudge it and play the victim in any way, shape or form, look for some kind of built-in excuse or any woe is me of any kind, you're done with. That will kill you.

"You've got to turn it to your advantage in a way that pushes you constantly. . . . It doesn't go away. But at some point I decided it was a positive. After a while, I didn't want to find out how good Joe Montana was. I flipped it. What you want to do is find out how good you are."

Young, who unlike Rodgers had vast professional experience when he served as a backup, replaced an injured Montana for the 1991 season and overcame a slow start to finish with the NFL's best passer rating.

With Montana peering over his shoulder, Young held onto the job in 1992. And before the 1993 season, Montana was traded to Kansas City. The following year, Young led the 49ers to their fifth Super Bowl championship.

Asked if he remembers any negative comments or unfair critiques when he first replaced Montana, Young laughed.

"I'm trying to think of a time that it didn't happen," he said.

"It's difficult at every level, from your teammates to fans to the media."

But he added: "In some ways, because of the way this has gone down with Brett's indecisiveness, actually I think it plays to Aaron's favor. Without taking a snap, he's built a little fort.

"Now it can get knocked down pretty quick, but he's got a little fort where he might get a little space."

A quick refresher on what's happened in the last couple of days:

After being reinstated by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Sunday, Favre flew to Green Bay where he was to rejoin the team.

He turned down a $20-million-plus offer by the Packers to stay retired.

Favre was supposed to meet for about 90 minutes Sunday night with McCarthy, after which McCarthy had scheduled a nighttime news conference to divulge the outcome.

Instead, the meeting lasted 5 1/2 hours and ended with Favre worlds away from rejoining the team.

On Tuesday, Favre told ESPN that he and the team were at "a stalemate" and that he believes the "best thing for this team is for us to part ways."

Favre reportedly left Lambeau Field before the Packers took the field for their afternoon practice.

It could be that the next time his old Packers teammates see him will be on Sept. 28 . . .

. . . when Green Bay plays at Tampa Bay.

--

sam.farmer@latimes.com

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