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Sam Farmer / ON THE NFL

Favre story sure feels familiar

July 04, 2008|Sam Farmer

A report surfaced this week that quarterback Brett Favre is flirting with the idea of coming out of retirement. Suddenly, somehow, that's big news.

It's also old news. On April 4, The Times reported that Favre's agent, Bus Cook, had put out feelers with teams other than Green Bay to gauge their interest in trading for the future Hall of Fame quarterback. And Cook responded by telling ESPN the report was "absolutely false."

But in the weeks following The Times' report, Favre hinted broadly that he hadn't completely closed the door on his career.

Then, on Wednesday, ESPN issued an un-retirement story of its own, citing sources close to the Packers and the player who say that Favre has "an itch" to return when Green Bay opens training camp later this month.

If Favre scratches that itch, here's real news: It probably won't be with Green Bay.

The Packers have moved on. They have handed the reins of the offense to Aaron Rodgers, selected two promising young quarterbacks in the draft, and even dismantled Favre's locker, giving it to him as a memento of his storied career.

Bringing Favre back would not only mean paying him $12 million in base salary -- guaranteed if he's on the roster on the first day of training camp -- but derailing the capable Rodgers, who has patiently waited in the long shadow of one of the greatest quarterbacks the NFL has ever known.

What's more, when Cook approached those other teams this spring, he told them that Favre was disappointed the Packers didn't make more of an effort to talk him out of retiring. The quarterback's mother said as much to a Milwaukee TV station this week.

"He felt like that the last couple of years, that the Packers didn't really want him back," Bonita Favre told WITI-TV. ". . . You know, it's just been bits and pieces throughout the last couple of years, things would come up, and it just didn't seem like they went out of their way to keep him. It was kind of like, 'You're done.' "

Meanwhile, Favre's brother told a Milwaukee station that he can envision No. 4 playing for another franchise if the Packers don't want him back.

"I don't see why not," Scott Favre told WTMJ-TV this week. "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."

Scott Favre put the chances of his brother coming out of retirement at 50/50.

"There's no doubt he can play," he said. "He's in good shape. He's working out. . . . He's healthy, so, if he did, it wouldn't surprise me."

As it stands, there's no graceful way for Favre to return. If he comes back to Green Bay, he's stepping on Rodgers. If the Packers trade Favre, General Manager Ted Thompson is forever the guy who moved Babe Ruth.

Cut Favre loose, and there's a chance he'll wind up in a place such as Tampa Bay or Carolina -- or with one of the Packers' bitter rivals, such as Minnesota or Chicago.

Favre has issued a vague denial of the latest report.

"It's all rumor," he told the Mississippi Sun Herald.

Then again, who could have dreamed Joe Montana would finish his career with Kansas City, Franco Harris would end his in Seattle, Johnny Unitas in San Diego.

But Favre? The greatest Packers icon this side of Vince Lombardi? Oh yes, Lombardi. He ended his career as coach of the Washington Redskins.

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sam.farmer@latimes.com

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