Favre seeks unconditional release from Packers, sources say

Updated: July 12, 2008, 2:07 PM ET
By Chris Mortensen | ESPN.com

HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- Three days after a conference call with Packers team officials in which quarterback Brett Favre emphatically expressed his desire to play in 2008, Favre on Friday formally asked by letter for his unconditional contractual release, sources close to Favre and the team said.

The letter was sent by Favre's agent, James "Bus" Cook, via overnight mail on Thursday and arrived at the Packers facility Friday morning.

Cook, on behalf of Favre, expressed a desire to have an amicable parting, as the Packers have been reluctant to embrace his return. Favre announced his retirement in early March.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy weren't available for comment Friday.

In a statement, the Packers said: "Brett earned and exercised the right to retire on his terms. We wanted him to return and welcomed him back on more than one occasion.

"Brett's press conference and subsequent conversations in the following weeks illustrated his commitment to retirement," the news release added. "The finality of his decision to retire was accepted by the organization. At that point, the Green Bay Packers made the commitment to move forward with our football team."

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During a conference call on Tuesday that included Thompson, McCarthy, Favre and Cook, sources say that the quarterback stated emphatically that he wanted to play again.

Favre was reminded by the Packers' brass that he said publicly and privately in March that he wasn't 100 percent committed to football, sources said. Favre acknowledged his state of mind at the time, but added that he never felt he was 100 percent committed in March of previous years, either. Favre felt he had to make a decision to retire because the Packers were pressing him for an answer, a source said.

During the conference call on Tuesday, neither Thompson nor McCarthy was openly receptive or enthused about Favre's desire to unretire, the sources said, prompting Favre to direct Cook to request his release from the team. Favre has three years remaining on his contract at a total of $39 million. He currently is on the reserve-retired list.

Favre prefers a mutual parting rather than have to force the Packers' hand by writing a letter to request his reinstatement to the active 80-man roster. Under league policy, the team would have to comply or release him.

Aaron Rodgers, who will be entering his fourth season with the Packers, is Favre's heir apparent. ESPN.com's Ed Werder interviewed Rogers, who was playing at celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, Friday.

"There's nothing I can tell you about the situation," said Rogers, who refused to comment further.

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Cook's letter did suggest that Favre's accomplishments for the franchise merited the team honoring his request to be released, also asking that the action be taken "with no strings attached." Favre does not want to be traded, sources said, because he wants the freedom of choice to play for another franchise.

Favre has been in communication with McCarthy during the past month about his desire to play but until this week had not spoken with Thompson.

Favre did not wish to speak publicly about his situation when approached while working out Friday morning at a local high school in Hattiesburg. He appeared to be in excellent physical condition and threw the ball with ease, even throwing it 50 yards "on a rope" with high school receivers. He has been throwing and running with the team for more than a month.

Favre was relaxed and in a positive frame of mind, joking and telling stories about himself, former teammates and coaches. He planned to continue working out next week.

Chris Mortensen covers the NFL for ESPN. ESPN.com's Ed Werder contributed to this report.

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