Packers mull delaying Favre's jersey retirement as shareholders meet

Updated: July 25, 2008, 9:28 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy acknowledged Thursday that Brett Favre's jersey retirement ceremony might have to be postponed.

The Packers had scheduled a ceremony to retire Favre's jersey in conjunction with the Sept. 8 season opener against Minnesota at Lambeau Field.

[Favre] will always be remembered as one of the finest players ever to play this game. We want to be fair to Brett, but we also must act in the best interest of the Packers.

--Packers CEO Mark Murphy

But with Favre's retirement up in the air, it appears likely that the Packers might have to put off retiring the three-time MVP's jersey.

"We have not made a decision yet on whether to cancel it," Murphy said, after the Packers' annual shareholders meeting at Lambeau. "But we're coming up to a point where we're going to have to make a decision pretty quickly."

But Murphy said any delay would only be temporary.

"We're going to retire Brett's number at some point," Murphy said. "Regardless of whether it's this year, it'll be sometime in the future. We'll wait and see, but I think it's still enough up in the air that we want to wait and see how things play out."

In other developments Thursday, Green Bay's shareholders' meeting at Lambeau Field drew plenty of No. 4 jerseys in the stands and a smattering of jeers for general manager Ted Thompson.

The meeting, however, hardly turned into a bring-back-Favre rally.

Most of the 9,375 shareholders attending the meeting pleasantly applauded Thompson and Murphy before giving a raucous standing ovation to head coach Mike McCarthy. The reaction seemed to indicate that many of the fans who own a tiny stake in the team they love are backing the front office in its ongoing standoff with the semiretired franchise quarterback.

The quarterback asked to be released from his contract earlier this month after his sudden desire to unretire was met with lukewarm enthusiasm from the Packers, who committed to moving forward after Favre said a tearful goodbye in March. The Packers have said they have no plans to release Favre -- they hold his rights until his contract expires after the 2010 season -- but haven't commented publicly on a potential trade.

"Quite a few people look at the situation and say, 'Boy, that's really a tough one,'" Murphy said after the meeting. "You know, you've got an iconic player [who] has meant so much to the team. But with all the circumstances, the organization moved on after he retired. So I think people realize that it's a pretty delicate, sensitive situation and we're trying to handle it the best we can."

Murphy also hinted at the possibility of Favre playing for another team by conjuring the image of Joe Montana in a Kansas City Chiefs uniform on Thursday.

"We want to have positive feelings about Brett and the Packers, and we want him to continue to be a part of the Packer family," Murphy said. "I think the way this is handled will be important in terms of how that plays out in the future. But I'm also cognizant of some of the things that have happened in the past with Joe Montana ending his career with the Chiefs, now you look back on it, most people might not remember that he played with the Chiefs. They remember he was a 49er."

The Packers are the NFL's only publicly owned franchise. Shareholders vote for the team's board of directors, but don't earn dividends or get a direct say in the team's day-to-day operations.

The team's 112,000-plus shareholders are entitled to gather at Lambeau once a year to receive football and financial reports from the team's leaders. Murphy, a former NFL player who took over for longtime Packers top executive Bob Harlan in January, addressed the Favre situation in his opening remarks.

"We are all in unison, and are very supportive of the way Ted and Mike have handled this situation," Murphy told the crowd, drawing applause along with a boo or two.

"Brett has obviously meant so much to the Packers and the NFL," Murphy continued. "He will always be remembered as one of the finest players ever to play this game. We want to be fair to Brett, but we also must act in the best interest of the Packers."

Murphy said he wanted to turn the situation into a positive for Favre, the team and the fans -- causing a lone woman in the crowd to shout, "Bring him back!" -- then introduced Thompson.

"We are family here," Thompson said. "Families sometimes disagree. But they still remain family. We will always be part of the family, and I'm honored to be part of the Packer family."

After pausing briefly for applause, Thompson continued.

"This has been a difficult time for all of us, for everyone who cares about the Green Bay Packers," Thompson said. "This is a very complicated matter that we will continue to work through."

While the team generally appears to have support from its fans, there were a handful of awkward moments Thursday. As Murphy mingled with shareholders, a man sporting a Favre jersey and a ponytail began bellowing, "Bring Brett back!"

A few others picked up Appleton, Wis., native Shane Keddell's chant, but it died out after about a minute as Murphy continued to sign autographs.

Thompson also mingled with shareholders after the meeting. Most offered words of encouragement, but a woman in a gold Favre jersey at the edge of the crowd shouted, "Brett Favre deserves more respect than he got!"

A man responded, "He retired. Get over it."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.