Favre delays arrival to Packers camp at GM's request
Favre said in a telephone interview that he did not report to the Packers' camp Sunday with the rest of the team in part because general manager Ted Thompson pleaded with him to delay his arrival.
Such is the drama that continues to build around Favre.
He offered to compete for his old job but was told that wasn't possible.
He admits he has spoken to Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress but says it wasn't tampering.
He's hoping commissioner Roger Goodell can mediate the impasse he has reached with the Packers.
"I asked Ted [Saturday], 'Am I welcome in the building if I report?' And Ted was just about shattered," Favre said in a telephone interview. "He said, 'Brett, you can't do that -- you'll get me fired.' I told him I'm not trying to get anybody fired. So Ted asked me to let the guys report and let's try to resolve this over the next two or three days."
Consequently, on Saturday, Favre did not fax a letter he has signed to request his reinstatement as an active player to the league office. That did not sit well with Favre's wife, Deanna, or his agent, James "Bus" Cook.
"Deanna, Bus, everyone here [in Mississippi] says, 'You're so stupid, letting [the Packers] play you like this,'" Favre said. "They want me to get in there now. I may wait until Tuesday or so."
"I said, 'Let me compete, you'll know I'll win this job.' And Ted said again, 'Brett, things have changed. Aaron Rodgers is our quarterback.' It's pretty clear -- and this is what I told the commissioner -- that they want me to go away, stay retired. They would much rather see me in a Packers uniform, paying me $12 million to be a backup -- which you know they really don't want -- rather than see in another uniform, no matter what they say. They'll drag this out, asking a king's ransom [in a trade], hoping it all goes away."
During Vikings training camp on Sunday, Childress explained his talk with Favre further.
"I've always felt like he could play. I told him so right after the game last year when they beat us 35-0. I wish he would have retired. I told him that to his face," Childress said. "He's still got some zip on it. In my mind, it's no different than me talking to Donovan McNabb as he's [reporting] to training camp or talking to Brian Westbrook. I communicate with people in this league. You don't leave past relationships."
Goodell has spoken to Favre twice, most recently on Saturday.
"Roger is willing to help, but he has to be careful," Favre said. "I told him I could easily send in this letter [of reinstatement], but they really don't want me there and it'll be a big circus. They play this both ways. Privately, they don't want me there. Publicly, if I sent in the letter but didn't show up right away, they could always fine me or say, 'See, why isn't he here? He really doesn't want to play.' Give me my release and see if I want to play or not."
Packers players were scheduled to attend meetings and take physicals Sunday. Running back Ryan Grant -- an exclusive-rights free agent who has refused to sign a tender offer from the team and is pursuing a long-term deal -- also did not report Sunday morning.
Players, coaches and Thompson were not scheduled to meet with reporters until after the Packers' first practice Monday morning.
It appears Tuesday is Favre's soft deadline to report to camp or possibly be traded. According to Favre, Thompson asked him whether he was interested in a trade.
"Yeah, but not just to the teams you want me to go to," Favre said, relaying his conversation with the Packers' GM.
The Packers have given permission to the Jets and Buccaneers to talk to Favre. The Jets have had conversations with Cook but have not talked directly to Favre.
Favre would not say that the Vikings are his preferred team of choice, but he confirmed that he has spoken with Childress and admitted as much to both Goodell and NFL director of security Milt Ahlerich. The Packers filed a tampering complaint against the Vikings.
"I have never denied talking to Childress," Favre said. "I've known [Childress] for about 12 years, going back to when he and Jay Norvell were assistants at Wisconsin and they used to come in and sit in our quarterback meetings. And then Brad went to Philadelphia to be with Andy Reid and, you know, Andy and I are big buddies, so the relations continued.
"Like I told Milt and like I told the commissioner, I've spoken to Childress. I've spoken to Darrell Bevell [Vikings offensive coordinator], I've spoken to Andy Reid, I've spoken to Mike Sherman, Matt Millen, Steve Mariucci. I've spoken to a lot of guys who are my friends and guys who have coached me, either talked to them or left messages."
Favre claims that his communication with many of those coaches, including Childress, has been a matter of seeing whether it was within reason to change his mind about retirement.
"I called them and asked them, 'Am I crazy? Am I wrong for pushing this? Can I still play the game? Should I let it die?' I mean, I think you know what the answer is. I can still play. I said it when I retired [in March]. Now I've had a change of heart about playing, but I've always known I can still play."
Favre said Ahlerich asked him point-blank whether Childress or anybody with the Vikings enticed him to play again.
"I told Milt, 'No, I wasn't [enticed],'" Favre said. "I told Milt and Roger Goodell that if talking to teams is tampering, then there's about seven to 10 teams that are guilty of tampering. But Brad isn't going to try to entice me because he knows that even if he wanted me to play there, it's not going to happen. The Packers aren't going to let that happen.
"So Brad and I, yeah, we talk and we exchange text messages. The Packers know that. After we beat them last year, Brad sent me a text message, teasing me how a gray-haired quarterback could still play. And the Packers were aware of that because I shared a laugh with 'em about that."
Favre adamantly denied reports that the Packers had evidence of his communications with Childress because they had the phone records from Favre's team-issued cell phone.
"That's just bogus," Favre said. "I don't have a Packers cell phone. Never have. I told Ted [on Thursday] that he and [coach Mike] McCarthy needed to clear up this cell phone thing. I told him they needed to get in front of the media and admit that I don't have one of their cell phones. And Ted said, 'Well, I think somebody already squashed that [story].' But that isn't enough. They need to get up and admit it's ridiculous and bogus."
Thompson did not immediately return a phone message to respond to Favre's version of the story.
Chris Mortensen covers the NFL for ESPN. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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After pushing and pushing to keep playing either in Green Bay or elsewhere, Brett Favre's storied career will continue in 2008. The unretired quarterback has been traded by the Packers to the Jets.
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