Starting quarterback job up in the air with Favre back in the Pack
Posted: Monday, August 4, 2008 3:05 pm
By: By CHRIS JENKINS, AP Sports Writer
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Brett Favre is back. It remains to be seen whether he’ll still be the leader of the Pack.
The Green Bay Packers reluctantly embraced Favre’s forced return to the football field Sunday, after failing to come to a financial agreement that would manage to make Favre happy while staying retired.
And while it’s not yet clear what role Favre will play once he reports to Packers camp today, Aaron Rodgers says he’s ready for a potential competition with Favre after serving as his backup for three seasons.
“I’m a competitor. I’m going to compete,” Rodgers said after a scrimmage Sunday night. “This isn’t going to be easy. It’s going to be a dogfight. And I know if they do open it up to competition, not a lot of people give me a chance, but I believe in myself and I’m going to be the best I can be and let coach decide from there.”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he hasn’t decided what direction his quarterback situation will take. Given Favre’s track record of waffling on his football future, McCarthy first wants to talk to Favre today before he makes any decision on opening the job up to competition.
“There have been no promises,” McCarthy said. “Once again, there has been indecision throughout Brett’s path back here to Green Bay. It’s important for us to sit down and communicate.”
The NFL announced Sunday that Favre will be reinstated and added to the Packers’ active roster today. Commissioner Roger Goodell had held off on granting Favre’s request for reinstatement for nearly a week, hoping Favre and the team could resolve their standoff.
“Although we built this year around the assumption that Brett meant what he said about retiring, Brett is coming back,” said team president and CEO Mark Murphy. “We will welcome him back and turn this situation to our advantage.”
A private plane carrying Favre, wife Deanna and agent James “Bus” Cook arrived in Green Bay shortly after 7 p.m. Sunday night. Favre exited the plane and waved to a crowd of a few hundred fans gathered at the airport — in a severe lightning storm, no less — before driving off in an SUV.
The reinstatement will become effective at noon today, when Favre will be added to the Packers’ active roster. By reinstating Favre, Goodell is following through on a recent promise to force action.
“I’m happy,” veteran receiver Donald Driver said. “I’m excited. It’s good to have him back in the house.”
Earlier this week, the team offered Favre a long-term, multimillion-dollar marketing agreement that likely would have kept him retired. But Favre’s decision to report to camp makes such an agreement far less likely.
A trade remains a possibility. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on its Web site late Sunday night that the Packers have had preliminary contact with the Vikings on a potential trade for Favre.
“Frankly, Brett’s change of mind put us in a very difficult spot,” Murphy said in a statement released by the team. “We now will revise many actions and assumptions about our long-term future, all predicated on Brett’s decision last March to retire.
“As a result of his decision, we invested considerably in a new and different future without Brett and we were obviously moving in that direction. That’s why this wasn’t easy. Having crossed the Rubicon once when Brett decided to retire, it’s very difficult to reorient our plans and cross it again in the opposite direction — but we’ll put this to our advantage.”
Could reorienting their plans include a competition between Favre and Aaron Rodgers for the starting job? Team officials have maintained that if Favre returned to the Packers, it would be in some role other than as the starter — a job that belonged to Rodgers.
In his statement, Murphy said only that coach Mike McCarthy would “talk to the team and the quarterbacks about the plan moving forward, and after he has done that we will share it publicly.”
Rodgers had a rough night in the Packers’ annual “Family Night” scrimmage at Lambeau Field on Sunday night, as a few boos were mixed in with enthusiastic cheers from the crowd of 56,600 when he was introduced.
“Yeah, I take it personally,” Rodgers said of the fan reaction. “But like I said, it’s not the first time and it won’t be the last time.”
Rodgers hit his first pass of the night to Donald Driver, and drew a pass interference penalty on a deep pass to Driver on the next play. He then missed on his next six attempts, including several balls that seemed to bounce off receivers’ hands.
After he threw another three incompletions to begin a simulated two-minute drill, Rodgers appeared to be heating up until he threw an interception in the end zone to safety Aaron Rouse.
McCarthy said Rodgers was “solid,” and the offense struggled as a unit.
The Packers do not have another scheduled public practice until Tuesday afternoon. Favre’s arrival in training camp could cause a major disruption to the team, although may not begin practicing with the rest of the team right away.
Favre retired in March but has been having second thoughts. Team officials have insisted in recent weeks that they are moving on with Rodgers, though, causing tensions to rise between Favre and the team.
Team officials publicly have ruled out releasing Favre, fearing he would immediately sign with division rival Minnesota.
McCarthy has said the Packers had a plan in place should Favre report to camp. He first would have to pass a physical exam and a conditioning test, then may be limited to individual drills.
Rodgers remains the starter — for now, anyway.
“If we played a game tomorrow, Aaron Rodgers would be the starting quarterback,” McCarthy said. “I’m not going to change any direction that we’ve gone with this football team based on the information I have here today. That’s part of our conversation tomorrow, and we have all the confidence in the world in Aaron.”
AP Sports Writer Brett Martel in New Orleans contributed to this report.