Some defensive Packers want to put the hurt on Benedict Brett
Posted: Wednesday, August 19, 2009 5:29 pm
By: By CHRIS JENKINS, AP Sports Writer
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Nick Barnett tried. He really did.
But after reciting the preferred company line on Brett Favre’s upcoming comeback with the Minnesota Vikings — they look forward to playing against any good quarterback, they always enjoy the Vikings rivalry, blah, blah, blah — one of the Green Bay Packers’ most playful personalities couldn’t help himself.
“I think he’s a great quarterback, a great guy, a great leader,” Barnett said. “Would I like to hit him? Hell, yeah, I’d like to hit him. All these damn practices out here and they didn’t let us hit him.”
Then the linebacker really hammed it up, looking directly into one of the TV cameras stationed around his locker: “I want to get a nice little shot on you, Brett. I said it. Put it on the bulletin board.”
It looks like Barnett and the Packers will get their chance.
Favre decided Tuesday to end his retirement for the second year in a row, joining the Vikings in a red practice jersey just weeks after Minnesota coach Brad Childress said Favre told him he would stay retired.
The latest chapter in Favre’s year-after-year retirement saga didn’t exactly send shock waves through his old stomping grounds of Lambeau Field, given a summer’s worth of rumors linking the former Packers standout with a move to the rival Vikings.
Favre eventually was traded to the AFC and the New York Jets. He retired earlier this year, but rumors have been popping up all offseason that he would eventually end up in a Vikings’ jersey.
“I’m not surprised by it,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said of Favre’s latest comeback. “I don’t think anybody should be surprised by it.”
But McCarthy did his best to avoid being drawn back into an instant replay of last season’s ugly, high-profile divorce between one of the NFL’s flagship franchises and its most beloved player.
“I have no comment about it,” McCarthy said. “We’re a football team that’s looking to improve. If he’s going to play, that’s obviously his choice.”
Packers general manager Ted Thompson also didn’t want any part of the Favre situation, which caused a major distraction during the Packers’ training camp a year ago and lingered on well after Favre was traded to the New York Jets.
After dodging a few questions about Favre on Tuesday, Thompson refused to bite on a question about whether it’s wise for any team to tie its fortunes to a player with commitment issues so late into the training camp.
“You guys just try to get me in trouble,” Thompson said, smiling.
One of Favre’s few close friends still on the team, veteran receiver Donald Driver, wasn’t looking forward to playing the Vikings with the man he has called his “brother from another mother” on the opposite sideline.
“If he’s there, I am willing to face him,” said Driver, who spoke with Favre recently but didn’t reveal details of the conversation. “I don’t have a choice. I don’t have a choice at all. I’ll be ready.”
Other players just shrugged it off.
“I don’t care about that,” cornerback Charles Woodson said of the situation with Favre and the Vikings. “It’s just another team.”
Favre’s former teammates acknowledged that he could make the Vikings better, but said they didn’t believe the move would put their rivals over the top.
“He’s a Hall of Famer,” Driver said. “But I don’t think it’s going to change who’s on top of the division. That’s our goal is to be on top of the (NFC) North, and we’re not going backward for anyone. I know what we have over here, and that’s a team that’s going to win the NFC North and go to the Super Bowl.”
Barnett said the Packers are shaping up as a strong team behind quarterback Aaron Rodgers, allowing them to mostly ignore Favre’s move to the Vikings.
“Are we concerned with him? Absolutely not,” Barnett said. “We’ll be concerned with him when we see him. … Who cares? I heard (Michael) Jordan’s coming out of retirement, too.”
Linebacker Aaron Kampman wasn’t providing any bulletin board material Tuesday, but acknowledged that facing Favre in a game will be different from facing him in practice as a Packer was.
“The red jersey will be off,” Kampman said.