Favre's Return Just One of Stories

Between a scandal and subpar play personally and as a team, this week isn't all about Brett Favre's return to the stadium that he brought to life for 16 seasons. Favre talked about a myriad of issues during a conference call with Packers beat reporters.

With the passage of time, Brett Favre vs. the Green Bay Packers isn't quite the same juicy story line as last year's two meetings. Nonetheless, Favre remains the focal point with the Minnesota Vikings facing the Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday night.

For Favre, there's the controversy involving alleged lewd text messages to former employees with the New York Jets. There's a surgically repaired ankle and, now, an elbow that have needed injections. There's also subpar play from the 41-year-old Favre, who has six touchdowns against seven interceptions after a scintillating 2009 campaign of 33 touchdowns against seven interceptions.

Favre, who could talk for an hour on the color of a blue sky, had no interest in detailing Tuesday's conversation with the league involving the so-called sexting scandal. Nor did he have any interest in saying if he was "embarrassed" that the allegations have scarred a reputation that had been marred only by his annual play-or-not-to-play charade.

"That's a league issue," Favre told reporters in Green Bay during a conference call on Wednesday. "As I've said, my focus is on the next opponent. Obviously, that's Green Bay. As I said the other night, I'm reluctant to say that I'm excited about coming back. I know how it feels to play there. It's a huge challenge. We need a victory. This is a race to the finish. We need it."

Both teams need a victory, even in a conference in which no team has fewer than two losses. Minnesota reached the NFC championship game and Green Bay was one of the NFL's most dominant teams down the stretch last season. Both were among a handful of premier Super Bowl contenders entering this season. Instead, the Packers are 3-3 with two consecutive losses and Minnesota is 2-3 after eeking out a win against the stumbling and bumbling Cowboys last week.

Put together the injuries, the scandal and the slow start personally and by the team, and it's not been the encore and farewell tour that Favre had hoped for many expected.

"When I was thinking back in the summer, I was thinking that it would be tough with Sidney, with Percy," Favre said, mentioning Sidney Rice, who will miss at least half the season with a hip injury, and Percy Harvin, who has missed time with migraines. "I knew Chester (Taylor) was gone and that was a dimension we lost. You throw those guys into the mix as far as being out, it's always tough to — and I say repeat, but we didn't go to the Super Bowl but compete at that level that we were at last year, the stars were in line, if you will."

The stars haven't been in line this year, though the addition of Randy Moss two weeks ago put a "nice bounce in everyone's step," coach Brad Childress said during his conference call.

While in Green Bay, Favre pushed for the Packers to trade for Moss after his stay in Oakland had gone awry. When Moss was traded to New England instead, Favre's relationship with general manager Ted Thompson began to sour and eventually culminated in Favre's trade to the Jets early in training camp in 2008. Finally together, Moss has caught nine passes for 136 yards and a touchdown in their two games.

Brett Favre celebrates during his triumphant return last year.

"Sure, I would have liked to see him come in and play with him," Favre said of a 2007 season in which the Packers reached the NFC title game anyway. "The guy ended up catching 23 touchdowns that year. He's a dynamic player and I'm very excited about the opportunity to play with him. I consider it a privilege to play with this guy as I would a lot of the players I played with during my career. This guy not only has the talent, he has the knowledge, the instincts. He has the complete package. It was kind of bittersweet to watch him because, I mean, it was ‘God, this guy is unbelievable.' Usually, he was beating you and it was kind of like how, ‘Do we stop him?' As far as Ted and I go, do we talk on a regular basis? No. But I think in the end, our relationship will be as it was for many years. It was a business relationship that I don't want to say went sour, but that's where it went awry. But that's over and done with."

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he had a "very positive" relationship with Favre during their time together, and Favre said he sent a congratulatory message to McCarthy when he and his wife had their child last year. On the field, the Packers know full well what Favre is capable of doing. Last year, he threw seven touchdown passes with no interceptions and no sacks in the Vikings' sweep.

"I've had a chance to watch him a couple times this year," McCarthy said, speaking specifically of watching Favre attack the defenses of two of the Packers' prior opponents, Miami and Detroit. "He's always going to make plays. He has such great command of the offense, and he knows where the ball is supposed to go and he can still get it to any quadrant of the field. He's still fully capable of playing at a high level. He's taken some hits a little more it looks like this year than last year, but he's still a top-notch quarterback."

Favre, who has said he will retire after this season, laughed when a reporter asked why anyone should believe him this time. He proceeded to stammer through his answer, knowing there was nothing he could say to convince anyone after the annual charade has become a source of national amusement. Nonetheless, there's a good chance this will be Favre's final game in Lambeau Field. This will be Favre's 119th start in the historic stadium, breaking John Elway's NFL-record 118 starts at Mile High Stadium in Denver.

Favre was booed lustily during his return last season, but the fervor seems to have died down considerably. Favre still speaks wistfully of his time here and said Lambeau Field remains special to him.

"I played a ton of games in that stadium and not once did I ever step in that stadium — it was obviously different last year — that I did not respect and feel very privileged to be on Lambeau Field," Favre said. "Every touchdown I've thrown in that stadium was as joyous as the next. So, I've always savored the moment. I never took it for granted. This will be no exception. But, yes, unless we were to go back in the playoffs, this will be it, yeah."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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