Turning the page

A day after Brett Favre's Super Bowl-or-bust proclamation went bust in a big, bad way, time stood still at 1265 Lombardi Ave.

If there's an ax ready to drop on Packers coach Mike Sherman, it remained fixed in place.

Same for defensive coordinator Bob Slowik.

Meanwhile, the rest of the franchise has to wait for Favre to determine his future.

If Favre elects to play at least one more season, then Sherman — or whoever a new general manager would be — needs to only tinker with things in hopes of turning a playoff-worthy team into a Super Bowl-worthy team.

If Favre elects to retire, then all heck breaks loose. Sherman or the new general manager will have to focus on finding a quarterback in the draft or in free agency, or decide whether Craig Nall is the real deal based on a few cameo appearances.

Nobody knows what Favre's decision will be, and that probably includes Favre at this point. After Sunday's game, Favre hinted his first inclination was to retire but that he needed to let his mind clear of the bitter disappointment before making such a life-altering decision.

Perhaps his closest friend on the team, backup Doug Pederson, guesses Favre will be under center in 2005.

"I think he will play one more year. Gut feeling," said Pederson, who was among the players clearing his locker Monday.

Pederson says Favre — who threw four interceptions in Sunday's 31-17 wild-card debacle against Minnesota — is too much a competitor to go out on such a low note. With a year of well-chronicled family turmoil, however, Favre has to weigh football with his personal life.

"Athlete, competitor inside of Brett? No. He doesn't want to go out that way," Pederson said. "From Brett the person and Brett the husband, yeah, I could see him (retiring). That's the decision: Is he going to be the football player? Is he going to be the father, dad and husband?"

Favre's decision will help dictate the direction of a couple of vital cogs to the Packers' machine. Pro Bowl guard Marco Rivera is an unrestricted free agent and almost-Pro Bowl guard Mike Wahle will be one at some point. Wahle is due $5 million in base salary and a $6 million roster bonus if on the roster after March 2. With the team tight against the cap, there's no way they can afford that price. Thus, Wahle will be released, and the Packers may be forced to choose between the two.

Wahle and Rivera said their decision will be based, in part, on what Favre decides. That's especially true for Rivera.

"It does have a big, big impact on me," Rivera said. "If Favre retires, I mean, I'm really going to have to look at the big picture. If he's here, I definitely want to stay here. I definitely want to play with Brett. I want to retire with Brett, whenever that is. If he's not here, I'll have to look back and see what's presented to me."

"I would lie to you if I did say it didn't have any bearing," Wahle said. "There's so many things that go into a decision like that. That's obviously one of them. He's been the guy here and is the guy that gives this team a chance to win every time he's on the field.

"I think his decision affects a lot of people. I'm just a small, small piece of that."

As for Sherman, Packers president Bob Harlan was slated to meet with him Monday, but Harlan wound up going to New York for a league meeting.

Sherman led a remarkable turnaround following a 1-4 start, guiding the Packers to a 10-6 record and a third straight NFC North championship. His 53-27 record over five seasons, though, is marred by a 2-4 playoff ledger. Among those losses are the only two home playoff defeats in team history. Despite having Favre, Ahman Green and a dominant offensive line, the Packers have not advanced to a NFC championship game under Sherman.

Harlan has met with Sherman after each season to see if the burden of being coach and general manager was too much. Harlan has said he would rather have the two titles split but added the GM tag to Sherman's nameplate on the suggestion of Ron Wolf when he retired.

Simply taking one job from Sherman is easier said than done, however. If Sherman loses the general manager job, the Packers would have to hire a GM comfortable working with a coach he didn't choose. Having Sherman just being the general manager may not be ideal, either, given Sherman's track record in the draft and his firing of Ed Donatell and hiring of Slowik.

Sherman is entering the final year of his contract, and his agent, Bob LaMonte, has said he wanted to work on an extension as soon as possible so Sherman doesn't go into next season as a lame duck.


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