Commentary: Packers get it right

What if all bosses were as forward-thinking as the Packers' brass?

A "Get out of Minicamp Free" pass was wisely issued this week to quarterback Brett Favre. To anyone who has observed Favre, that's a no-brainer. But considering the NFL typically does not operate on a case-by-case basis (remember Peyton Manning's ill-fated tribute to Johnny U?), it's still a pleasant surprise.

No one thinks Favre needs to practice. But that could apply to superstars in every sport. Some athletes not only subscribe to this theory, they also independently apply to themselves. The resulting poor reputation is well deserved -- think Allen Iverson. Favre definitely doesn't fall into that category. His performance could place him among the elite who may operate outside of the rules, but Favre's character wouldn't allow it.

Between workouts with his personal trainer in Mississippi, the QB will head up north to handle other responsibilities in the coming days. Favre will attend a team meeting today, visit practice Friday, then play in his annual charity softball game Saturday. But on the practice field this June, Aaron Rodgers will be the one the early railbirds flock to see.

If there is any downside to Favre's extended absence, it is that the rookies will have to wait a little longer for the opportunity to watch and learn.

The emotional reasons are more than valid. In the past 18 months Favre has absorbed the deaths of his father, brother-in-law and friend Reggie White, and his wife was diagnosed with cancer. That's more than enough reason to give Favre a longer spring break.

A concrete physical reason to give Favre a permanent pass out of spring camps should be considered as well:

Let's assume that every NFL quarterback has a finite number of snaps. Favre has proven to be an iron man, but alas he's still human. At some point his body is going to catch up with him, let's not waste it on minicamp.

Perhaps that argument could be applied to a lot of players around the league. Maybe the Rams want to rest Marshall Faulk's legs. Maybe the Broncos, the latest host of Jerry Rice's never-ending retirement tour, should tell the receiver to hit the recliner until training camp. That's their business.

Comparing those guys to Favre amounts to apples and oranges. Favre staying off the practice field until July is a unique combination of age and ability, leadership and learning, all wrapped up in circumstances that would test anyone's mettle.

Minicamp? At this point that's kind of like Paul McCartney taking a few bass guitar lessons before his upcoming tour.

Editor's note: Laura Veras Marran grew up in Green Bay, Wis., and is a longtime sportswriter. Her column will appear each Thursday on PackerReport.com.


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