Favre says he's 'ready to go'

Brett Favre is certain that softball won't be in his future. "I hurt myself today in the public eye," Favre said in giving a critical self-assessment of his ragged play in the charity softball game he hosted Sunday. The revitalized Green Bay Packers quarterback, however, hinted following the sixth annual event at Fox Cities Stadium that the 2005 season necessarily won't be his last as a professional football player.

Favre held court with reporters for the first time since he announced in early March that he would be returning for a 15th NFL season, and 14th as the Packers starter.

A lot has happened in the three months that have passed.

Favre saw the team select former California standout Aaron Rodgers in the first round of the draft as his heir apparent. Rodgers had a starring role in the softball game, hitting two of seven home runs cranked out by the offense in its 22-5 trouncing of the defense.

Favre recently admonished Javon Walker for holding out this off-season until his demand for a new contract is met. Favre said that the Packers could win without the Pro Bowl wide receiver, who has two years left on his existing deal.

"I hated that that had to come out, but I meant what I said," Favre said Sunday. "I don't backtrack one bit about that."

Favre himself has been a target for criticism because head coach Mike Sherman excused the team's undisputed leader from participating in its two minicamps, the last of which resumes Monday and continues until Thursday. Favre is aware of the outcry, voiced by fans and even former teammate Darren Sharper, that he's getting preferential treatment and instead should be on the field to provide a good example to the younger players.

However, "in my opinion, Mike has done the right thing," Favre said. "Being away, I've missed the guys and missed being around. But, that's kind of the whole premise of doing this, is to come into training camp ready to go because you can get burned out. I don't think that's going to be the case this year. I think I'll be ready to go."

Sherman has allowed Favre to stay at home in Mississippi and indulge in an intensive workout program with a personal trainer the past month and a half. The workouts were designed to improve the on-field mobility and endurance for Favre, who will turn 36 on Oct. 10.

Teammates and coaches got their first glimpse at a leaner Favre when he dropped in for portions of minicamp practices Thursday and Friday in Green Bay. Favre said the benefits of the new training regimen aren't confined to just the physical aspect.

"Mentally, I think for me, is the biggest part of it. I want to be refreshed and ready to play (this season). I'm eager to get back out there," said Favre, who will start throwing a football later this month at home before returning for the start of training camp in late July.

He's also stayed unusually in tune with what's happening throughout the league this year by regularly watching the NFL Network.

"Hopefully, when training camp opens, I'll be ready physically and mentally. I don't see any reason why I shouldn't," Favre added.

Neither does his wife, Deanna, who's also been an uplifting source for the rejuvenated three-time NFL MVP. She called Sherman's decision to keep Favre off the field this spring "a good move."

"Just staying away and really focusing on family and working out has really helped," Deanna said. "He's really excited about coming back. He's more excited this year than probably the last two or three."

Favre points to the improved health of Deanna as a big reason why he's hopeful he will be 100 percent committed to playing this season, which he acknowledged wasn't the case during each of the last two years.

A series of unfortunate events occasionally took Favre's focus off the game of football and ultimately might have contributed to the Packers' exiting the playoffs early each season.

Favre's father, Irv, died of a heart attack late in the 2003 season. Then, in a span of a week in October last season, Deanna's brother, Casey Tynes, died from injuries sustained in an all-terrain-vehicle accident on the Favre property, while Deanna was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Deanna subsequently underwent five months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The hair she lost during the ordeal began growing back in March, and she's optimistic she has beaten the cancer. She will have a checkup exam Monday and Tuesday in Milwaukee.

Deanna, who worked out alongside Brett with the personal trainer for five weeks, played in the game Sunday. She actually hit the softball with more authority than her husband did, which prompted Brett to remark, "Embarrassing."

In all seriousness, though, a proud Brett added, "She probably feels a little bit better about herself today."

With daughters Brittany, 16, and Breleigh, 5, also on hand, Favre's perspective for playing football in the twilight of his career is much more far-sighted than it has been the last few off-seasons. Serenaded by chants of "Five more years" from the crowd of 8,505 — a record for the event — Favre will consider playing beyond 2005.

"I'm hoping this year will go smoothly," he said. "I can't guarantee what we'll do as a team. But, I hope off the field within my family that things go smoothly and I'm able to enjoy it a little bit more and my family is able to enjoy it. If that's the case, maybe I will be back" for at least another year to come.

Deanna thinks her husband could be primed for "a couple of more" years.

If so, that will mean a longer wait for Rodgers to take over the Packers reins at quarterback.

Two days after saying he was nervous in trying to make a favorable first impression with an onlooking Favre in minicamp, Rodgers did his new mentor proud Sunday. The 21-year-old led off an eight-run third inning for the offense with his first home run and added a two-run shot in the sixth.

Deanna said the game annually generates between $100,000 and $150,000 for the Brett Favre Fourward Foundation, which provides aid to disadvantaged or disabled children residing in Wisconsin and Mississippi.

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