Do the Packers really want Favre back?

Actions speak louder than words. That summation may tell all regarding Brett Favre's future with the Packers.

General manager Ted Thompson, new head coach Mike McCarthy, or anyone affiliated with the Packers would never say it publicly, but it sure feels like the Packers do not want Favre to come back, or saying it more politely, they are ready to move on without him based on how the team is shaping up for the 2006 season.

Favre is expected to make a decision soon on whether he will come back for the 16th season in his NFL career (15th with the Packers). He has had phone conversations with Thompson of late, but has yet to meet with McCarthy. That could change in the coming week as McCarthy will try to meet up with Favre in Mississippi after this weekend's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., just a short drive from Favre's residence in Hattiesburg.

Until now, Thompson and McCarthy have been saying the right things. Thompson, late in the season and early in the off-season simply stated that he wanted Favre to come back, not really expanding upon reasons other than Favre's legendary status. McCarthy, a rookie coach, has echoed those comments and really has no other choice but to comply not even a month on the job.

If the Packers do want Favre back, they sure have a funny way of showing it. They began a process of transition last season, something Favre said he did not want to be a part of, and both the team and Favre suffered through a 4-12 season. After the season, wholesale changes began with the firing of Mike Sherman and the hiring of McCarthy and several new assistant coaches. On top of that, Thompson has intimated that the Packers probably will not go out and sign a prize free agent that could help provide for a quick turnaround next season or at least one that could put the Packers back in the playoff hunt.

Such major changes in organizational command do not speak well for the short-term future, which is all that Favre has left. The Packers are preparing for life without Favre, something that they cannot deny whether they say it publicly or not.

Thus, that leaves Favre in a tough situation where he cannot be really sure what the Packers are thinking. Could they be telling him one thing and thinking another? That is quite possible given what Favre means to the Packers and how delicate a situation it could be to tell him that he is not in their plans.

Favre even said late this past season at one of his weekly press conferences that he was not sure whether the Packers wanted him back. That type of doubt means one of two things. Either he feels in his heart that he is not in the team's plans or there is a lack of proper communication between the parties.

Favre is a creature of habit. The move to let Sherman go and not being able to retain defensive coordinator Jim Bates meant that he will have to adapt to new team leadership. It was clear that he liked and respected both Sherman and Bates. While the national media pushes that Favre is the same player he was years ago and is still having fun, the reality is that he has not been the same player or person in many ways since his security blanket, former head coach Mike Holmgren and close friends Mark Chmura, Frank Winters, and Doug Pederson, left.

Such change at this time in Favre's career could affect his level of commitment for one season and possibly beyond with so much unknown lurking ahead. It is a risk that he may not be willing to take because now more than ever in his career with the Packers a losing season is a greater possibility than a winning one. With that uncertainly, he has an element to think about that he has not had in the past few years.

There is also the Aaron Rodgers situation. The apparent successor to Favre was drafted in the first round a year ago and by all accounts will sit on the bench again if Favre returns. Thompson did not directly say it, but the hiring of McCarthy was tied to the development of Rodgers, who holds the key to the Packers' future. Such a head coach with a reputation for developing young quarterbacks would naturally begin that process in his first season.

Throw in the hiring of a first-time NFL offensive coordinator (Jeff Jagodzinski) who plans to focus on the running game and the pieces of an offense with a first-time quarterback at the helm begin to fall into place.

Favre returning to a team that will fight to reach .500 and force Rodgers to sit another year on the bench does not do anyone associated with the Packers any good. Furthermore, if Sherman could not pull Favre from a game for his poor play this past year when the Packers had nothing to play for, McCarthy surely would not make a move should Favre continue to struggle next year. Then, a possible wasted season, for several reasons, could mark 2006.

The bottom line is that even if McCarthy has a chance to speak with Favre in person and sells him on a new plan, the three-time NFL MVP cannot truly know what the Packers are thinking. No one, since Holmgren left, has ever really stood up to Favre and ever will. Sherman did not do it last year, and Thompson and McCarthy will not do it any time soon. Thus, the only indication Favre can grasp the team's true feelings can be action-based, and as of late, those actions do not look to involve him in the plans.

Matt Tevsh

Editor's note: Matt Tevsh is a regular contributor to and Packer Report. E-mail him at

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