McCarthy: Favre needs time

Coach says meeting with QB 'very positive'

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said today that he has left the ball in the hands of Brett Favre on whether he wants to return to play football for the Green Bay Packers. The coach met with Favre last week at his home in Mississippi and said the two had a "very positive" meeting.

McCarthy spent about 2-3 hours with Favre last Thursday in Hattiesburg, Miss. Upon leaving Favre's 500 acre estate, Favre told McCarthy, 'I don't want to hold you guys up. … 'I've got a lot of things I'd like to sort through.' McCarthy then told Favre, 'I just want you to know that we would really love to have you back, and I'll enjoy the opportunity.'

McCarthy was Favre's quarterbacks coach in 1999 under head coach Ray Rhodes. McCarthy then went on to be offensive coordinator with the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers.

"I said, 'Our opportunity the first time (1999) was short-lived.' "He said, 'It would be fun and exciting to work together.' "And he said, 'I've done it for 15 years ... go up to Green Bay to work and come back, so another year is not that big a deal.'

McCarthy then added that Favre said, 'I do have other issues.'"

McCarthy said he got the feeling after meeting with Favre that the quarterback needs a little more time to decide on the future of his career in football. The coach said that it is far too early in the off-season for a veteran player to decide if he wants to play the next season.

"I think he needs to get away," McCarthy said. "He needs to go in the woods with his chainsaw and cut trees down and keep doing what he's doing. He needs to answer that question because if it's not in here (points at his heart), then it's not going to be right for anybody, and I think he made that point clear."

Favre is contemplating whether to return to play football for his 16th season, and 15th in Green Bay. He told ESPN, in an interview that aired on Sunday, that he is leaning toward retirement. He also raised a red flag among Packers coaches and fans that he's not mentally ready. Favre told ESPN "If it's crunch time, two minutes left, do you want the ball?' I don't know if I do."

That statement caught McCarthy's attention, along with other Packers coaches who met with Wisconsin media for a luncheon at Lambeau Field today. However, McCarthy and his assistants say it's much too early in the off-season for him to make a decision on his career.

"Brett Favre is going to speak from the heart," McCarthy said. "Using the statement, 'Does he want the ball with two minutes left?' I think it's a matter of if he plays or doesn't play. He only plays one way. When he plays, he's going to have the ball with two minutes left in the game. ... Is the glass half-empty or half-full? He's just making a statement that if he's going to do it, he's going to do it like he's always done it, and that's all-out till it's time to hang up the cleats."

McCarthy said he watched the ESPN interview while working out at Lambeau Field this morning and again with some other assistants, like newly hired quarterbacks coach Tom Clements.

"You've got to put into context of what he feels right now," said offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski. "He might feel different in a week. I don't know."

McCarthy said neither he nor Packers general manager Ted Thompson, who also met with Favre last week, has given Favre a timetable on his decision. Favre is due a $3 million roster bonus in March, so it is very possible that the team would like to know before the start of free agency on March 3.

"I'd love to work with him," quarterbacks coach Tom Clements said. "Obviously, he's a Hall of Fame quarterback. He still can play. I think it would be a lot of fun. I would learn as much from him as I could give to him. I think it would be a great relationship. I've worked with some veteran guys before and have never had a problem communicating with them or getting on the same page. I know it would be a great opportunity for me."

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