Favre's here; so should everyone else

If Brett Favre can sweat through voluntary June practices, then everybody else should, too. That includes Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett, the Packers' two marquee off-season additions, who have skipped all the practices.

Brett Favre's participation in the ubiquitous OTAs — that's organized team activities, if you prefer the NFL's peculiar jargon — shows that he put off retirement for at least another year because he wants to win, not because of money.

The same commitment can't be seen in two of his new teammates, but more on them later.

When all is said and done, Favre will be in Green Bay for all three weeks of these OTAs. While he won't practice every day, it's impressive stuff considering his resume, legacy and experience. The OTAs are voluntary, and it's not as if the 16-year veteran wouldn't want to be somewhere — anywhere — else in June, some three months before the season kicks off.

But here Favre is, diving head-first into new coach Mike McCarthy's version of the West Coast offense.

Why? While Favre is an intense competitor, even he can't possibly believe this year's edition of the Packers is going to challenge for the Super Bowl, much less in a pedestrian NFC North Division. So he must be going through this drudgery for one thing, and one thing only: pride.

"The bottom line for me is I want to be the best I can be, so how far am I willing to go?" Favre said. "I know age works against me, so I have to work twice as hard as I had before and mentally be as sharp (as) the previous 15 years. So, there's a huge challenge for me."

While Favre's pride is evident, it clearly means nothing to two of his new teammates: Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett, who just happen to be the Packers' marquee off-season additions.

Woodson's seven-year, $52 million contract includes $10 million to be paid this year. Pickett's four-year, $14 million deal includes $5 million to be paid this year.

For that kind of money, the Packers are expecting more than just big things. They are expecting them to build upon last season's defensive turnaround and be lynchpins in the return to championship contender status.

For that kind of money, you'd think they could at least show up and, you know, do such trivial things as learn their teammates' names and the defensive scheme, and build some cohesion heading into training camp in July.

And therein lies the contrast. Favre, a certain Hall of Famer, is sweating through June to be the best he can be. Woodson and Pickett are doing who knows what.

It's a matter of pride.

On almost anybody's list, Favre is among the top five quarterbacks in NFL history. Meanwhile, Woodson, arguably, is the NFL's most overrated player.

The former Heisman Trophy winner started his career brilliantly but has been injured so often the last four seasons that you wonder if he can be even a shadow of his former self. He's a player with much to prove — and he's being paid a king's ransom to be the player he hasn't been since 2001.

Pickett, meantime, is a former first-round pick of the St. Louis Rams. Pickett's been a decent player, but the Rams thought so much of him that they chose the ancient La'Roi Glover over Pickett once free agency started this past spring. Instead of using that as motivation, or simply wanting to live up to lofty expectations, Pickett is AWOL, too.

Nobody should be expected to have perfect attendance at these voluntary sessions. No matter how much you might think otherwise just because they're paid a ton of money, NFL players should be allowed to have a life. A lot of them are fathers, and with school letting out, they probably would like to spend time with their families. There are charity commitments and youth football camps. Because of the coaching change, McCarthy has said his off-season schedule was given to the players too late.

With that said, Favre is in Green Bay. If he can pry himself away from the kids, tractor and golf course, it shouldn't be asking too much for everyone to be there with him.

Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. Send comments to steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com.

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