No free passes's Dylan B. Tomlinson credits Packers coach Mike McCarthy for treating Brett Favre like any other player on the team, and not a superstar.

During Mike Sherman's final season as the Green Bay Packers head coach, Brett Favre made one brief appearance at the team's two mini-camps.

Favre, who was completely healthy, showed up in street clothes and didn't throw a pass.

Favre was doing nothing wrong. After all, it was Sherman who decided to let his superstar quarterback skip all of the team's off-season workouts.

If it weren't for Favre's appearances at Fan Fest and his annual charity softball game, he might have spent the entire off-season without setting foot in Wisconsin.

Favre spent most of last week telling people that he didn't want to come to the Packers' lone mandatory mini-camp. After all, he only had 10 days to plan for his daughter's graduation party, he was still recovering from off-season ankle surgery, and appeared to be in a mini-feud with the Packers front office.

"I just really didn't want to come." Favre said.

It would have been really easy for Packers coach Mike McCarthy to look the other way and let Favre stay in Mississippi.

Fortunately, that's not the way McCarthy operates. The mini-camp was mandatory and he wanted all of his players there, and for some reason, that included his starting quarterback.

Under Sherman, Favre got used to being treated like a superstar. In 2005, in addition to being excused from both mini-camps, Favre was also given every Wednesday off.

McCarthy doesn't coach that way. He understands that Favre can't take the repetitions that he used to and occasionally needs a little more rest than the other players on the roster, most of whom are a decade younger than Favre.

McCarthy isn't going to risk injuring his starting quarterback, but he's also not going to let him get away with playing by a different set of rules than the other players on the roster. In addition to being in attendance at the mini-camp, Favre is also expected to be at nine of the 12 team's organized team activities, which will be held next month.

For this, McCarthy should be applauded. McCarthy knows the kind of message it would send the team if he allowed a player, any player, to miss a mini-camp or an OTA that he expects the rest of the team to attend.

It should be pointed out that the last time Favre was given carte blanche by the team to skip mini-camps he had the worst season of his career, throwing 29 interceptions as the Packers went 4-12.

During the off-season a year ago, Favre attended the mandatory mini-camp and was present for 10 of the 14 OTAs. It's probably not a coincidence that his play dramatically improved last season when the Packers were a surprising 8-8 and just missed the playoffs.

Favre is a legend. He's an icon. He's a three-time MVP and will cakewalk into the Hall of Fame in the first year he's eligible. He's one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game and is, in every sense of the word, a superstar.

Give McCarthy credit for not treating him like one.

Dylan Tomlinson

Dylan Tomlinson is a frequent contributor to E-mail him at

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