Will ESPN be consumed by Favre forever?

With the network going gaga over old news about the retired QB's locker, PackerReport.com's Steve Lawrence brings you this, ahem, exclusive story.

In this PackerReport.com exclusive, we take you to the ESPN campus in Bristol, Conn. The date is July 14, 2011 — about two weeks before training camp — and a breathless Trey Wingo, on the set of "NFL Live, " is asking his panelists about the latest possibility of a Brett Favre comeback.

Wingo: "You are watching exclusive video, showing Brett Favre wearing a Green Bay Packers hat while shopping for a football at a Dick's Sporting Goods. Merrill, what do you make of this?"

In yet another PackerReport.com exclusive, we take you to the set of ESPN's "SportsCenter." The date is April 20, 2014. ESPN's Rachel Nichols, her hair still looking nice all these years later, is practically drooling as she gives her report of this big news from Hattiesburg, Miss.

"Brett Favre threw a football today at a Southern Miss spring football practice. One Southern Miss receiver told me, ‘The old guy can still bring the heat.' I asked Brett if he thought he could still play in the NFL. And he told me, quote, ‘You never know if Rodgers gets hurt.'"

And finally, in this blockbuster exclusive — what can I say ... I have connections — we take you back to the set of "NFL Live." It's June 3, 2017, and the Favres' youngest daughter, Breleigh, is graduating from high school.

ESPN's Sal Paolantonio — you know, the guy who said Favre is overrated — is practically hyperventilating. At the commencement, Favre was seen with a Packers handkerchief as he dabbed tears from the eyes of Deanna. Paolantonio caught up with Favre, and Favre told him that the party for Breleigh is going to be so big, he "might need to come out of retirement to pay for it."

Wingo turns to analyst Chad Johnson. "Wow! Let me ask you, Ocho Cinco, Favre will only be 47 when the season kicks off, though to me, he doesn't look a day older than 46. What do you think the odds are that this time, he finally does what all of us at ESPN have lusted for for all of these years, and finally come out of retirement?"

The Kübler-Ross model describes the five stages of dealing with grief. ESPN is still in the first stage: denial.

That was clear with the, ahem, news the network drummed up this week about Favre's locker still having the "FAVRE" nameplate above it. ESPN treated this like breaking news, even though coach Mike McCarthy joked about it with the media the previous week.

I understand the nation's fascination with Favre. But while most of us in Green Bay have moved on, ESPN clings to him like a spoiled kid clings to his Gameboy. Favre has retired. Let it go.

So what if Favre's locker has his nameplate above it? While I think it's curious the Packers are planning to remove the locker and ship it to Favre — what's he supposed to do with it, put his family's heirloom china in it? — there's not exactly a playbook written for what to do with a legend's locker.

Simply putting some third-string schlub's equipment in it would have been distasteful. Perhaps removing it and putting it on display in the Packers Hall of Fame would have been great. That way, fans will forever be able to pay homage to the franchise's savior.

Either way, the Packers' go-it-slow approach to Favre's locker should be commended. As McCarthy said at the rookie camp last month, "it's more than just a locker."

If Aaron Rodgers couldn't handle Favre being in the locker room in name only — and there were no signs it bothered him — then lord help him when his offensive line is having a bad day.

And if ESPN needs to fill its 60-minute "SportsCenter," perhaps they can catch up with old favorites LeBron James and Ocho Cinco. Favre's retired. Stop turning molehills into mountains.

Steve Lawrence is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com


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