After taking his lumps for several days from the Favre camp, with mouthpieces ranging from his mother to unnamed sources blaming Thompson for pushing Favre into premature retirement and then being unreceptive to the quarterback's wish to return, Thompson finally decided to have his say.
Thompson said the Packers have no intention of releasing Favre, which the quarterback asked for in a letter the team received Friday morning. Thompson wouldn't rule out taking Favre back on the roster, but for now, Aaron Rodgers is his starter.
Thompson several times called the ordeal "gut-wrenching," since it's forcing many fans to take sides between the franchise and Favre.
"This stuff hurts a lot of people. I mean, it hurts," Thompson told The Associated Press. "I'm not talking about physically hurting, but the sensitivity. We understand where the fans are coming from. This is a hot-button issue that surpasses anything I've ever gone through."
Thompson also confirmed a report by FoxSports.com's Jay Glazer — and relayed in yesterday's Favre story here at PackerReport.com — in which Favre discussed ending his retirement just weeks after his emotional good-bye on March 6. At the time, Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy were agreeable to a return and were prepared to fly to Mississippi to meet with Favre, only for Favre to cancel the meeting and say that he was going to stay retired.
"He said he appreciated all the planning we were going to do," McCarthy told The AP. "But he felt that at this point, he had reached a point of closure, to use his words, and he was going to stick with his initial decision."
When Favre told McCarthy on June 20 that he wanted to come back, the coach asked if Favre was 100 percent committed to the sport. McCarthy said the answer was no.
"That always seemed to be the one thing that he had to come to grips with," McCarthy said.
Things came to a head on July 4 with Favre's text message to Thompson, with the GM's infamous reply that he was on vacation. That led to Tuesday's conference call, in which Favre said he was 100 percent ready to play football.
But, as Thompson said Saturday, "things have changed," alluding to the team drafting Brian Brohm in the second round, Matt Flynn in the seventh and the team pouring its energy into getting Rodgers ready to start.
For now, Thompson and Co. are waiting to see if Favre will file his reinstatement papers. If that happens, the Packers will have 24 hours to place Favre on the active roster or release him. Since Thompson has said the second scenario won't happen, that means Favre is destined to return to the roster — if only shortly. Thompson, however, said he has not received any calls from other teams inquiring about Favre's availability in a trade.
Another option would be to keep Favre on the roster as a backup, though Thompson hinted Favre — with a record 275 consecutive starts — wasn't likely to agree to that scenario. Thompson wouldn't say whether there was a scenario in which Favre and Rodgers would compete for the starting job, only saying that Rodgers is his starter.
"We've communicated that to Brett, that we have since moved forward," Thompson said. "At the same time, we've never said that there couldn't be some role that he might play here. But I would understand his point that he would want to play."
Thompson, never one to be swayed by public opinion, seemed particularly wary of the public-relations hit the team has suffered in the last week — and would suffer if the team severed its ties with the league's only three-time MVP.
"It's gut-wrenching when you think about it," Thompson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "We're struggling to do the right thing. We don't have all the answers.
"It doesn't bother me when people think we picked the wrong guy or we made a personnel decision that wasn't right. But when it gets to something as core value as this, it concerns me that there would be people who would think less of us. That's important to me. It always has been.
"People think I'm stoic and don't care what anybody thinks. Sure I do. If it's something like a draft pick, I'm fine with that. I want people to know that I know fans care so much and we care, too. We care about the legacy of the Packers and the legacy of Brett Favre. We don't have all the answers."