Coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson broke their silence on the Brett Favre soap opera on Saturday. One line that is sure to open some eyes is this one: "You and Ted need to have a plan if I do come back," McCarthy recalls Favre saying in mid-June. "Either give me my helmet or give me my release."
Favre may have a different recollection of that conversation, and maybe sometime soon, one of his mouthpieces — his mom, brother, sports editor friend, mailman or if we're lucky, Mr. Wishy-Washy himself — will tell it to ESPN.
But for now, Thompson — while at the same time saying he wished the situation wouldn't have turned so rancorous — turned up the heat on the retired/unretiring future Hall of Fame quarterback.
Thompson confirmed that Favre spoke about ending his retirement a mere three weeks after calling it quits in a tear-jerker of a news conference at Lambeau Field. But, just two days before Thompson and McCarthy were set to jet to Mississippi to talk to Favre, the quarterback said he was comfortable with his retirement decision.
Combine that episode with three years of maybe-maybe not retirement drama and, according to Thompson and McCarthy, a couple of conversations this offseason in which Favre casually mentioned coming out of retirement only to admit he wasn't 100 percent committed to playing football, is it any wonder that, barely two weeks from the start of training camp, the Packers plan on betting the season on an unproven quarterback instead of the NFL's only three-time MVP?
So, of course, the big question is this: What's next?
Thompson said he will not grant Favre's wish by releasing him — small wonder, considering Thompson would need 24-hour police protection if Favre sauntered into Lambeau Field in Week 1 wearing a Vikings jersey.
That leaves three options, all of which you know but are worth repeating in light of Thompson's comments.
The first is Favre is a member of the Green Bay Packers on opening day. Thompson didn't dismiss the notion Favre could indeed suit up for a 17th season with the Packers, but added Aaron Rodgers is the Packers' starting quarterback. The second is Favre is traded, and if a deal can't be worked out with the Siberian Football League or Congolese Football Federation, Thompson probably would settle for some AFC club. The third option is Favre calls another audible, decides to stay retired and ponders how he'll keep his name in the news for the next year.
While it was nice of Thompson to finally give the Packers' version of the story, I'm sure his No. 1 reason wasn't to be nice to Joe and Jane Scribe.
Thompson sent a couple of messages to Favre and agent Bus Cook on Saturday. First, we're prepared to take you back, but you can sit on the bench. Second, if we decide to part ways with you, we — not you — will decide where you're going. Third, if you don't like the first two options, then you can stay retired.
And that no doubt is exactly the scenario Thompson and Co. hope plays out, because he'd rather not give Favre his helmet and he's certainly not going to grant him his release.
So, it's up to Favre to respond. Does he back down, or does he call Thompson's bluff and jog on to the practice field for the first day of training camp on July 28? You can bet that would make Thompson's and McCarthy's skin crawl and make Rodgers awfully uncomfortable, not to mention divide a locker room in which some veterans would rather take their chances with a 38-year-old quarterback who may or may not be 100 percent committed to football rather than the committed but unproven Rodgers.
Fact is, Favre has the leverage and always will. He's the beloved icon, no matter what turmoil he's putting the franchise through.
Bill Huber writes for Packer Report. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org