Favre dominates Murphy chat with media

Among other things, the Packers' president says the number retirement is up in the air and he appreciates the fans' passion.

Brett Favre may not have his No. 4 retired when the Packers open the season on "Monday Night Football" against the Minnesota Vikings.

"We have not made a decision yet on whether to cancel it," Packers President Mark Murphy told reporters after Thursday's shareholders meeting. "We're coming up to a point where we're going to have to make a decision pretty quick.

"Regardless of whether it's this year, we're going to retire Brett's number at some point."

Murphy spoke to reporters for almost 20 minutes, and every question centered on the Favre furor.

"I think we're all trying to do what's right," said Murphy, who noted Favre had been his favorite player. "We want to be fair to Brett, No. 1, for what he's done for the organization, but we're also looking out for the long-term best interests of the organization. That's the balancing act."

Murphy would not comment on the tampering charges leveled against the Vikings by the Packers, and would neither confirm nor deny disputed reports that Favre used a team-issued cell phone to contact the Vikings.

Several times, Murphy deferred to general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy, including questions about the end game for the drama and the possibility Favre files for reinstatement and shows up for the first day of training camp.

Neither Thompson nor McCarthy, however, were made available to reporters. McCarthy will hold his pre-training camp news conference on Saturday, two days before the start of training camp. Thompson signed autographs but steered clear of questions from reporters and fans.

"Obviously, the Brett Favre issue is on a lot of people's minds, but I was proud of the way we handled it as an organization," Murphy said. Later, he added: "The one thing I really appreciated was the passion of our fans. This is very important to the fans on both sides. That's something you don't see with every organization."

The bring-back-Favre contingent was an obvious minority among the estimated 13,000 shareholders in attendance inside Lambeau Field on Thursday morning. That wasn't surprising to Murphy.

"I think most people look at it and say, this is really a sensitive, delicate situation," Murphy said. "Obviously, I know there are people that want us to take Brett back, but Ted Thompson got a standing ovation. So, I see both sides of it."

Murphy said the team's goal was to "turn the situation into a positive."

"That's easier said than done," Murphy added. "I acknowledge that."

Bill Huber writes for Packer Report. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com

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