Packers seem content to get kicked in shin

It would be nice if the team went public to counter the half-truths coming from the Favre side of this never-ending controversy, Packer Report's Bill Huber writes.

Knowing full well that saying this could mean Brett Favre parachutes onto the practice field Saturday with an escort from the Canadian Air Force or shows up at Family Night in Matt Flynn's jersey, it was a relatively calm Friday at training camp.

Coach Mike McCarthy talked about stuff other than Favre. Aaron Rodgers talked about quarterbacking. Mason Crosby talked about kicking.

Not that the F word didn't exit the mouths of the media horde. At this point, it's a nasty, almost unbreakable habit. Sort of like my need for Storheim's frozen custard after night practices.

And speaking of habits and Favre, it's unfortunate the Packers organization has this pesky habit of sitting silently while some unnamed mole from Favre's corner blabbers bits and pieces of the news.

Take, for instance, the $20 million bribe the Packers made to keep Favre retired. I hammered the Packers in a commentary that night, and the team continued taking its lumps the following day, from morning radio, to my legion of e-mailers to ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption."

Now, if I'm Packers President Mark Murphy and I'm seeing the team I'm paid to represent getting pummeled like Glass Joe in that old Mike Tyson video game, I make a few phone calls to tell the team's side of the story. Preferably to me, but beggars can't be choosers.

So, here's the deal. Yes, the Packers offered Favre a 10-year, $20 million deal. But it wasn't exactly a bribe, as I fumed. It seems this offer has been on the table since Favre retired in March. According to an unnamed NFL source who has the Packers' backs — again, why not someone from the Packers? — Murphy repeated the offer to Favre on Wednesday and said it was good regardless of whether he came out of retirement.

"He felt it was important to let Brett know face to face that he was serious about a long-term relationship, regardless of his intentions to play football," the source told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Regardless of how it was interpreted, it was a continuation of a discussion in March to formalize a long-term relationship."

That account was backed up by coach Mike McCarthy after Friday morning's practice, and Favre's camp confirmed it to ESPN.

"Mark Murphy talked to me about that in the past, how important it was for Brett to be part of the organization after he was done playing," the coach said. "Frankly, it's good for Brett, because Brett needs to stay part of football and, obviously, he's a part of the Green Bay Packers."

Whether that's good for Favre — or whether it's good for Favre to play football elsewhere — is a matter of debate. What isn't a matter of debate is this: Throughout the controversy, the Favre mole (or moles) has been all-too happy to tell the quarterback's version of the story. And all-too often, the Packers have been content to get kicked in the shins and have their eyes blackened.

On Thursday, Ari Fleischer, a former spokesman for President Bush, met with the team. In McCarthy's eyes, Fleischer affirmed the organization is handling the Favre controversy correctly.

"We're going about it the right away," McCarthy said. "For as popular or as unpopular as it is, for as tough or difficult as it is, I think the organization has stood strong."

Maybe it's part of "taking the high road" that McCarthy has mentioned a few times, but just once, it would be nice for Murphy or someone from the Packers to come out swinging when the mole tells half-truths. While they understandably would rather avoid a he-said/he-said war of words, it's not good business to see your organization — this beloved, hallmark franchise — get trampled at every turn.

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


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