Favre could get paid to stay off the field
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Brett Favre’s reinstatement to the NFL was held up again Friday as the three-time MVP mulled getting paid not to play through a marketing deal with the Green Bay Packers that could resolve the standoff over his retirement.
The potential agreement, worth a reported $20 million over 10 years, might end Favre’s bid to return just months after retiring. It also would likely keep him from reporting to Packers training camp and a team that is not planning to start him at quarterback for the first time since 1992.
After talking to Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy about the marketing deal Wednesday, Favre confirmed he was considering it to ESPN on Thursday.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy made it clear Friday that, from the team’s perspective, the agreement would be more than a buyout to make an awkward situation go away. In fact, it’s been in the works for months. He first heard about it at Favre’s retirement news conference in March.
“I know Mark Murphy talked to me about it in the past, how important it was for Brett to continue to be part of the organization after he was done playing,” McCarthy said after practice Friday morning. “And frankly, it’s good for Brett. Brett needs to stay a part of football, Obviously, he’s a part of the Green Bay Packers.”
Meanwhile, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sat on Favre’s reinstatement letter for the fourth straight day, giving the two sides more time to resolve the situation.
“The commissioner will take no action today on Brett Favre’s reinstatement request. Discussions are continuing between the Packers and Brett,” league officials said in a statement issued by NFL spokesman Greg Aiello.
Despite Favre’s tearful farewell to football, he now is considering a comeback.
The problem is that Green Bay hasn’t been eager to bring him back, with Aaron Rodgers taking over the starter’s role. The Packers also don’t want to release Favre, suspecting he would immediately sign with division rival Minnesota.
The Packers hold Favre’s rights until his current contract expires after the 2010 season.
Tensions have built between Favre and the team over the past several weeks. Earlier this week, Favre sent a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell requesting to be reinstated from the team’s reserve/retired list.
But Goodell has held off approving the request, hoping the two sides could resolve their differences. Murphy flew to Mississippi to meet with Favre and his agent, James “Bus” Cook, on Wednesday. That meeting apparently rekindled talks about the marketing agreement.
Favre said in a text message to ESPN reporter Ed Werder Thursday night that the marketing deal might be the best idea.
“There isn’t a perfect solution to this, but Mark Murphy is at least trying,” Favre told ESPN. “We know what they want and where I stand. His solution, although awkward and unsettling for most, may be the best in the end.”
Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk chuckled at the thought of being paid $20 million not to play.
“You could hand me a billion dollars, and I’m still going to be on the field,” Hawk said. “It doesn’t matter to me. But everyone has different situations, has different views on money. Money is not more important than football to me right now.”
But if the deal can’t be worked out, Favre still could be reinstated and report to camp, presumably forcing the team to trade him or reconsider releasing him.
Cook told The Associated Press Thursday that Favre understands he would be walking into a media frenzy by showing up for camp, but he’s willing to handle that it if that’s the only way he can force his way back into football.
“He’s prepared to deal with it,” Cook said. “He’s ready to go back, but he can’t go back until the commissioner reinstates him.”
McCarthy has said the team has a plan in place should Favre report to camp. He’d have to pass a physical exam and a conditioning test, then likely would be limited to individual drills at first.
“He’s not a part of our 80-man roster right now,” McCarthy said. “And if or when he is, we’ll deal with that then. And I think our team has done a great job of just staying focused.”
The Packers did not practice yesterday, but players did hear from a guest lecturer: former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer.
Fleischer’s lecture on media relations was scheduled before the latest Favre controversy, but McCarthy said he took advantage of the opportunity to pick Fleischer’s brain on how he might handle the team’s current predicament.
McCarthy said Fleischer was “very encouraging” about the team’s approach.
“As popular or unpopular as it is, for as tough or as difficult as it is, I think the organization has stood strong,” McCarthy said. “They’re decisive, and they’re continuing to work through this. Everyone wants this resolved, don’t get me wrong. No one thought it would get to this point, but this is where we are.”
Favre could get paid to stay off the field