INFORUM.com | WDAZ.com

WDAY: The News Leader

Published August 04, 2010, 07:41 AM

Pack's path gets easier if Favre really stays home

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Brett Favre's former teammates greeted the latest twist in the MVP quarterback's long-running retirement saga with a collective shoulder shrug.

By: CHRIS JENKINS, Associated Press

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Brett Favre's former teammates greeted the latest twist in the MVP quarterback's long-running retirement saga with a collective shoulder shrug.

The Green Bay Packers have been through year after year of Favre retirement speculation — and a couple of his actual retirements — so forgive them if they don't overreact to reports that Favre has told the Minnesota Vikings he won't be back.

"If he is retired, congratulations," Packers linebacker Nick Barnett said playfully, hamming it up for the cameras and tape recorders. "If he's not, we have the same goal, and that's to hit him. It doesn't matter if he retires or not or whoever's playing quarterback over there — Norman Bates, Jeffrey Dahmer, Saddam Hussein, doesn't matter."

Except it does matter.

If Favre really stays home this time, the Packers likely become the consensus favorite to win the NFC North and perhaps make a serious run in the playoffs.

Coming off an 11-5 season and wild card playoff loss at Arizona, Packers coaches and players opened this year's training camp by talking openly about their expectations to contend for the Super Bowl.

Aaron Rodgers is developing into an elite quarterback, he's surrounded by talented offensive players and the defense improved dramatically under coordinator Dom Capers last year — although the team still has significant questions, especially on the offensive line and special teams.

Given the fact that Favre beat his former team twice last year, not having No. 4 in purple would go a long way toward smoothing out the Packers' road back to the playoffs — although nobody in Green Bay was saying that Tuesday.

"I don't think so," safety Nick Collins said. "Minnesota, Chicago, they have great teams. Detroit (is) on the rise. Everybody has upgraded in some areas on their roster. This is going to be a great division this year."

And given Favre's history of waffling over retirement, Packers players suspect the story might not be over.

"You know what? I still wouldn't count him out," tight end Donald Lee said. "I don't think he's retiring until the season starts. When the season starts and he's not there, then I'll say he's officially retired."

Other players seemed to have the same level of skepticism.

"If he's going to retire, he's going to retire," offensive lineman Daryn Colledge said. "If not, he'll be back for, what, his 17th season, is it? I don't know, 20th season, 50th? It's one of those things, if he can play, he's going to play, and I would expect if he's (able to be) back, he's going to do it because he thinks he can help his team."

Just Brett being Brett, right?

"You know, that's Brett," Collins said. "He's his own man, he's going to make the decision."

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Packers' front office wasn't interested in addressing one of its least favorite story lines.

"I really don't have any reaction," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson said somebody told him about the Favre reports on the practice field Tuesday morning, but said he hasn't been thinking about it — even about how it might change the dynamics within the division.

"This time of year I think you are more focused on your own team because your team is in the process, it's in the kitchen being cooked," Thompson said. "We've got three or four weeks to kind of decide how our team is going to look, so I think you focus more on your own concerns."

That said, Barnett said he wouldn't mind getting another shot at Favre after he dealt the Packers two tough losses last year.

"I mean, I would love to hit him," Barnett said. "I didn't get my chance last year. I was disappointed in that. But it doesn't make or break my season if Favre comes back or not. I think he's a great quarterback and had a great career, spent a lot of years doing some great things here in this community as well. Like I said, if he does retire, congratulations. It's a well-deserved retirement. But if he does come back, we'll be gunning for him the same way."

___

AP Sports Writer Jon Krawczynski contributed to this report from Mankato, Min.

Tags: