With the Brett Favre standoff still simmering, Aaron Rodgers took his place Monday as the Packers’ new starting quarterback.
Rodgers is trying to ignore what has become a daily soap opera involving the three-time MVP. Favre is considering filing for reinstatement with the NFL and reporting to camp this week, a move likely intended to pressure Green Bay to grant him his release—something the Packers refuse to do—or trade him.
The NFL had not received reinstatement paperwork from Favre as of Monday evening.
“I feel like this is really between Brett and the organization, and I’m just trying to stay focused on the things I can control,” Rodgers said after the team’s first practice at camp.
General manager Ted Thompson spoke twice with Favre on Saturday, for about 45 minutes each time. They decided it would be best for Favre to stay away from Green Bay for now.
“We still have not gotten to the point where we agree on what the best option is,” Thompson said Monday. “We have sort of agreed to disagree, and at that time he suggested he would probably delay coming to training camp for at least a couple of days to see how things worked out.”
The Packers aren’t going to allow Favre to play for an NFC North rival and aren’t going to trade him without getting value in return. And Favre might not want to play for any of the teams showing interest, a group that includes Tampa Bay and the New York Jets. Thompson acknowledged talking to other teams.
“There have been some ‘kicking of tires’-type conversations,” he said.
Favre wants to be released, something Thompson opposes. The Packers hold Favre’s rights until his contract expires after the 2010 season.
“A release just doesn’t make a lot of sense from the Packers’ point of view,” Thompson said. “I’ve not heard many people say that’s a good option— even people that would like to hang me in effigy outside.”
The Packers have filed tampering charges against Minnesota, suspecting Favre’s latest flip-flop on his future was spurred mainly by interest from the Vikings.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is trying to help the sides reach a settlement.
“I’m glad to see that there are productive discussions and they’re talking directly to one another,” Goodell said from Buffalo Bills training camp Monday. “They’re both important to the league going forward, and I’m hopeful they’ll reach a proper resolution.”
Goodell said the league was working toward a resolution of the tampering investigation.
Thompson said Favre wanted people to know he doesn’t want to become a distraction.
“His reasoning behind that is he cares very much about this team, cares about these players, his former teammates, so he doesn’t want to do anything to disrupt from that,” Thompson said.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy downplayed that possibility.
“We talked about it as a team yesterday,” he said. “I don’t foresee Brett Favre coming in here as a problem. Brett Favre is a big part of the Green Bay Packers history, and he may be a part of the future as we move forward, and that’s an option that he has if he reinstates.”
Thompson reiterated that if Favre were to return to the Packers, it would not be as the starter. Thompson also did not make much of the idea of an open competition with Rodgers.
“We have to continue down this path,” Thompson said. “Where that leads, I don’t know, but I didn’t want to be dishonest or disingenuous and say ‘OK, we can do this and then change our mind.’ I think Brett Favre deserves more than that, so we told him the way we felt.”
Veteran offensive tackle Mark Tauscher lauded Rodgers for his handling of an “uncomfortable situation.”
“I think he’s stepped in and really taken the reins of what we’re doing here,” Tauscher said. “I think everybody in this locker room has a lot of confidence in what he can do.”
Wide receiver Donald Driver spoke to Favre over the weekend.
“He’s a legend,” Driver said. “It’s just like if anybody else walked in here and wanted to come back and play, you have to welcome ‘em back in. You take your hat off to him. He’s one of the greatest players in Packers history, as well as the NFL.”
Rodgers believes he has earned his teammates’ respect.
“They’ve seen the hard work I’ve put in,” Rodgers said. “I think I’ve earned a lot of respect from the guys playing on the scout team, being here 100 percent the last three offseasons. Obviously they want to see a guy who’s consistent on the field on Sundays, and obviously that’s going to take a few weeks to prove that to some of the older guys, but I look forward to that challenge.”
Monday’s practice attracted more national coverage than usual, but it wasn’t exactly a media circus.
“I was expecting elephants and different things to kind of be out there,” Tauscher said. “There’s a lot of media and stuff, but it wasn’t a case where there were trapeze artists.”
Favre’s presence could change that in a hurry.