Last week on Jim Rome’s television show, new Packers starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he wouldn’t completely rule out Brett Favre making a comeback, but it certainly wouldn’t be with Green Bay.
That theory might be put to the test.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen dropped a bombshell on Wednesday afternoon, reporting sources close to the Packers and Favre say the quarterback has the “itch” to come out of retirement and report to training camp when the team convenes for the first practice on July 28.
Cornerback Al Harris, who spent the day at the ESPN campus in Bristol, Conn., said Favre had expressed a desire to return.
"I know he has the itch to come back and play. If he will or not, I don't know,” Harris said on “NFL Live.”
While news of “the itch” took the sporting world by storm, the two major parties had few words to say on the topic.
“The Packers have no reaction,” is all team spokesman Jeff Blumb would tell Packer Report, echoing what he told other media outlets.
“It’s all rumor,” is all Favre told his friend Al Jones of the Biloxi (Miss.) Sun Herald.
According to Mortensen — the man who broke the story of Favre’s retirement on March 4 — Favre has talked to coach Mike McCarthy but, the Packers said, the talks have not gotten past a preliminary stage.
The Wisconsin State Journal, however, said either Favre or his agent, Bus Cook, contacted the Packers about Favre’s wish to return, but were rebuffed. The conversation ended with a request for Favre to be released, which the Packers declined.
With Cook not returning a phone call for comment, Favre speaking only via text message and with Lambeau Field deserted at this time of year — McCarthy, general manager Ted Thompson and team president Mark Murphy are getting in a final respite before training camp starts later this month — the talking was left to Favre’s family.
“He’s felt like that for the last couple of years, that the Packers didn’t really want him back,” Favre’s mother, Bonita, told a Milwaukee TV station. “But nothing’s been said. You know, it’s just been bits and pieces throughout the last couple of years, things that would come up, and it just didn’t seem like they went out of their way to keep him. It was kind of like, ‘You’re done.’”
Speaking on another Milwaukee station, Favre’s brother Scott said it was “50-50” whether Favre would return for an 18th NFL season.
“There’s no doubt he can play,” Scott Favre said. “He’s in good shape, he’s working out, we know he can still play, he’s healthy, so, if he did, it wouldn’t surprise me.”
All of this — assuming Favre is serious, and with his track record on the subject, that’s not a given — could lead to the unfathomable: seeing Favre in another team’s uniform. According to Mortensen, the Packers source said the team would be reluctant to allow him to return because “Brett retired for the right reasons.”
Plus, the Packers have spent the offseason tailoring the offense to Rodgers’ strengths, and selected two quarterbacks in April’s draft. Added together with the Packers retiring Favre’s No. 4 on the opening night of the season, and it’s clear the team has tried to move full speed ahead toward life without Favre.
Not that his return to Green Bay is impossible. Favre’s salary no longer counts toward the salary cap, but the team didn’t spend that money during free agency. Also, one of the quarterbacks, Matt Flynn, was a seventh-round selection who could be stashed on the practice squad if the team liked him enough.
"Aaron is our quarterback," Harris said. “Brett’s retired. But if he wanted to come back, there would be some guys who wouldn’t mind it. I would welcome him back with open arms.”