6. I think I know, now, why Favre announced his retirement March 6. Now, I'll never think he was pushed. Nudged, maybe. But not pushed. He was too tired, too worn out to think the Packers pushed him over the cliff into retirement.
His words to me Saturday: "I never didn't want to play. My problem was, was I committed to do the offseason program, was I going to be up to the task of doing everything that comes with it -- studying, working out, preparing? Playing was never going to be the problem. What I live for is playing the games.
"I know the perception is that I've waffled," he added. "But any veteran who's played in the league this long is going to have some doubts about playing in a 16th or 17th year. And [the Packers] wanted an answer from me early in the offseason. Ted and I talked about it. We talked about a lot of things. I reiterated to him, 'Ted, I was honest with you guys and gave you an answer March 3.' I could have faked it and came back, and no one would have ever known. I knew I could not have been committed at that time.
"Could I have forced them to wait 'til July before I gave a commitment? Sure. Like I said to Ted, 'You're right, you didn't hold a gun to my head wanting an answer.' But they wanted an answer. I felt like, from a team standpoint, the best thing was to give them an honest answer at that time. If I retired three days before camp, that would have been pretty low-class. This scenario, going back after I retired, might be low-class too, but I was honest and forthright with them.''
7. I think I know the Packers have told Favre, in so many words, that there will be no competition for the starting job. Again, Favre's words: "Ted told me, 'Aaron's our starter.' I asked if I could compete for the job. He said, 'That is not an option.' He said, 'Coming up there obviously is not good. Things have changed. We've moved on.' He basically said, 'You're not going to play here.' I took that to mean, 'You can dress here to keep you from playing in certain places, but ...' ''
And the but, obviously, is that no matter how well Favre would perform in training camp, and no matter how many boos rained down on Thompson and Rodgers, it wouldn't matter. The Packers are going to go with Rodgers, and go down in flames with him if need be.
8. I think I know the Jets are fact-finding about Favre, as are the Bucs. But Favre is lukewarm, at best, about playing in either spot. The best thing either team could do is send a GM or owner, or both, to Mississippi today or tomorrow to fact-find with Favre. He doesn't know either team well. I know the teams don't want to be seen as groveling around Favre and begging him to come because of the impression it would leave about their incumbent quarterbacks, but Favre's in a sensitive spot right now. He's human. He'd like to be loved a little bit right now, or at least gather some information so if he had to make a decision about whether to accept a trade he'd know more than he knows now.
9. I think I know the best solution for this. Yes, I think eventually the Pack might pay Favre his 2008 salary to stay away, though that's not something Favre wants to have happen. The best thing, and the thing Favre and commissioner/referee Goodell discussed Saturday would be for Favre to wait and see about his 2008 team. "Roger said it could be some situation later in the year that we don't know about right now, when the stakes are higher,'' Favre told me. "That's an option. I agree with him.''
My idea: Favre gives the Packers a list of 12 teams outside the NFC North he'd accept a trade to. I'm talking the best teams, like Indy or New England. And if any of those teams suffered a quarterback injury or replaced a quarterback because of performance, Thompson would agree to make a deal with that team based on a sliding scale of compensation depending on when the trade would be made. If a primo team had an injury to its quarterback in Week 4 and could get Favre for a fourth-round pick that could turn into a three or two, they'd jump at it.
Are there problems with this? Yes. You can't force a team to trade for a player, even a player with something left in his tank like Favre. And what if an injury occurs after the Oct. 14 trading deadline? I don't have an answer for that. But staying home, staying in shape, and playing the waiting game has some appeal to Favre. He's not a confrontational person, so I think if he reports to camp this week, he's not going to like the mayhem that ensues and he and the Pack will be looking for a compromise. Maybe that entails keeping him on the roster and paying him to stay away. I don't know. But the endgame, I believe, has to result in Favre on another team at some point this season.
10. I think I know this too shall pass. What was Jerry Rice's last team? Seriously: What team was he with last in the NFL? You don't know. (Well, OK, all you Bronco fans know.) He was in Denver's camp trying to make that team on his way out of the NFL. And the media was all atwitter with stuff like: "You're ruining your legacy, Jerry!''
Today, few people remember that. People remember Rice as a revered 49er. He's got one of the greatest legacies a professional athlete could have. Ditto Favre. Five years down the road the emotion will be out of the equation, and the Packers will be hiring a sculptor to erect a third bronze statue outside Lambeau Field for Favre, joining Lambeau and Lombardi.
"If this doesn't work out,'' Favre said close to midnight Saturday, "there's no way to duplicate the relationship I have with the fans. When Bart Starr was fired by the Packers as coach, it was rough, but look now. He's much bigger than that. He's Bart Starr. Fans forgot the firing. Whatever happens, that will never have an effect on my love for the team or the fans. This is the ugliness of business. I understand.''