Work in Sports
Packers likely to finish preseason without Favre at QB
By Don Banks, Sports Illustrated
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The elbow that has the entire state of Wisconsin out of joint belongs to Brett Favre.
The Green Bay Packers quarterback is watching his football these days from the unaccustomed position of the sidelines, a vantage point he is determined to maintain until his ability to grip it and rip it returns.
"When I start throwing, I want to start throwing," Favre said Wednesday, discussing his week-old case of elbow tendinitis. "I haven't been able to throw a ball like I want for several weeks now, since the first week of camp."
Nothing about the first sore arm of Favre's 10-year NFL career is all that certain. But at least two things now appear more than likely:
"Oh, hell yeah, he'll be there," veteran Green Bay safety LeRoy Butler said of Favre's chances to face the Jets. "Without question he'll be there. I can't even imagine what it'd be like without him, and I don't even want to think about it.
"The guy will be there Sept. 3, and him and Vinny [Testaverde] will go at it. That's what the crowd is going to see and that's what they want to see."
Favre acknowledged Wednesday that he could "easily" skip the Packers' final two preseason games in order to rest his arm, saying, "if I don't [play], it's not the end of the world."
But Favre isn't willing to concede that he may have to struggle with some form of the tendinitis all season, and play in pain, as some within the organization, including general manager Ron Wolf, have indicated.
"I feel like I'm different from most people," Favre said. "To say that a month from now I'll be experiencing pain is just a guess. It feels better today than it did last week, and that's probably because of rest and treatment.
"But if it felt the whole season like it does today, it would be probably difficult to throw the way I want to. And if it was like that, it would probably get worse, to constantly throw balls every day. Tendinitis can stay with someone for a long time. But a lot of people don't treat it the way we are right now. But my job is to throw, so that's why it's such a big concern. That's why we're doing everything possible for it."
A big concern? While not quite Cal Ripken-esque in his iron-man status, Favre and the legion of Packers fans everywhere take the issue of his longevity very seriously.
Put bluntly, the Packers' chances this season equate to Favre's chances. His success translates to their success. No other team in the NFL more closely depends on one man to determine the fine line between winning and losing.
Until he pulled himself from the lineup Sunday in Denver, after experiencing pain in his elbow during pre-game warmups, Favre had played in 173 consecutive Packers games, preseason and postseason included. His NFL-record starting streak stands at 139 consecutive games, including the playoffs.
That's why Packers officials are basically leaving it up to Favre to tell them when he feels ready to resume throwing. Until then, backup Matt Hasselbeck will continue to handle the first-team duties.
"If it feels fine, there's got to come a point where you start throwing," Favre said. "That's basically what we're waiting on. I think [Packers coach] Mike [Sherman]knows now that I'll definitely make the right decision. I know he was scared that I was going to try and play [Sunday], but I went out and tested it, and I just felt like it was too risky over a preseason game.
"You play two series, but then you set yourself back another week. It doesn't do any good. That's basically the approach I'm taking now and I think they trust me with it."
Favre on Monday received an anti-inflammatory cortisone shot in the elbow and underwent an MRI test that confirmed there was tendinitis, but no tendon or ligament tear. He said he would not likely receive another cortisone shot, and if he did, it would be in another four weeks and serve as an indication that the injury was not healing properly.
"It's just one of those things that take time," Favre said. "If it was anyone else on this team beside a quarterback, they said they wouldn't even have MRI-ed it. If I wasn't throwing footballs, it would be no big deal."
In Butler's eyes, Favre's decision to take it easy for the rest of the preseason is a blessing in disguise.
"People around here have got to understand this is a good thing," Butler said. "This is going to work to our advantage. He's going to be so fresh. He's going to be so enthusiastic. He's going to pretty much carry this team once the regular season starts."