You'd never have
thought that a little indecision could tarnish the legend of Brett Favre in
Green Bay. But with each day the 36-year-old quarterback spends on his family's
465-acre spread in Hattiesburg, Miss., without deciding if he will return to
the Packers for one more season, the folks up north seem to love him less and
less. "There's been a gradual erosion in the fawning over Brett Favre,"
said veteran radio sports-talk-show host Steve True of WAUK in Milwaukee.
"It's definitely not a case with my callers of, 'Oh, you can't let Brett
go.' I'm guessing it was that way near the end in Baltimore with Unitas."
More evidence: A recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel online poll asked fans,
"Do you think the Packers should trade Brett Favre?" More than 82% of
the 11,856 respondents said yes. Unscientific, to be sure, but stunning in its
The Packers have
long claimed they won't trade Favre. "The fans would storm our
offices," Packers president Bob Harlan said last fall. And Favre has said
recently that he would never play for another team. For him, it's one final
season with the Packers or a full-time life on the riding mower. But now that
the Packers have pushed the deadline for him to decide (and claim a $3 million
roster bonus) to the opening of training camp in late July, it's clear that the
drama will probably play out for at least a few more weeks.
Favre has been
waiting for the Pack to get active in the free-agent market. Coming off a
disastrous 4-12 season, the club cleared $23 million in salary-cap space. But
G.M. Ted Thompson isn't a big-splash guy; he's made it clear he's building a
team for the next five years, not just for a Favre swan song in 2006. So while
some teams have thrown cash at bottom-of-the-roster players ( Dallas gave
part-time offensive tackle Kyle Kosier a $5 million signing bonus), Thompson's
biggest signing has been a re-signing--of solid defensive end Aaron Kampman.
And he has let his starting interior line (guards Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera
and center Mike Flanagan) leave as free agents in the past 14 months. That
means that if Favre returns, he'll be protected by the woeful trio of guards
Junius Coston and Will Whitticker and center Scott Wells.
"I think he
really wants to play," said retired insurance agent Bill Mueller, who's
been attending Green Bay games for 43 years. "It sounds to me like he's
looking for a reason to come back." If Favre does come back, it had better
be for the love of the game, because the Packers don't look a lot better today
than they did last September.