Favre fervor: "Almost all want him to return"


Sep 23, 2005
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WED., JAN 17, 2007 - 10:04 AM
Favre fervor: Almost all want him to return

GREEN BAY - Brett Favre may not know whether he wants to play a 17th NFL season, but his fans are virtually unanimous: They want him back.

Unlike a year ago, when a segment of Packer Nation thought their beloved QB should move on - for his own good and for the good of the team - most fans agree that Favre should postpone retirement for at least one more year.

As a result, the talk-show airwaves and online chat forums are calmer than they were last time around.

Virtually no one is suggesting the Packers could accelerate their rebuilding project by increasing their free-agency cash flow with a thanks-for-the-memories farewell to Favre, by making 2005 first-round draft pick Aaron Rodgers the starter or by trading Favre to a contending team for some draft picks. All those were points during the sometimes heated debate last offseason.

It's close to unanimous. I'm sure there are a few people left who think it's time (for Favre) to move on and find out if Rodgers can play, but they're probably the same people who eat an ice cream cone from the bottom up," said longtime radio host Steve "The Homer" True, whose "World's Greatest Sports Talk Show" airs in Madison and Milwaukee.

"It hurts me, because it's one less topic to talk about. 'Do you want him back?' was great material because it was divided. Now, there's no e-mails, no calls. Everybody, or as close to everybody as everybody can be, wants him back."

Likewise, Internet discussions about Favre's future aren't as contentious as they were after last season, when Favre threw a career-worst 29 interceptions and the Packers went 4-12.

Favre's play improved - he completed 343 of 613 passes (56 percent) for 3,885 yards, 18 touchdowns and 18 interceptions for a passer rating of 72.7 - and the team finished with a four-game win streak to finish the season 8-8.

One fan has even started an online petition imploring Favre to play another season.

"There's definitely more people that want him back this year than last year," said Larry Garot, who founded Packerchatters.com in 1996 and now claims 400,000 hits per day on the site.

"(Favre) didn't have a good year last year. And I think a lot of people were really wishing that he'd pull the plug. But people vacillate. This year, the majority of them would like him to come back."

Packers chairman and CEO Bob Harlan said the shift in public sentiment is at least partially because the team has been clearer about its desire for Favre to return.

Last year, between the Packers' season-ending victory over Seattle and Favre's late-April announcement that he would return, general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy made very few public statements about the team's stance on Favre.

This year, Thompson and McCarthy said after the season finale at Chicago that they want the 37-year-old Favre back, and both men told the quarterback the same thing before he went home to Mississippi.

"Last year, I was flooded with calls and letters about, 'What is he going to do?' and I haven't been this year," said Harlan, who answers his own phone and mail.

"Last year, I think there was a misunderstanding among the fans, feeling (Thompson) didn't want Brett to return. I'd have to explain to them (Thompson) had an hour meeting with Brett before he left town and how he and Mike McCarthy had each made individual visits to Hattiesburg."

Harlan said he hasn't gotten a single call or letter suggesting the team would be better off without Favre.

"I got a few of those letters, a few calls that said, 'I think it's time he goes and we start with Aaron.' It was certainly a minority - a big minority - but it was there last year," Harlan said. "This year, I haven't heard that at all. The one thing I hear from people is, 'I hope he decides soon.' Even longtime Brett Favre fans, who think the world of him, want him to decide sooner than a year ago."

Harlan said Thompson and McCarthy have a the-sooner- the-better stance on a decision, but they haven't given Favre a deadline.

"It's been two weeks," Harlan said. "You'd hope after a month or so he'd have a pretty good idea of what he's going to do."

In the meantime, Harlan expects fans to continue to worry and forecast what Favre will do. Many have taken three recent events - Favre's tearful postgame TV interview after the final game, his decision to postpone a scheduled Jan. 1 surgery on his left ankle and the cancellation of his membership at Oneida Golf and Country Club in Green Bay - as signs he's leaning toward retirement.

"Dropping his golf membership, there was a lot of talk around town about that," Harlan said. "What's it mean? I don't think it means anything other than he wasn't using the course, so why keep paying for it? I know he'd backed off playing. I talked to people and they'd only seen him out there three times all summer. He used to be out there every day after practice.

"But that's how it is. Every move he makes starts a new series of rumors about what he's going to be doing."

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