Favre's Decision Not So Simple, McCarthy Says


Head Coach Mike McCarthy and QB Brett Favre

INDIANAPOLIS -- Head Coach Mike McCarthy said on Friday he doesn't know when Brett Favre will make his decision on whether to continue playing or retire.

But he did indicate that, though his weekly conversations with Favre, he's aware there's more to the decision than the obvious elements talked about in public circles.

With Favre's 16th season in Green Bay in 2007 one of his best, and the team coming within an overtime score of advancing to the Super Bowl, some have considered it a no-brainer that Favre will return. He's playing well, and the team is having success, so what's there to think about?

"But that really has nothing to do with it," McCarthy said during his press conference from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. "It's not the fact that he knows he still can play. He had a great time this year.

"It's just the fact that he's played a lot of football, and he's had to fully commit himself and his family year in and year out. When you do get older, you have more responsibility, and he just wants to make sure he'll be able to commit himself 100 percent."

That commitment is to the regimen of offseason workouts, training camp, preseason games and in-season meetings and practices. That's a grind for any player, but particularly one who's been in the league as long as Favre.

McCarthy, who said he last spoke to Favre last Friday and expects to talk with him again in a couple of days, has worn many hats during his weekly talks with Favre. While trying not to lobby for his return, McCarthy said he talks to him as his head coach, his offensive play-caller, and as a friend who has known him for several years.

"His career is very unique. Who else could he talk to about this?" McCarthy said. "Guys that are 37, 38, 39 years old, that can still play two or three years? And that's his thing. He said, 'I've played a lot of football and I just want to make sure I'm doing the right thing and I want to make sure I can commit 100 percent.'"

Thompson said he talked to Favre earlier this week, and he characterized it as a "nice talk." He dismissed a media report that indicated Favre was upset Thompson hadn't called to talk to him sooner in the offseason.

McCarthy said he and Thompson both told Favre prior to the start of the playoffs in January that they would like him back in 2008. They constantly hear from rival coaches and players that, for their own team's sake, they wouldn't mind seeing Brett hang it up. But those same rivals also say they don't know why he would retire when he's playing so well.

Either way, neither McCarthy nor Thompson has placed a deadline on Favre. Free agency begins late next week, and while Favre's decision could have an impact on whether or not the Packers pursue a veteran backup to Aaron Rodgers in the offseason, it's not as though that pursuit would absolutely need to begin next week.

"He understands the needs of the team and he doesn't want to put the team in a bad spot," Thompson said. "He's working through that."

Strictly from an on-field standpoint, McCarthy is not concerned about how long Favre takes to make up his mind. He's more focused on making sure Favre makes a decision he's fully committed to, adding that Favre is the one who has expressed concern about holding the organization up during this time.

"I wouldn't play any differently with Brett or without Brett," McCarthy said. "Conceptually we'll still attack it the same way. And that's a credit to Aaron Rodgers. Aaron's done a great job preparing for his time, whether it's this year or next year.

"Where we're going right now, we're going through scheme evaluations and we're getting ready for the OTAs and we're building our installations and we've got our new ideas and we're trying to stay one step ahead of the defenses. So it doesn't change anything from a scheme preparation standpoint."

Other news & notes

By putting the franchise tag on defensive tackle Corey Williams, the Packers are maintaining their depth at that position and along the defensive line in general for next season. But there's some uncertainty as to when that depth will all be in place, as Johnny Jolly continues to recover from shoulder surgery stemming from a major shoulder injury on Nov. 18 against Carolina.

{sportsad300}McCarthy said he couldn't guarantee Jolly would be ready for the start of training camp, but that would be the earliest possible return, meaning Jolly will miss the offseason program and OTAs.

"Just like everybody that's come off a major injury or been with a medical situation, we'll play the high side of caution there," McCarthy said. "I'm not going to say he won't be ready for training camp, but it may take all of training camp to get him ready."

Not only does the franchise tag on Williams provide some safeguard should Jolly's return be delayed or suffer a setback, but the decision also reinforces the importance McCarthy and Thompson place on the men in the trenches.

Including Williams with the franchise tender, the Packers could have as many as five players on the defensive line alone (Aaron Kampman, Cullen Jenkins, Ryan Pickett, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and Williams) with contracts paying them veteran salaries far above those from their original rookie contracts.

"We've talked about this before: We like the group maybe better than some people if you picked it apart and individualized them," Thompson said. "We like the group, we like the ability to be versatile, play different positions, and rotate guys in and out of the game. So we felt like that's been helpful to our team."

Like Jolly, another player coming off a shoulder injury will be second-year running back DeShawn Wynn, though he's not expected to be held back during the offseason at all.

Wynn hurt his shoulder in the Denver game on Oct. 29 and was placed on injured reserve. But McCarthy said reports from strength and conditioning coach Rock Gullickson indicate Wynn made significant gains in the weight room over the final six weeks of the season, maximizing on his workouts while he couldn't play.

"That's promising," McCarthy said. "He's gone to every meeting. Call it a redshirt year, whatever. He's a rookie that played a bunch the first eight weeks and then was redshirted and took advantage of it. So I think he has a very promising career."

With the return of Wynn and Noah Herron from IR, a full offseason and training camp for Ryan Grant, and another year of experience for Brandon Jackson and Vernand Morency, McCarthy and Thompson both feel good about the running backs as a whole.

That doesn't preclude them drafting one if the right player is available, but it's a far cry from how the running back position looked at this time last year, just after Ahman Green left in free agency, and Grant, Wynn and Jackson weren't yet on the team. Fullbacks Korey Hall and John Kuhn hadn't arrived in Green Bay yet either.

"We like that group," Thompson said. "We like the possibilities of that group getting better and evolving as a unit."

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