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Packers Press Conference Transcript

Read the transcript from Thursday’s press conference with President/CEO Mark Murphy, General Manager Ted Thompson and Head Coach Mike McCarthy regarding Wednesday’s trade of Brett Favre to the New York Jets.

Murphy: First, I want to thank you all for coming. I know a number of you have been in Green Bay probably longer than you planned, but it is nice this time of year. I just want to make some brief introductory comments, and then we'll open it up for questions. This is really a bittersweet time for the organization. I think we're all sad to see Brett Favre's career as a Packer end. We are glad that this matter has come to closure in a way that is good for the team and that is good for Brett. We have nothing but the highest regard for Brett and his family. We owe him a debt of gratitude for all he has accomplished on the field and for the impact that he has had for the state, and certainly what he has meant to the league.

I think all of us have said what a difficult situation this has been. We have tried to be fair and we have been very fair to Brett through this process, but ultimately we have always acted in the best interest of the Packers and our organization. We do want to have a long-term relationship with Brett. He will always be a Packer and he's very important to this organization.

Ted, Mike and I, I want to really stress, the three of us have been in complete agreement on every single decision that we have made in this process. I have tremendous respect for both Ted and Mike. Ted has been a true professional through this whole process. In my view, he has no ego. His thought process in every decision is what is in the best interest of this organization. I thought it was really masterful the way that Ted has handled this situation, particularly the trade, in unison with Russ Ball and John Schneider. I just really thought they handled that very well. I wanted to commend Ted for the way he has handled a very difficult situation.

Likewise, Mike has been solid as a rock through this whole process, and really I think one of the main reasons that we finally have had closure to this situation was the difficult and honest and frank conversations that Mike had with Brett. I have also been very impressed with the way Mike has handled this matter with the team. He has kept the team together, and that has not been easy, and he has handled it as a real pro. I know as an organization we have taken hits, and it has split our fans, but it is important as we look to the future that we come together. I am very confident in the future of this organization and we will come through this process, a very difficult process, as a stronger, more unified organization. We're anxious to move forward and focus on the field with a goal of delivering a successful 2008 season to our fans.

(Ted, you will be remembered as the guy who traded Brett Favre. Are you comfortable with that?)

Thompson: No, I don't think anybody would be comfortable with that. This is in many ways sad that this is where it came to. At the end of the day though, I think all parties involved felt like it was the best solution to a very difficult situation. Hopefully we can do things going forward that maybe people will not remember that, but the answer to your question is no.

(When you got ready to pull the trigger on the deal, did you kind of have to take a deep breath before you made it official?)

Thompson: Yes. When the trade papers actually came and I was going to sign it, which would be my job, I almost wanted someone else to sign it, but yes.

(Ted, his comments have been particularly acrimonious toward you. Do you feel like there is anything you could have done differently?)

Thompson: I think, as with everything we do here with the Packers in our management positions, whether it be Mike with his coaching staff or Mark with his staff, once we get through the draft, we always go back and do a thorough study of how things got to where they got. In this case, quite frankly, I don't have all of the answers and never have in this particular case. We will go back and do a study. My first-blush guess is probably communication breakdown. When one group of people are in Wisconsin and another group of people are down in Mississippi, sometimes you think that everybody understands where everybody is, but then all of a sudden the communication becomes sometimes even through the media. What someone reads in the paper, not that you guys would slant the truth, but what some people read in the paper was actually said by somebody else, and then all of a sudden I think breakdowns come down, and that's my responsibility. So yeah, I think that, but I don't have all of the answers in terms of what we could have done to have done this better. I do think that we tried to do the best that we could all of the time, but I'm not sure that we didn't make mistakes.

(A lot of fans and scouts are wondering why you wouldn't go with Brett as the starter. Why was changing course in July going to be particularly difficult?)

Thompson: I think as a football organization and for the football team, you make certain commitments that this is what we are going to do. We have talked about this before of how all of this got to this point, so I'm not going to bring all of that back up, but I do think you make commitments and you say, OK, we're going to try to do this. It's a difficult task but we're going to try to do it. Things changed when he was reinstated. That was when he came back up here and our first point of interest would be for Mike, as the head football coach, to sit and talk with him and see where he was. Talk about different options, and that was and is and has been the focus of Mike's whole role in this, was as a football coach to talk to a player and find out how this is going to best work going forward. We kind of went through those things and at the end of the day, Brett, myself, and I think even Mike, felt like the only solution going forward would be to quote, unquote 'part ways'. Then you get to the impasse of how do you do that? Because one person's best ways might be different than another person's best idea of how we should go about doing that.

(You knew of the comments he had made about you, and were those same feelings expressed to you face-to-face? Did you sense animosity?)

Thompson: No, it never has when he and I have spoken directly. I think it is fair to say, and I don't want to speak for him and what he was thinking, I think there were some feelings there that he felt were hard to let go, that somewhere during the course of the past little bit that maybe he perceived something. We didn't speak about it directly. I don't want to give the impression that it was all hunky-dory, but we had a very good conversation, a long talk, and it was not uncomfortable for either of us, but there might have been some residual.

(Brett claimed that he couldn't move past those things. Do you think you would have been able to move past those things?)

Thompson: Yes, I do, but it's different in my role as opposed to a player, I think.

(Why couldn't the whole process of parting ways been done a few weeks back so it didn't linger over the past few weeks?)

Thompson: I don't know. There was communication, but when you are sitting face-to-face, I think that's better. I think with the actual reinstatement, that is a commitment beyond being, well, I'm thinking I might want to play or something, so then you have to kind of sit and talk it out.

(From the time he said he wanted his release, wasn't that the time to meet face-to-face?)

Thompson: We had some conversations. It's again that through the whole thing, once he said he was wanting to come back and wanted to play, there was always this underlying thing about how to get past the impasse. Like you say, he wanted a release. That was something we weren't comfortable with and there weren't any other options that appealed to him at that time.

(Could you clarify what the compensation is and confirm if there is additional compensation if he is traded to another team?)

Thompson: I don't think I would care to speak on any of the terms of the trade.

(Was there any concern that since it was the Jets and not Tampa Bay that Brett might not want to go there?)

Thompson: No. I sat on the couch in Russ' office all day yesterday, and most of the discussions were between Brett and his party and any teams that might have been involved. That was their role, and then from time to time we would get updates on how those talks were going. For a team to say, OK, we're going to do this, then we felt comfortable obviously that they weren't going to do it if they felt like Brett wasn't on board.

(Can you take us through the whole process of the trade after Mike met with him?)

Thompson: Like I said, Mike and myself, I think it was Tuesday night, we had extensive conversations and it appeared to be that was going to be the way things would go. Then on Wednesday, we met with Brett and Deanna and Mr. Cook over at Brett's house. In the course of about an hour-long conversation, I think each side sort of presented their case why they couldn't get away from this impasse. Then I think at that particular point it was sort of understood that, OK, then we'll look at these options, and I think that is when the whole interaction between other teams and Brett and his group got going. Then the next day those talks and conversations were all day. Part of that day I think Brett and his group were traveling back to Hattiesburg, and it concluded last night. We had no idea which way it would go during the course of the day just because that's the way it works like that. So we kind of just sat there and waited, and we were informed at about 10:00, something like that.

(Logistically, are you talking to Mike Tannenbaum and Bruce Allen?)

Thompson: Well, John Schneider would have been the lead communicator. Obviously I had some conversations with different parties.

(Just to be clear, you had to wait to hear from Brett if he would approve the team before you closed the deal?)

Thompson: No, there were conversations with Brett and Bus with teams, and then those teams would kind of let us know how things went on.

(If he preferred to go to Tampa, why not trade him there, even if the compensation is a little less?)

Thompson: I think really the only team I can speak to is the Jets. The Jets are the ones that made the trade. They were very aggressive, very active. They did a great job of selling themselves and selling the opportunity to Brett and that group, and we felt like that was the best thing for us and we thought that it was a good thing for him.

(Is there any part of you that is afraid that the better he does the worse it will look for you?)

Thompson: No. Despite opinions to the contrary, I like Brett a lot. I'd love to see him have the time of his life. I'm wishing him well, that he does well. I think all football fans want to see him do well, and we pray he will.

(You don't fear the fallout if the Jets have a great season?)

Thompson: No, I don't. I don't think you can function as a human being like that. I'm not saying that I am holier than thou or anything like that; it's just I don't look at things like way. Brett has been obviously an unbelievable legend here as a Green Bay Packer, and I think even though he is going to do it in a different uniform, I think all of us would like to see him do well.

(Were some of the differences rooted beyond just his itch in June, where differences became almost unmanageable the prior two or three years as far as the direction of the franchise?

Thompson: No, I don't think so. I think quite frankly, here we go again kind of re-hashing, but he retired and then after a while we go through the draft, we've sort of committed going in a different direction and we think that's the way it's probably going to go. Then things started changing. I don't think there was any particular time when differences arose. It's just obviously the farther you get along the more complicated it gets. Quite frankly, even though we think we could made it through, obviously it would have been an awkward situation.

(Mark, you had a direction that you were going, but why did the team decide five weeks ago that you were better off going on without Brett as your quarterback?)

Murphy: That's a football decision, and I think Ted and Mike can answer that. I just wanted to follow up on the question of, 'why didn't you do it six weeks ago as opposed to now?' I think we have all said that this has obviously been a difficult situation from the beginning, and we've been at an impasse for quite a while, I think we didn't think he would show up to camp and they didn't think we wanted him to come to camp. I think in any negotiation there has to come a pressure point, and I think the pressure point was him being reinstated and coming up here. Then ultimately I think the real key was, as we said, Mike having that honest conversation with him and an agreement reached between Mike and Brett. Again, that gets us to the point where we had closure.

(Was that part of your plan, to stay on the high road, and not expect him to show up for camp?)

Murphy: This has been such a crazy situation. To say anybody had a plan for how it would all play out, you can't say that. We always wanted to take the high road, for the reasons I said. He's an iconic player who's meant so much to this organization. We wanted to make sure that we always treated him fairly, always honestly, respectfully. But still, the key, it's always been we have to act in the long-term best interests of the organization. And I think every decision that we've made, that's been the backdrop. Is this going to help us become a better organization in the long run.

(Did you try everything you could to keep him from coming to Green Bay?)

Murphy: Ultimately it was Brett's decision. And I think, if he wanted to come back, he was welcome. We welcomed him. And then it was really a football decision with Mike sitting down with Brett.

(Do you regret the fact that the marketing deal was perceived as trying to buy him off?)

Murphy: Let me just say, it was a marketing deal, and this is something as an organization that we've been talking about even before I got here. People said Brett has been so special to the organization, we want to have a long-term relationship with him. When he retired, shortly after that we started talks with him about having a long-term relationship, and it would be a business deal that made sense for us and for him. But then as time went on and he changed his mind, obviously it was off the table. Quite honestly, I went down to Hattiesburg, as president of the organization, we were in a very difficult spot, both Brett and the organization, and wanted to just meet with him face-to-face and just say listen, can we talk about this, is there a way to find a positive resolution for us and for you. We talked about a number of different things, and the more we talked about it, the idea of the marketing deal made sense as maybe a way to resolve this. But again, it was all based on, this is only if you don't want to play. If you want to play, come back. And again, we can't speak for Brett, but he was in a difficult situation, because we were not going to release him and we weren't going to trade him in the division. Those were things he wanted, and he wasn't sure whether he wanted to come back here, so I think the opportunity to perhaps have a marketing relationship with us was attractive, but ultimately he decided he wanted to play. But not for Green Bay.

(Ted or Mike, why did you decide in the offseason that you didn't want to change course and bring him back as the starter?)

McCarthy: I'd like to talk. Just kidding. I'll just say this. It was not a matter of changing course. That's the part I think we need to get corrected. And I think Brett's view of what reinstatement meant was different than what my view of reinstatement meant. Because I've said all along, and we talked about this openly, I never thought that he was really going to play this year. I thought there was a number of things going through his head, he was in a different mindset for a number of different reasons. I don't want to sit up here and talk for Brett. But the reinstatement was what I was looking for, because my focus was clearly very tight on the football team, the direction was set for the football team, and I used the reference about the train moving down the track. And he was welcome to get on the train, but we never really got to that spot because of where Brett was at as far as everything that had happened. And I was not going to let the hypothetical enter our locker room, because it wasn't in the best interests of our football team. He was either going to be here, or he wasn't going to be here, and when he finally reinstated, that's when the door opened for that conversation to happen. And that's why we sat down Monday night and Tuesday morning and talked the way we did. I thought it was very important for me to protect the football team from that. I understand everything that's gone on. I've had a pretty good chair in this situation. I've been in a lot of communication throughout the summer, and obviously of late with Brett. I just think it was important to keep it as tight as possible for the football team to focus, because when we got to this spot, we knew it was going to be difficult to focus and get through our training camp.

(It seemed like Brett's camp leaked out the marketing deal and critical comments about Ted. Would that have made it difficult to have that trust and have him back as the starter?)

McCarthy: I think it's very evident there's a lot of things that were said, but were they said or weren't they said. I think it's important to acknowledge that. I'm not going to try to referee it. I'm not going to take into account what's in the paper or what's said. I think it's important, and I think Ted has already referenced that, you need to look one another eye-to-eye and have that conversation, and that's really where we were on Monday night and Tuesday. And I was just looking for him to tell me that he was ready to play for the Green Bay Packers, and if we would have gotten to that point, then our conversation would have continued, OK. And it did not get to that point, and that's the facts. Because once again, it's about the football team. I clearly understand, appreciate what Brett has done for this franchise. He's a remarkable football player. I've enjoyed coaching him, he's fun to watch, and I'm sure I will watch him when he does play. But until we got past that spot, I was not going to expose the football team to that. I think that would have been very poor leadership and management on my part.

(If he had said to you on June 20 he wanted to come back and play for the Packers and reinstated then, would you have welcomed him back?)

McCarthy: I'll just say this, and Brett and I talked about all these things at length. If this would have been worded differently, or if I would have worded this differently, we both agreed that both parties could probably have done things better from a communication standpoint, and that's what I stated the other day when I was up here. We agreed to disagree. We were on opposite sides of the fence of what happened, how we got to this spot, but we're into this spot. And frankly, our last conversation was just about both of us just taking the high road. It's a bad situation that was created for all the reasons, however you want to illustrate that, but we were in a tough spot. He wanted to get it resolved, we wanted to get it resolved, take the high road out of the situation and move on. Once again, we wish him the best. I think Ted said it clearly, there's no ill feelings. He has a positive reputation within this organization. I think it's important to get that communicated, and we do wish him the best in New York.

(How did you part ways and when he finally does retire, will it take a while to mend that fence to the point he feels welcome to come back?)

McCarthy: I know the communication that we had, he's a Green Bay Packer. He wants to come back here, he wants to be welcome back here. We talked about him coming back when he does retire and working training camp, just something so he can be part of it. I told him he can help with the quarterbacks, but I don't want any new plays. This is important to him, he recognizes that. When you step out of what's happened and everything, he has a very positive opinion about the fans, the experience he's had with his family. He didn't want to do this to his teammates anymore. He felt it clearly went along long enough.

(Did ability come into play at any point? If you still feel like he can play at a high level, why isn't he back?)

McCarthy: That's a question that keeps being asked, just like Pete's question earlier. It never got to that point, and that needs to be clarified here. It was never a matter of if Brett Favre can play. He finished No. 2 in the league in MVP voting I think someone said. He's still in all of our cut-ups. I'm very in tune with what his level of play is. That was never the factor. In my opinion, and based on our communication, and all the communication throughout all this process, I was never truly convinced that he was going to play. Now, he wants to play. He should play. We got to a tough spot, and this is why it ended up why we're here today. But it was never about he's one of your 53 why isn't he playing. We never got to that point, and that's something that needs to be clarified here.

(If you were more open to him playing, would he be here?)

McCarthy: See, you didn't listen to what I just said. You keep asking the same question over and over. We never got to that point.

(But why?)

McCarthy: The commitment to play this year.

Murphy: One thing I will just say, it wasn't Brett's fault and it wasn't our fault, but the relationship got to a point where it couldn't go forward. Don't try to blame either side. It's like a marriage that ends. It happens. Neither party is at fault, but you move forward. And I think Mike's right, we want to have a long-term relationship with Brett, and I think he does too. I think that's important to him.

(If you had told him he would be the starter, he would have been here, right?)

McCarthy: Totally disagree with you Bob. I hear your opinion, it's not accurate. It's not accurate to the facts that I've presented to you. I need to protect the football team. It is about the football team. I understand how large Brett is. And he totally agrees with my focus. We talked about it openly, we talked about moving forward to try to get to that spot, but we did not get there. That's the truth. You can keep asking me the same question. My answer is not going to change.

(What were you going to do with him, a rep here and a rep there, insurance in case Rodgers got hurt, or serve as the backup period?)

McCarthy: We had a distinct plan, and Brett and I engaged in that conversation, but frankly, our football team doesn't need to hear about it. Because it's not going to happen. It's a hypothetical once again, and it's a question I was asked continuously since training camp started, and frankly it's irrelevant right now.

(Why are you trying to hide that?)

McCarthy: I'm protecting my football team.

(Was there a concern of going back on the promise to Aaron Rodgers of being the starter?)

McCarthy: OK Bob, you win, I'll answer the question. You can laugh little bit. I thought that was pretty funny. Ted Thompson and I and Mark talked about if we got to that spot, that we would let Brett compete for his position, and I talked to Brett about that, and he felt that was clearly the best way to go. He had no problem competing, but once again, we could not get past that. That's as far as the conversation went. He was going to have the opportunity to compete for his spot.

{sportsad300}(Do you still have to have the conversation with the players as far as what the plan was, even though it didn't happen?)

McCarthy: I'll just say this. The players have a complete understanding of our plan, of everything that's happened. They're abreast of everything that's gone on. But they've moved past it. It's a situation that will not occur.

(Ted, some people on the outside say Brett was not your guy and Aaron Rodgers was. Do you realize how difficult it will be for you if Aaron doesn't succeed?)

Thompson: Right. Well, this is a high-risk business. This is the National Football League. We understand that when we sign on. Yeah, does that put us at risk. But there's all kinds of risks in the NFL, there's all kinds of risks in life. You make the best decisions you can based on what you believe is in the best interests of the Green Bay Packers, and you do it firmly and you do it the way a leader is supposed to do it. That's what we try to do every day with every decision we make.

(Mike, you said you had questions from players and coaches for Brett. What did they want answers to?)

McCarthy: I really don't want to speak for the players, but pretty much the same as everybody wanted to know. We just wanted to know if he was committed to playing for the Green Bay Packers, and I think it goes back to the step of reinstatement. What did that mean? Talking openly with Brett, like I said, you're one of 80. My responsibility is to best utilize the 80 players on the roster, so how are we going to go forward. And we were never able to go forward.

(Do you think the players are behind your decision?)

McCarthy: The players are about playing football, and it's about having an opportunity. If Brett Favre was here as one of our 80, he would have an opportunity. And every man in that room, I don't want to speak for them, but I think they would have been fine with that. Because it's very difficult to make a football team, they clearly understand his place in history here and his role on our team in the past, but for us to move forward, it needed to be all about between the white lines and the green grass. Because as a football team, we were in training camp, we're moving forward as a football team, preparing for the season, and for him to be part of that, he needed to jump on the train and keep going with us.

(We can assume that the jersey retirement won't take place. Do you think in the future you might wait a year or two before doing that, in case a player comes out of retirement like Brett or Reggie White?)

Murphy: I'm glad you asked about the retirement ceremony for his jersey. Obviously we're not going to have it Sept. 8. We will retire his jersey in the future, and again, that goes back to what he's done here. He deserves that. But it will be at a point when we know he's absolutely done with his playing career. Ted and I talked actually a little bit about that. I think in the future we will. It seemed great when we did it at the time, and obviously it didn't turn out that way. The other thing I said to Ted is let's hope that we have a lot of players in the future that are good enough that we want to retire their jerseys. That's a good problem to have.

(Did Brett go home because he wasn't going to compete with Aaron Rodgers or Brian Brohm? You said you were going to let him compete, with no opportunity to become the starter ...)

McCarthy: I didn't say that. We never got past that point. I don't know how else to keep making the point clear. Brett didn't think that he could play here in Green Bay based on everything that has happened. And we came to an agreement to resolve the situation. I don't know how else to keep expressing it.

(What can the three of you do to make sure your legacy isn't that you traded Brett?)

Thompson: Well, I think our job is to do what we try to do every day, do the very best we can to put this team in a position to win games and to represent this community and this state and all the Packer fans around the country well. That's all you can do, is try to do your job and do it well.

Murphy: The focus is now on the field and having a great season.

(When you went down to Hattiesburg, why didn't you see that as a trap since Brett's side was leaking information to the media, and that the marketing offer would have been perceived as a bribe?)

Murphy: I think it goes back to, again, I think we have taken pride in this whole situation of being honest and fair and dealing with them openly. I went down there trying to help Brett out of a situation and to help us out of a situation. I entered into discussions of a very private nature, and I thought they were sincere that this was a way to get out of a difficult situation. Obviously as I look back on it, I would do things differently. We were trying to come up with a way to help both sides out of a very difficult situation.

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