Thompson, Teammates Excited Favre's Coming Back

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Ted Thompson was in a meeting Friday morning when his cell phone rang, and when he noticed on his caller ID that it was Brett Favre trying to reach him, the Packers General Manager quickly excused himself and then heard what he was hoping to from his future Hall of Fame quarterback.

"He said something about, 'I think I'm going to give it another shot,'" Thompson said at his news conference on Friday afternoon. "And I said, 'That sounds good to me.'"

So with that, the Packers welcomed Favre back for his 16th season as the team's starting quarterback and his 17th NFL season overall. Within minutes, Thompson relayed the news to Head Coach Mike McCarthy while Favre called a reporter and friend at the Biloxi Sun Herald, and the news spread like wildfire through the media and on the internet.

"I am so excited about coming back," Favre told the newspaper. "We have a good nucleus of young players. We were 8-8 last year and that's encouraging.

"My offensive line looks good, the defense played good down the stretch. I'm excited about playing for a talented young football team."

Favre also contacted some of his teammates, including favorite receiver Donald Driver, who has been in Miami all week for promotional activities leading up to the Super Bowl.

"I'm excited," said Driver, who missed Favre's call but got the news in a voice-mail. "I love the guy so much and I'm glad he made the decision to come back and be with the team another year."

Driver's words speak for everyone in the Packers organization, which enters McCarthy's second and Thompson's third year in charge with optimism abounding from the four-game winning streak to end the 2006 season.

Thompson said Favre didn't specifically tell him why he decided to return, but the team's prospects clearly had an impact.

"In our conversations prior to the end of the season, I knew he was having a good time, and he liked the team and he liked being around the team," Thompson said.

"It's good. I think like most people that like the game of football, they like the fact that Brett Favre is playing. I think it's certainly good for the Packers and good for this team, and it's good for the NFL. I think as long as he's healthy and happy and playing, I think it's a good thing for all of us."

Thompson said he and McCarthy gave Favre personal time to make his decision with his family, but the thought from the beginning is he would decide far sooner than last year, when it was late April before the Packers knew Favre would be returning.

This year, the Packers know before the start of free agency March 2, and just as the front office will be starting its pre-draft meetings on Saturday. Thompson said he's pleased to be bringing back the quarterback duo of Favre and Aaron Rodgers, whose recovery from a broken foot is progressing well, and he's confident Favre will continue to play at a high level in 2007.

"I haven't seen any evidence of any declining physical ability for him to play the game," Thompson said. "I think he's one of those rare birds that you see once in a generation that can play at a very, very high level for an extended amount of time."

More than anything, Favre's return gives the Packers their best opportunity to build on the success and momentum established at the end of 2006, when they put together a four-game winning streak to finish .500 at 8-8.

"We had a chance to get through the turnover, with everybody coming in, the coaching staff, new teammates, things like that," running back Ahman Green said. "With everybody with a year under their belt playing together is going to be good. We should definitely give the Bears some competition this year."

{sportsad300}The Packers showed that in the season finale with a convincing 26-7 win at Chicago on New Year's Eve. Favre caught many fans and teammates off-guard in an emotional post-game interview on live television that indicated he may be leaning toward retirement.

But Favre told the Biloxi newspaper that he knew in the locker room after the Chicago game that he wanted to come back. He just needed time to get away and discuss it with his family.

"It's kind of a surprise from what I saw at the end of the last game," Green said. "I didn't think he was going to (continue playing). Hearing that, it lets me know he's still got some fight in him."

Younger players like A.J. Hawk also feel he's got the leadership skills that will work for this Packers team.

"I think it's huge," Hawk said. "Having a guy like him just around on your team helps everyone out, from the rookies on up. This team obviously has a bunch of young guys that are growing and getting better, and he's the right guy to lead us. Everyone couldn't be more excited for him.

"I was hoping he would be back and it's something where this whole organization and everyone that's a fan of football is happy he's going to be back in the league playing. Especially these guys on this team can't wait to get him back out here and see what he can do going into next year. We feel good about it."

Hawk added that Favre obviously feels good about the team as well or he wouldn't have wanted to come back.

"He sees the potential on this team and how well we think we can play," Hawk said. "We definitely didn't play up to our potential last year, but it's something where if we can get this thing rolling and get everyone on the same page like we were the last four games or so last year, then we'll feel pretty good going into next year.

"I think he saw that, and he obviously still has a ton of talent left and has a fire for the game."

Enough fire to get the Packers back to the playoffs for the first time since 2004 perhaps. And beyond that? At least one teammate is well aware of where Super Bowl XLII is being played.

"We showed the last four games of the season that we can go out and execute every time we're on the field," Driver said. "We finished .500 and had an opportunity to get in the playoffs, and with him coming back, hopefully we can make the playoffs and who knows, maybe next year we'll be in Arizona."

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