Brett Favre finally is speaking for himself: He wants to play but doesn’t feel welcome in Green Bay, so he’s asking to be released.
The quarterback’s first substantial comments about his latest retirement decision reversal came in a Monday interview with Fox News on “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.”
“OK, you guys have a different path, fine,” Favre said, recalling a June 20 conversation with Packers coach Mike McCarthy. “What does that mean for me? So that means either you give me my helmet, welcome [me] back, or release me, or attempt to trade me. We all know that’s a possibility, but way-out-there possibility.
“And he says, ‘Well, playing here is not an option, but we can’t envision you playing with another team, you know, either.’ And I thought, so basically, I’m not playing for anyone if I choose to come back.”
According to Van Susteren, who spoke to the AP by telephone Monday afternoon, Favre said he was “never fully committed” to retiring and felt pressured by the Packers to make a decision, a notion Packers general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy tried to dispel in an interview with the AP on Saturday.
“Ted always wanted Brett back,” McCarthy said. “We always wanted Brett back.”
The team had no immediate reaction to Favre’s interview Monday.
“We currently have nothing to add on this matter,” a team spokesman said.
Favre told Fox he understands that the Packers want to move on — but if they’re doing so, they should let him go.
“Them moving on does not bother me,” Favre said. “It doesn’t. I totally understand that. By me retiring March 3, I knew that could possibly happen. All I was saying is, you know, I’m thinking about playing again.”
Favre said he has thought about the ramifications of playing for another team, moving to another city and angering some Packers fans.
“You know, the bottom line is, I may not play anywhere,” Favre said. “But we have thought of all those things. We have thought about it.”
Van Susteren — who is from Appleton, Wis., is a Packers shareholder and previously had interviewed Favre and his wife, Deanna — said Favre made it clear he would not return to the Packers if he wasn’t the starter. And while Favre said the Packers asked him for a list of teams to which he would accept a trade, he wants to be released to make sure he ends up on a competitive club.
Thompson said the team wasn’t going to release Favre, but he could come back in a “different role than he was” because the team is committed to going forward with Aaron Rodgers.
“You’re telling me playing there is not an option, but playing elsewhere, we just can’t — we’re trying to protect your legacy,” Favre said. “Well, thank you. I appreciate that. But apparently now, they’re trying to protect my legacy by bringing me back and having me be a backup. Boy, that is really good.”
Thompson and McCarthy wouldn’t discuss the possibility of trading Favre and said they hadn’t received any trade inquiries as of Saturday.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel received a complete transcript of the interview, including segments that were not aired. Favre outlined other instances that created this rift with the Packers.
Favre told Van Susteren that “I worked my butt off two years ago to try to get them to sign Randy Moss.”
Favre added that he offered to give up salary to sign the receiver who ultimately landed with the New England Patriots.
Favre said that Thompson publicly denied that the quarterback had lobbied for Moss.
Favre also said that he tried to convince Thompson to re-sign linemen Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle, but the two key contributors signed elsewhere.
In a final instance that riled the quarterback, Favre said he told Thompson that he should interview Steve Mariucci, an old friend, for the head coaching job after Mike Sherman left. Mike McCarthy was hired instead.
“And none of those had anything to do with me retiring once again but, you know, it’s hard for me to trust, you know, this guy when I — either I’m told one thing and everyone else is told another, or he’s telling the public one thing and telling me another,” Favre said, according to the newspaper. “And so — and that’s part of the reason for [requesting] the release. Not only was I told that playing here was not an option, we’re moving on — it’s kind of in their company line, moving on. That’s OK.”
Thompson and McCarthy gave AP a detailed description of their dealings with Favre throughout the offseason, including an episode a few weeks after Favre’s retirement when the two were prepared to fly to Mississippi to seal the deal on a Favre comeback — only to have the quarterback change his mind again.
A portion of Favre’s interview aired Monday. A second segment is scheduled to air Tuesday.
“If you move on, you tell me one thing, don’t come back and tell the public … just say it, ‘You know, we’ve moved on and we’ll work with Brett on whatever it is,'” Favre said. “Don’t make up a lot of stuff or give half of the truth.”
McCarthy and Thompson also expressed concern Saturday that Favre spent most of the offseason questioning whether he still had the commitment to play football. But Favre told Fox News it wasn’t going to be an issue.
“If I’m going to play, it’s going to be 100 percent commitment,” Favre said.
Favre’s interview — which was receiving top billing over an interview with presidential candidate John McCain in promos for Van Susteren’s show that aired during the day Monday — is the latest development in what is looking more and more like an irreparable schism between one of the NFL’s most storied franchises and perhaps its most beloved quarterback.
Thompson called the situation “gut-wrenching” Saturday.
“I mean, it hurts,” he said. “I’m not talking about physically hurting, but the sensitivity. We understand where the fans are coming from. This is a hot-button issue that surpasses anything I’ve ever gone through.”