Despite an avalanche of acrimony that ultimately led to Brett Favre playing for the New York Jets last season, the Green Bay Packers want to honor the quarterback by retiring his No. 4 jersey at the "appropriate" time.
But even Favre -- who announced his second, and perhaps final, retirement from the NFL on Wednesday -- isn't sure when the time might be right to heal his still-smoldering rift with the franchise that traded him.
"It's a shame what has unfolded throughout the whole thing," Favre said during a conference call with reporters. "But I don't know. I don't know. I don't have an answer for that right now. It may be five years, it may be the first game."
And Favre hinted that the continued presence of the man who traded him, Packers general manager Ted Thompson, might play a role in when he's ready to return to Green Bay.
"He had his reasonings, I had my reasonings," Favre said of his past disagreements with Thompson. "Who's to say who's right and who's wrong. He has a plan. I'm not mad at him for that. Other people may be, but I don't know. It's a touchy situation."
Wednesday's retirement announcement was Favre's second in less than a year, coming after several offseasons' worth of public indecision about his football future.
Favre waved a tearful goodbye in his Packers retirement news conference last March, but he almost immediately began having second thoughts and privately told the team that he wanted to come back and play. Thompson and Packers head coach Mike McCarthy were prepared to welcome him back -- only to have Favre change his mind once again and stay retired.
After several weeks' worth of public bickering that ended with a conversation between Favre and McCarthy -- at which point the coach determined the quarterback wasn't in the right "mind-set" to play for the Packers any more -- the team worked out a trade with the Jets, and Favre accepted it.
But the Packers put the ugly episode aside Wednesday, issuing a statement congratulating Favre on his 18-year career and reiterating their intention to eventually welcome him back to Green Bay.
"Congratulations to Brett on a remarkable career," the team said in the statement. "The Packers organization wishes him and his family well. Brett always will hold a special place in Green Bay Packers history, and we remain committed to retiring his number at an appropriate time in the future."
Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy also has said that a multimillion-dollar marketing agreement with Favre still could be on the table when the quarterback is done playing for good. The deal originally was offered to Favre last summer, while he still seemed to be wavering on his decision to unretire.
Favre reiterated his love for Green Bay teammates and fans Wednesday, but he seemed to have trouble hiding his distaste for Thompson.
"My stay in Green Bay was unbelievable, unbelievable," Favre said. "And not one thing could take that away, not one person. And that organization has been outstanding to me throughout my career. It is what it is. It's unfortunate. But at some point, it'll be dealt with."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press