GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Now that the Green Bay Packers have been reshaped into a young team on the rise, it's entirely possible -- maybe even likely -- that Brett Favre will again talk himself out of retirement and return to play next season.
"I would say at this stage of my career -- as opposed to '95 and '96, where you could say, 'We'll get 'em next year' -- a lot can change in a year," Favre said Friday as the Packers returned to practice for their Jan. 12 playoff game. "If you look at last year and the previous year, yeah, it is an opportunity that is right in front of us that hasn't presented itself in quite a while."
Some great players never even win a single championship, of course. But Favre acknowledged Friday that having only one ring gnaws at him.
"I saw where he didn't win the coach of the year, but he was as deserving as anyone," Favre said of McCarthy. "With good reason -- he's taken a team with a lot of young faces, inexperienced faces, a few older guys, and has found a way to win 13 games. That's very difficult to do. So I give him a lot of credit. But you know, the guys here before were pretty good, too." More ...
"I'm disappointed we didn't win more Super Bowls," Favre said. "But you know, I'm not ashamed by anything I did. I'm disappointed in some of those games."
For Favre, next Saturday's playoff game at Lambeau Field is an opportunity to reverse his recent trend of subpar performances in the playoffs.
The Packers are 2-4 in playoff games since January 2002. Favre threw for more than 300 yards in only one of those six games with a combined 10 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
"I'd like to think that we would have or should have won more playoff games, which in turn lead to a chance at the Super Bowl, at least," Favre said. "But I don't know if I would have done anything much different. I think I would have prepared and played the same way. It's just, you have a tendency to remember those, because of what they represent."
"I don't think it factors in how he's played this year and what he's been asked to do in this offense," McCarthy said. "Those are situations that he can learn from as an individual, but I don't think it affects our football team."
McCarthy has, however, talked to the young Packers about appreciating the opportunity in front of them because making it back to the playoffs might not be as easy as it seems right now.
"I told them the story about my first year in the National Football League as a rookie assistant coach," said McCarthy, who began his NFL coaching career as an assistant in Kansas City. "We played in the AFC championship game and went to the Pro Bowl. I thought, 'This is great stuff. Pro football is awesome.' I haven't been back since. It's hard to go 13-3. They realize that, I'm hopeful. They've been told that."
Favre's favorite receiver, Donald Driver, said the Packers aren't out to win one for Brett this year - they just want to win, period.
"I think everybody in this locker room wants to win, not just for him but for themselves," Driver said. "We look at him, he has a ring. He's accomplished that goal already. I think a lot of guys in this locker room want that ring, like myself. So, you're going to go out there and try to win it for yourself. You don't know what he's going to do. We hope that he comes back, and if he (doesn't), then we move on. It would be just great for all of us to be able to have that ring on our finger so we'd be able to show our kids and our grandkids down the line."
Favre said his younger teammates haven't been pestering him for advice on handling playoff pressure. And as far as Favre's concerned, that's just fine.
"I think you have to experience it for yourself," Favre said.
Favre said the playoffs aren't much different from the regular season. It's the consequences that change.
"I believe you play your last game in the regular season the same way you play in the playoffs, but with the understanding that, 'Hey, we lose and we're out,"' Favre said. "Now whatever that means, you'd have to ask each guy individually, 'What does that mean to you?' To me, it means you have to play your best football. If you haven't prepared that well - and only you know that - then you'd better change the way you prepare or we're going to go home."
For now, it remains unclear whether Favre will go home for good at the end of the season. He hasn't directly addressed the issue of retirement, something that has become an annual rite of off-season speculation in Wisconsin.
But when asked whether this season might be his last good shot at another Super Bowl, Favre suggested that next year might be even better: "We may go 14-2 next year, so who knows?"
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press