Packers meet with Favre; reportedly offer QB money to stay away

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy traveled to Mississippi to meet with quarterback Brett Favre and his agent James "Bus" Cook on Wednesday, in an apparent attempt to talk Favre out of reporting to camp later this week.

"The commissioner is taking no action today," league officials said in a statement issued by NFL spokesman Greg Aiello. "He wants to give both the Packers and Brett an appropriate amount of time to make decisions, including decisions impacting the team's roster and salary cap. When Brett is reinstated by the commissioner, we will announce it."

Cook told reporters outside his office in Hattiesburg, Miss., that Favre, who has been throwing to players at a nearby high school to stay in shape, could be in Green Bay on Friday.

"He would love to go back in Green Bay," Cook said. "I mean, that's why he started working out. But right now, it looks like he'll be the quarterback at Oak Grove High School."

Murphy was expected back in Green Bay on Wednesday night, but released a statement:

"I was in Hattiesburg today and had a nice visit with Brett Favre. We discussed a number of topics not related to football, including Bretts long-term relationship with the Packers.

"I consider our conversation to be confidential and am going to be respectful of Brett and his family and keep the details private. Ted (Thompson, Green Bay's general manager) and Mike (McCarthy, the head coach) are going to continue to work on the football side of this issue. They have my full support."

The sidelines at Packers practice Wednesday night were buzzing with a question: Did the Packers offer to pay Favre to stay retired?

The Green Bay Press-Gazette reported on its Web site that the team offered Favre "a substantial salary" to stay away. The report cited sources close to Favre.

Murphy was not available to reporters Wednesday night. McCarthy spoke after the night practice, but hadn't talked to Murphy.

"I don't have any information, I'm just going to be up front with you," McCarthy said. "I haven't talked to Mark Murphy. They just told me about the story that's out there. Sorry, don't have anything for you. Wish I did."

The Packers don't have a full public practice scheduled for Thursday. Players will lift weights, attend meetings and review plays. They'll also hear from a guest speaker: former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer.

"And he was booked a long time ago," McCarthy said, jokingly heading off any questions about the team turning to a public relations expert with damage control experience.

Still, it would be hard to blame Packers staffers if they pulled Fleischer aside for a few pointers.

"We're going to get our money's worth," McCarthy quipped.

Nearly five months after his tearful retirement news conference in March, Favre filed for reinstatement with the NFL on Tuesday. He now is awaiting approval from Goodell.

Once he is reinstated, the Packers will have 24 hours to release him or return him to their active roster. The team has ruled out releasing Favre, fearing he would immediately sign with division rival Minnesota.

The Packers also could trade Favre, although no deal appeared imminent. The Packers hold Favre's rights until his contract expires after the 2010 season.

Despite the apparent purpose of Murphy's trip, McCarthy reiterated Wednesday that Favre "absolutely" was still welcome in Packers camp. Team officials have made it clear, both publicly and to Favre, that he would no longer be the starter if he returned to the team.

"I've said it, and I'll just say it again: He was a big part of our history, and he can reinstate, come here and be part of our future," McCarthy said.

Wide receiver Donald Driver, one of Favre's few remaining close friends on a roster full of young players, seemed skeptical that Favre's position with the team would really be much different.

"He's going to have the same role he's always had," Driver said. "He's always been a leader in this locker room, so I don't think that's going to change. Like I said, you guys are worried more about the issue than we are. We know what he's going to come in and do. He's always been a leader in the locker room, he's going to continue being the leader."

McCarthy acknowledged that the ongoing saga puts Aaron Rodgers in a unique situation, but said Rodgers is handling the situation well. Rodgers has been solid in his first few days of camp, although the Packers' defense seems to be ahead of the offense in the first week of camp.

Packers defensive end Aaron Kampman, Rodgers' close friend and the quarterback's roommate in training camp, said Rodgers is a "tough guy" who will only get tougher under scrutiny.

"He's a grown man," Kampman said. "He's handling it very well. He's done tremendous. I think he continues to validate he's got some special stuff inside of him."

Kampman wasn't sure if Favre really would show up later this week, but admitted it's time for the drama to end.

"I guess the question is not so much, would he be welcome, but will he come back? We don't know that yet," Kampman said. "Again, it's kind of speculative on our part. The day is Friday, so we'll see what happens when that comes. The big picture is, really, I think both parties want to move forward, both parties want a resolution. This is getting very drawn out, from both sides, and quite frankly I think everyone wants it to be over."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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