Patrick Reusse: No clamor at all for Favre's return

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 10, 2008 - 9:24 AM

How about that? Wisconsin sports fans, including those loyal Cheeseheads, are showing they can survive life without No. 4.

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As far as the Packers are concerned, the Brett Favre Era is done, even if talk of his possible return won't subside.

Photo: Ron Kuenstler, Associated Press

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Drew Olson spent many years as a hard-working baseball writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Four years ago, he climbed on the gravy train of sports talk radio.

He's part of a three-hour morning show on 540 AM, the ESPN station in Milwaukee. He's also the senior editor at onmilwaukee.com.

On Wednesday, Olson was asked which of this week's enormous Wisconsin sports stories is carrying the most intrigue with callers:

A) Brett Favre's apparent desire to return to the Green Bay Packers or B) pitcher CC Sabathia's acquisition by the Milwaukee Brewers.

"We've been devoting two-thirds of our time to CC and the Brewers, and one-third to Favre," Olson said. "And that's stunning. How long has Favre been here ... 16, 17 years? It's never been like this.

"The Brewers haven't been in the playoffs for 25 years. Finally, there's a pennant race, instead of just a sausage race. What the fans here are jacked about is the Brewers and bringing in Sabathia, even with the text messages and subterfuge surrounding Favre."

The latest leak from the Favre camp was that he sent a text message last weekend to Ted Thompson, only to be informed that the Packers general manager was on vacation and would get back to him on his return.

Certainly, this must have infuriated the Packers Faithful, a group no doubt united in the belief that Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy should embrace Favre's now-obvious desire to return. Right?

"I wouldn't have said this in April, but the public sentiment seems to be against him," Olson said. "People are sick of the will-he or won't-he. Of course, there are the diehards who are buried in number 4, but the fans we're talking to are saying, 'It's time to move on.'"

Favre's conniving for a comeback has guaranteed that his successor, Aaron Rodgers, will be abused by the fans after every loss, if not every incompletion.

"Brett's put Rodgers in a horrible position, and guess what?" Olson said. "He doesn't care about him. He didn't like the fact the Packers drafted a quarterback in the first round three years ago. I don't think he likes him as a guy, either."

How did it come to this -- that Favre, the player who turned indifference toward the Packers in the 1970s and '80s into an ongoing run of fanaticism, is in danger of derailing a 13-3 team from 2007 because he wants to play?

It started in January with Favre's abysmal effort in the NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field. Once again, he went home to Mississippi to contemplate his future. He was waiting for the traditional calls from the Packers' hierarchy urging him to return.

This time, there was no attempt to massage Favre's massive ego. All he heard from Thompson was, "Give us a decision soon."

On Wednesday, Olson said: "They pressed him for a decision, he was a little miffed and said, 'OK, I'm going to retire,' and he probably regretted it the next day."

The Packers moved on with Rodgers taking charge of the offseason workouts. They expressed the same optimism about his growth as a quarterback as did the Vikings with Tarvaris Jackson.

And now this: Favre's people slipping the information to media members hither and yon that he wants to come back, but that mean old Ted Thompson doesn't want him.

"From what I hear, the support with the fans in Green Bay is about 50-50 on having Brett back," said Dave Sinykan, KFAN-AM's host of Packer Preview for the past dozen years.

"We all love Brett, but most Packers fans also realize they have spent months changing the offense to fit Rodgers. I can't imagine they are prepared to junk all of that.

"This has to be resolved in the next few days. The Packers can't start training camp with this over their heads."

Sinykan sees this as the best-case scenario for his team: The Packers make it clear again to Favre that they have "moved on, that's it's the right time for Aaron Rodgers, and Brett goes away."

That would be the classy way for Favre to handle it, but right now, it appears his class -- always ample as a competitor -- is being overwhelmed by a well-known and bottomless ego.

Patrick Reusse can be heard weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP at 6:45 and 7:45 a.m. and at 4:40 p.m. • preusse@startribune.com

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