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Allen says Bucs never had serious negotiations involving Favre

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- No more rumors, no more speculation about Brett Favre.

With Tampa Bay no longer a potential destination for the iconic quarterback coming out of retirement, a sense of normalcy returned to Buccaneers' training camp on Thursday. There was even a denial that the team was ever a serious player in trade talks with the Green Bay Packers.

"There was no negotiation. There was never any substantive talk of what they would take," general manager Bruce Allen said. "All of that was speculation. From the beginning, I think it was clear it was a bad situation in Green Bay and they had to deal with it any way they could."

Even for Allen, who's rarely forthcoming with information about team matters, it was a curious way to try to spin the club's interest in Favre, who was dealt to the New York Jets late Wednesday after saying the Bucs were in the mix, too.

But the Tampa Bay GM insisted he never felt the Packers intended to trade Favre to an NFC team and, therefore, the Bucs did not make an offer for the Super Bowl-winning quarterback and three-time league MVP.

"Green Bay never told us what they were interested in trading him for," said Allen, who also insisted talks did not progress to the point that Tampa Bay ever tried to sell Favre himself on the idea of playing for the Bucs.

"Really it never got to any of that. He wasn't a free agent. We never believed they were going to release him. That wasn't their intention. It wasn't that type of process."

While the Bucs never publicly acknowledged interest in Favre as a replacement for Jeff Garcia, the club also failed to take advantage of numerous opportunities to squash speculation about coach Jon Gruden's desire to acquire him.

Asked if he expects Garcia, who led the Bucs to a division title and was selected to play in the Pro Bowl last season, to believe that the club had no interest in Favre, Allen launched into damage-control mode.

"I said we never believed they were going to trade him to the Buccaneers," the GM said.

So, then why did Tampa Bay pursue the matter as far as it did, including talking to Favre directly?

"We're going to listen to people's thoughts if there's a way it'll benefit the Buccaneers," Allen said. "We're going to keep our ears open."

Gruden, a receivers coach in Green Bay when the Packers acquired Favre in 1992, spoke by telephone with the quarterback before the trade.

"No. 1, I'm happy for Brett Favre. I think if you saw the look in his eyes and heard the expression in his voice, this guy has been through a lot," the Bucs coach said.

"He's a friend of mine, and a guy I care a lot about. I think everybody in the league cares about him. I did talk to him. Had a good idea as to what the situation was, and I'm happy it all worked out for him. I certainly wish him the best. The Jets are fortunate."

Garcia, who has been sidelined the past week with a calf sprain, did not participate in a night practice and was not available for comment. He was unhappy during the offseason with the lack of progress on a contract extension, and needless to say was less than thrilled about the club's pursuit of Favre.

"I'm sure Jeff wasn't real pleased with the reports," Gruden said.

"At the same time, hopefully at the end of the day he'll understand and know we have a lot of respect for him. Hopefully, we can get him signed to a long-term deal because he's a heck of a quarterback."

Allen thinks Garcia will be fine.

"Coach Gruden and Jeff's relationship goes back a long way. ... The American way is competition. I don't think any outside forces are going to affect this football team," the GM said.

"Jeff's a great competitor. His No. 1 attribute is his competitive spirit. Right now, we just want to get Jeff healthy and back on the practice field. Nothing will change the competitive nature of Jeff Garcia."

The Bucs have five quarterbacks in training camp, including four who have won games for them over the last three years.

Still, the chance to add a player the stature of Favre was too special to ignore.

"You're not talking about Tony the Tiger here. You're talking about Brett Favre," Gruden said.

"This was one of the more awkward, unprecedented situations from a timing standpoint, from a media standpoint, that I've seen in my career. I'm just kind of glad it's over."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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