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Favre coming back to Packers

MILWAUKEE (April 26, 2006) -- The Green Bay Packers haven't reeled in any big-time free agents, but that didn't prevent them from pulling off their biggest offseason move of all: Convincing Brett Favre to return.

"The Green Bay Packers are very pleased that Brett has come to this decision, and look forward to a successful 2006 season," general manager Ted Thompson said in a statement posted on the team's Web site.

Packers president and CEO Bob Harlan said he was delighted that Favre was coming back - something he expected to happen, despite Favre's four months of public wavering on the decision.

"I always said the calendar was working in our favor," Harlan said. "If he was going to (retire), he would have told us in January."

Like Packers fans, Harlan watched as Favre repeatedly questioned his football future in a series of public appearances.

But unlike some fans who worried that Favre really might retire rather than face the prospect of another losing season, those interviews didn't give Harlan any doubts.

"Every time I would see him in his television interviews, it just looked to me like he had that desire to play," Harlan said.

Harlan said Thompson and new coach Mike McCarthy, who stayed in contact with Favre during the offseason, both remained confident they could talk him into returning.

"Both of them, down deep, I think believed he was coming back," Harlan said.

Harlan said he didn't know if Favre was working out with a personal trainer to stay in shape, as he did last offseason. But he expects the three-time MVP to be prepared.

"I think he's looking forward to it, and I think he's going to be ready," Harlan said.

The Packers' first minicamp is scheduled to begin May 5, although it is not clear whether Favre will be there.

ESPN reported April 25 that Favre had told Thompson and McCarthy of his decision in a telephone conversation that morning.

Worries about Favre's future have become an annual rite of winter for Packers fans, as the quarterback has contemplated retirement during the past several offseasons -- only to return each time.

This year apparently was no different.

In his most recent comments on retirement, made April 10 at his annual charity golf tournament, Favre said he wondered whether the team had improved enough in the offseason to justify coming back.

"I'd like to say I think we are better, but I don't know if we are," he said.

Favre said the team needed to make a "statement" similar to the signing of Reggie White in 1993.

But Favre, the NFL's only three-time MVP (1995-97), also said football is "in my blood."

As the Packers' season slid toward a 4-12 finish -- the team's only losing season under Favre -- the three-time NFL MVP said repeatedly that he wasn't sure if he would come back to play a 16th season.

The 36-year-old Favre, who threw a career-high 29 interceptions last season while playing for a team depleted by injuries and free-agency losses, said he wasn't sure he wanted to be part of what he saw as a possible long-term rebuilding effort.

He also claimed he wasn't sure if the team wanted him and his hefty salary to be a part of that effort. He hinted that the team's moves in free agency would play a role in his decision to come back. Favre also questioned his own motivation to continue playing.

Favre ranks second behind Dan Marino on the NFL's career list in touchdown passes (396), yards passing (53,615) and completions (4,678) and hold the records for most consecutive starts by a quarterback with 221 (241 including the playoffs).

Favre has led the Packers to six division crowns and a Super Bowl title, restoring success to one of the NFL's most famous franchises.

The Packers fired coach Mike Sherman after the final game of the season and replaced him with McCarthy, who was Favre's quarterbacks coach in Green Bay during the 1999 season. They also re-signed running back Ahman Green, who missed most of last season because of a knee injury.

But Favre continued to waffle in the offseason as the Packers struck out on high-profile free agents.

Sticking to Thompson's stated philosophy of not splurging for the sake of splurging in the free-agent market, the Packers lost veteran kicker Ryan Longwell to the division rival Minnesota Vikings and lost out in the bidding for a potential replacement, free agent kicker Adam Vinatieri, who signed with the Indianapolis Colts.

Linebacker LaVar Arrington spurned an offer from the Packers to sign with the New York Giants. The team continues to wait for an answer from defensive back Charles Woodson.

The Packers' two most high profile free-agent signings have been former St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Ryan Pickett and former Seattle Seahawks safety Marquand Manuel. The team also has re-signed fullback William Henderson and wide receiver Rod Gardener.

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