GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Brett Favre stuck to the script, declining to address his public rift with the Green Bay Packers in an appearance at Lambeau Field on Saturday.
In town to present former teammate Frank Winters for induction into the Packers' Hall of Fame at a banquet Saturday night, Favre briefly spoke with reporters about his former center's career before abruptly stepping off the stage and ducking out a side door.
But Favre did pause to praise the place where he used to play -- and now is trying to play his way out of.
"That's the thing about Green Bay," said Favre, who spoke for about three minutes. "It's a special place. There's a lot of tradition. You think of the Packers, you think of all these great names, and to be a part of that -- and I know Frank feels honored -- is a special thing. I'm thankful that he asked me to be here."
With that, Favre introduced Winters and walked off the stage.
Favre also put the smoldering controversy aside when he received a team MVP award during Saturday night's event, calling himself "an old, gray-haired quarterback showing I can still do it."
Favre went out of his way to thank former teammates, something he apparently forgot to do during the taping of the ESPY awards in Los Angeles earlier this week.
"It's all about the team," Favre said. "I hope I have never lost sight of that."
The only passing mention to the latest chapter in the Favre retirement saga came from event master of ceremonies Larry McCarren, a former Packers player and current broadcaster.
"There are bigger problems in the world than the one the Packer nation is wrestling with now," McCarren said early on as he urged attendees to put the issue aside for the night.
On Saturday afternoon, Winters said he was glad Favre kept his commitment to present him to the Packers' Hall of Fame despite the fact that it might be an awkward situation, given the very public nature of Favre's rift with the team in recent weeks.
"There's a lot of people probably, around the NFL and the United States probably thinking Brett wouldn't show up today," said Winters, who had asked Favre to present him several months ago. "But I knew deep down inside he would, and he told me he would be here, and it's a great honor."
Favre retired in early March, but recently has been having second thoughts about playing in 2008. He's flirted with retirement the past few offseasons, but the latest, and most intense, episode of Favre flip-flopping on his future in football was met with lukewarm enthusiasm by the Packers, who spent the offseason planning to move forward with Aaron Rodgers as their starter.
Favre asked to be released from his contract, a request the team has no plans to grant. The next step for Favre could be to petition NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for reinstatement, a move that would force the Packers to release him or place him on their active roster. He also could be traded.
The Packers have filed tampering charges against the Minnesota Vikings, suspecting that interest from the Vikings is the main reason Favre has changed his mind about playing in 2008.
Favre's rights belong to the Packers until his current contract expires after the 2010 season.
In an interview with Fox News last week, Favre criticized general manger Ted Thompson for being untruthful with him. But Packers officials have gone out of their way not to criticize Favre, instead laying out a specific timeline of their dealings with him in the offseason.
The most significant episode in their timeline came in late March, when Favre led the Packers to believe he was going to unretire and they were prepared to welcome him back -- only to change his mind once again and stay retired.
Despite the public acrimony, Winters said Saturday night's dinner wouldn't be a problem.
"I don't think it's awkward," Winters said. "I mean, I'm sure there's a lot of people out there that would like to ask him a lot of questions. But this is a special night for a couple of guys, and we're just going to keep it to that."
Saturday night's inductees included Winters, former defensive tackle Gilbert Brown and former video director Al Treml.
Brown deflected a question about whether Favre's situation is going to overshadow the evening's event.
"I don't know," Brown said. "All I know is tonight is (about) Gilbert Brown, Frank Winters and Al Treml. That's all I care about."
Winters also ducked questions about the Favre situation.
"When it plays out, however it plays out, I'll comment at that point," Winters said. "But right now, I'm not going to comment on it and take anything away from the other guys that are getting inducted tonight."
Despite putting himself in a potentially awkward situation, Favre still managed to laugh about the good times he had while playing with Winters -- including the first time they met in 1992, when Favre's conditioning was less than ideal.
"I said, 'What do you play?' He said, 'I play center,'" said Favre, who weighed 252 pounds at the time. "He says to me, 'What do you play, linebacker?' And from that point on, we were inseparable."
Winters said he didn't have any insights on Favre's next move. But he acknowledged that it's difficult for players to leave the game.
"You miss the guys," Winters said. "I'm not going to lie, you miss the paycheck. It's a great way to make a living. But sooner or later, you realize it's time to move on."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press