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Packers awaiting Favre's decision

(Feb. 25, 2005) -- Brett Favre is making the Green Bay Packers wait to hear his plans for next season, but the team is not pushing him for a decision.

"We told him to take his time, and he deserves this time to take," Packers president Bob Harlan told The Associated Press.

Coach Mike Sherman initially gave his star quarterback, who is back home in Hattiesburg, Miss., until the start of free agency on March 2 to make up his mind on whether he wants to keep playing. But Sherman has since backed off the deadline, saying he just needs to know soon so he can plan.

New general manager Ted Thompson, with Sherman at the NFL combine in Indianapolis this weekend, isn't pushing the issue, either.

"Ted's feeling and Mike's, too, is we owe Brett this time. He's done enough for this franchise that we don't need to push him on this decision," Harlan said. "He'll make it at the appropriate time. We've been very laid back with this, no pressure. There's no panic."

Sherman has said he hopes Favre realizes he's still on top of his game and returns for a 15th season but he understands the pull of family could hasten Favre's retirement.

Favre topped 4,000 yards passing last season and recorded his eighth consecutive 30-touchdown season, twice as long as any quarterback has ever accomplished.

But he underwent a season of personal torment. His brother-in-law was killed in an ATV accident on the quarterback's property in Mississippi, and his wife, Deanna, was diagnosed with breast cancer less than a year after the quarterback lost his father to a heart attack.

Although Favre sustained three injuries serious enough to put him on the injury report last season, he extended his NFL quarterbacks record starting streak to 224 games. Since his first start on Sept. 27, 1992, 183 other quarterbacks have made their NFL debut.

The Packers will create room in their salary cap to keep Favre if he comes back. They'd rather do that than start a new era at quarterback.

But nobody in the organization is prepared to declare for certain Favre will return, Harlan said

"We don't want to assume anything because Brett hasn't said one way or the other," Harlan said.

Wide receiver Donald Driver created a controversy when he said at the Super Bowl he talks to Favre often and that he felt the 35-year-old quarterback would call it quits.

Sherman immediately tracked down Driver, who told him he hadn't spoken with Favre since the end of the season and was merely stating his opinion.

Because Favre hasn't spoken publicly about his plans, it's unknown if the retooled coaching staff, the stripping of Sherman's GM duties or any pending roster moves will play a role in his decision.

Although Favre's 135-70 regular-season record is fourth best in NFL history, he and the Packers have gone only 2-6 in the playoffs since winning the NFC championship following the 1997 season.

Fans are hoping his commitment to two public events this offseason indicate he'll put off retirement for at least another year.

Favre is scheduled to participate in the team's first fan fest March 11-13 at Lambeau Field, and he recently committed to playing golf at the pro-am and charity shootout at the 2005 U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee in mid-July, before training camp starts.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2005, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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