The Green Bay Packers and Brett Favre have crossed several checkpoints over the past four months in their road to reconciliation.
Those series of icebreakers continued on Thursday when former three-time MVP quarterback showed contrition when reflecting on how he left Green Bay in 2008 and the events that followed his first comeback from retirement.
During an interview with WGR 550 AM in Buffalo as part of former Bills quarterback Jim Kelly's "Hunter's Hope" charity auction, Favre even went as far as to shoulder some of the blame for how things transpired.
“It is what it is. It's over and done with. I was at fault,” Favre told the show’s host Joe Buscaglia. “I feel that both sides had a part in it. If you can go back would I or them have done things differently? I'm sure both sides would have, but you can't.”
You can listen to the interview in its entirety here: http://tinyurl.com/n3t9d9a
Since presenting the comeback player of the year award to Denver quarterback Peyton Manning with his successor, Aaron Rodgers, during the NFL Honors ceremony in February, the icy-cold barriers between the franchise and its once-beloved quarterback have continued to fall.
During his locker room availability this week, Rodgers made a passing reference that he and Favre have remained in contact since the event after hardly speaking at all in the wake of the Packers decision to move forward with Rodgers while shipping Favre to the New York Jets.
After playing through a torn bicep, Favre retired again after the 2008 season only to return the following year with NFC North Division-rival Minnesota, leading the Vikings to the brink of the Super Bowl.
In the past, Favre has sent mixed signals about whether or not he’d like to have his No. 4 retired by the Packers, but appears to have found some common ground with the organization, telling Buscaglia he’s spoken with team president Mark Murphy on a few occasions.
During last month’s Packers Tailgate Tour trip around the state, Murphy reiterated the organization’s intention to retire Favre’s No. 4 and his optimism Favre would one day take part in the annual goodwill bus trip around the state.
Rodgers echoed those comments during a recent interview with the Jim Rome Show, adding that he hopes the team honors Favre before he goes into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a likely first-ballot selection in 2016.
After initially showing hesitation about a retirement ceremony, Favre appears to be warming up to the idea.
“I don't know of any player who would not want that to happen. I'm honored just by the thought,” Favre said. “Obviously there was, if you want to call it, 'bad blood' or whatever, I just think that people started picking sides and really I'm over that and have been over it. Mark Murphy and I have talked on numerous occasions. I never expected them to do anything. I'm not one to sit here and say I think they need to do this, do that. They have a very good ball team and that's their primary focus and it should have always been, which it has.
“As time goes, it heals a lot of things. I know for me as I've gotten further and further removed from the game, I think about for example the statistics and things of that nature, which I don't know any player where that didn't matter some. It matters a whole lot less now. So the things that transpired that led to us 'breaking up' if you will, to me, are over and done with. When will that happen? I don't think either side is trying to push the issue. I think Mark Murphy – and Mark really came in the last few weeks of my career in Green Bay – so he kind of came into a hornet's nest if you will. But he's been extremely great in trying to make this work. In our discussions, it will happen. We just don’t want it – we’re going to do it here. I think both sides are genuine. I know they are. And that's the way it has to come across because that's the way it should be. We don't want to go out there waving to the crowd with our backs to each other. And I don't think that's going to happen. Aaron has said some very nice things. He and I have a good relationship. I had a chance to present an award with him at the Super Bowl and that was for real. It wasn't for show. And so I think everything will be fine."
As for the decision to play out his career in New York and Minnesota, Favre still doesn’t have any regrets other than how quickly his relationship with the Packers unraveled.
Both the Packers and Favre continue to forecast reconciliation in the near future and based on how well each side is speaking of the other, the possibility that day could be sooner rather than later grows in magnitude.
“I hate it, that it happened that way and I tried to go on and play my best football in spite of those things,” Favre said. “And I had a great year my first year in Minnesota and up until my bicep was torn in New York I really felt we were having a great year. So I look back and have fond memories of all those years. In 20 years of football, really I don't hold any regrets. I know I gave it my all. Had 16 great, wonderful years in Green Bay. Had a lot of success, played with a lot of great teammates. I was part of teams with some great coaches who have all branched out, McCarthy being one of those.
"Again, it happened. It's over and done with. I think things will be fine in due time."
Here are a few other Favre excerpts from the 12-minute interview:
On being an assistant high-school coach:
“I always had, I guess the best way to put it is had I not played, I’d been coaching. Probably would’ve never had a chance to coach at the higher levels for obvious reasons. Now, that I’ve had a chance to play in the NFL and had a lot of contacts, it would be much easier, but also I realize the time that goes into it. I think some of it is ridiculous really the time that is spent that some of these coaches put in. Yeah, I’d love to, but no I don’t want to put in the time. Obviously, as you move up, the stress level goes up as well. I’ve found with the high school level there’s pros and cons like there would be at any level much like playing. It was as close to playing as you could possibly get without any of the stress that came with pro football. The downside was you really can’t expand much with your ideas and thoughts. A lot of my experience is just that, experience. It doesn’t really carry over a lot to high school football. You really have to get to the simplest of teaching and knowledge base with these kids. That’s not to say I don’t try to give them tips and things of that nature – that’s probably the benefit of me coaching. You can’t go in there with all these great ideas. You realize right and left are as complicated as you can get.”
On his impressions of today’s rookie quarterbacks entering the NFL.
“To me, I think, what served me well. I never want to give advice of this is what you should do because first of all the players today are a lot different talent wise and offer a dimension that a lot of us when we came out, did not offer. I moved around well, but not to the extent that a lot of these guys nor the size these guys have. I think what E.J. will face is much like the guys in Miami and some of these other places that had quarterbacks who were very successful for a long time will face and it’s always tough to follow in those footsteps. The list goes on and on. Jim had a wonderful career – almost too good. People expect that every time and it’s hard to do. I think you have to be humble. I think you have to be confident, but in my opinion, you have to have kind of a cautious confidence. You’re there because they feel like you can play, but until you put in the time and start proving yourself, the jury is still out. Don’t go in there thinking you’re the greatest thing. Those days are over with. What you did in college is over with. I think too many times guys get caught up in that and before you know it you’re gone. I think you have to have a tremendous amount of respect, not only for the game, but for the guys who played before you because the older guys will see right through you. It won’t take long until you alienate yourself from the team. So that’s what I would say. I’m not going to say anything about a way a kid plays because we know a kid is drafted because he can play. It’s really the intangibles that are so important you have to be very aware of.”