- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 27, 2008

Favre or no Favre, Aaron Rodgers is his starting quarterback.

In his season-opening news conference at Lambeau Field on Saturday, McCarthy strongly affirmed the team’s commitment to Rodgers and reiterated that players and coaches spent the offseason planning to move forward after Favre retired in March.

“Aaron Rodgers is the starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers,” McCarthy said. “That’s been stated over and over again. I hope we can finally understand that. That’s where we are as an organization and as a head coach of the Green Bay Packers. I don’t know how else to answer that question.”

Packers players are scheduled to report to training camp Sunday and will have their first practice Monday morning. McCarthy acknowledged the possibility that Favre could be there.

“Has he thought about it? I’m sure he has,” McCarthy said. “Has he confirmed anything? No.”

Favre retired in March, but asked to be released from his contract earlier this month after his latest round of flip-flopping on his football future was met with lukewarm enthusiasm from McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson.

The Packers have no plans to release Favre, whose rights belong to them until his contract expires after the 2010 season. A release would leave Favre free to sign with any team, including division rival Minnesota.

Favre could always just stay retired, but his next move might be to show up for camp - or at least try to use the threat of showing up and creating a media circus to force a trade.

New York Jets are emerging as potential trade partners for the Packers, although McCarthy didn’t directly address the possibility of a trade.

McCarthy acknowledged that Favre’s presence could become a distraction.

“It’ll be a challenge, there’s no doubt about it,” McCarthy said. “But it’s a new challenge and a new year. [It’s] different than I personally have ever experienced, but it’s something that I can promise you we’ll have a plan for and will be dealt with directly.”

McCarthy said he spoke with Favre at the Packers’ Hall of Fame banquet at Lambeau a week ago and communicated with him via text message this week, but said he still doesn’t know if Favre will really show up.

Favre first would have to file for reinstatement with the league and have his request approved by commissioner Roger Goodell. Then he’d have to pass a team physical.

And even if Favre does all that, he won’t necessarily be running plays right away. McCarthy said Favre likely would be limited to doing individual drills in practice or working out with players who are rehabilitating injuries.

McCarthy said he wasn’t concerned that Favre’s presence could cause a rift in the locker room, even if some players want Favre back.

“I don’t think it’s a huge concern, because it will not be the first time the coach and any of the players will have a disagreement,” McCarthy said. “We disagree quite often, but the most important part of disagreeing is having the ability to communicate.”

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