Favre considering $20 million offer that could bring drama to an end
GREEN BAY -- The $20 million offer that Green Bay Packers President Mark Murphy made to Brett Favre on Wednesday, aimed at making a long-term commitment to him regardless of whether he plays this season, might be enough to keep the quarterback on...
GREEN BAY -- The $20 million offer that Green Bay Packers President Mark Murphy made to Brett Favre on Wednesday, aimed at making a long-term commitment to him regardless of whether he plays this season, might be enough to keep the quarterback on the sideline.
Late Thursday night, ESPNews reported that Favre was seriously considering the offer, which would call for him to make public appearances and engage in various marketing campaigns for the Packers. It is thought to be similar to deals offered to other high-profile stars such as Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins.
If Favre takes the offer, it would end weeks of uncertainty and growing dissatisfaction among his many fans and allow him to bow out of a contentious situation gracefully. In turn, it would bail the Packers out of a public relations nightmare they helped create with poor communication with Favre during the off-season.
An NFL source who wanted the Packers' side to be explained said Murphy's financial offer was wrongly being portrayed as a bribe. He said Murphy first proposed a 10-year formal relationship with Favre in March after the quarterback's retirement and did not bring it up for the first time Wednesday during his nine-hour visit with Favre and his agent in Hattiesburg, Miss.
There were only occasional talks about it between March and June before Favre started making noise about wanting to return to football. The situation soon became contentious between the two sides, and the relationship between Favre and general manager Ted Thompson began deteriorating.
Murphy, the source said, decided that with the two sides at an impasse, he would meet with Favre face to face to finalize a post-retirement deal. He told Favre and his agent, James "Bus" Cook, that the deal was on the table regardless of whether Favre decided to come back.
"He felt it was important to let Brett know face to face that he was serious about a long-term relationship regardless of his intentions to play football," the source said. "Regardless of how it was interpreted, it was a continuation of a discussion in March to formalize a long-term relationship."
After the meeting was over, Favre declined to comment, and Cook made no mention of an offer Murphy made during his visit. Murphy also didn't comment on the meeting, even after it was reported that he was offering Favre $20 million not to report to training camp.
Thursday night, ESPN reported that Favre revealed in a text message to one of its reporters that he was considering the offer.
"There isn't a perfect solution to this, but Mark Murphy is at least trying," Favre wrote. "We know what they want and where I stand. His solution, although awkward and unsettling for most, may be the best in the end."
There is some thought that the gesture was made to allow Favre a chance to bow out gracefully knowing his relationship with the organization would be intact. The contract offer is not dependent on Favre retiring and would be available to him regardless of whether he plays football this year.
The Favre camp has not commented on the offer, and it's unclear whether they consider it a bribe.
Favre, whose application for reinstatement was put off again Thursday by Commissioner Roger Goodell in an attempt to allow the Packers and Favre to find an agreeable resolution to their standoff, stands to be paid $2 million per year under the proposal. The payments would not start until after Favre retired.
Favre and Cook had the engines running on a private plane headed from Hattiesburg to Austin Straubel Airport on Thursday afternoon, but Goodell grounded them by choosing to wait another day before granting the quarterback his reinstatement from the reserve/retired list.
In a statement released at 4:40 p.m., a league spokesman said:
"The Packers and Brett Favre are continuing their discussions. The commissioner preferred to let those discussions continue rather than act on the reinstatement petition today."
The statement seems to lend credence to the report that Favre is considering the offer.
A different source with close ties to the Packers said Thursday that the idea of a 10-year offer that would pay Favre a yearly sum was floated well before the quarterback's retirement March 6 and was proposed to Murphy by a team employee.
The idea, the source said, was to keep Favre connected with the organization through fan appearances and public events while also setting him up for post-retirement life so he wouldn't be as likely to keep changing his mind about retiring. Paying Favre $10 million over 10 years was how the plan was first proposed.
On Wednesday, Murphy flew to Hattiesburg to meet with Favre and Cook. Murphy spent about nine hours at Cook's office and before he even landed back home it was reported by WTMJ-TV (Channel 4) in Milwaukee that Favre had been offered $20 million over 10 years not report to camp.
Another report suggested that Murphy went to Hattiesburg to talk Favre out of coming back to Green Bay, but the NFL source said Murphy's intention was to make good on an offer that was presented to Favre and Cook months earlier.
Talks had lagged between March and the time Favre started to make noise about returning to the Packers, and Murphy apparently thought he could make a gesture unrelated to the debate over whether Favre should stay retired.
"It's something he wanted to do," the NFL source said.
Both the timing and the secrecy of the talks between Murphy and Favre led to wide speculation that Murphy was trying to bribe Favre into giving up his quest to return to the NFL. It looked especially bad for Thompson, who on the surface seemed to be getting undermined by Murphy.
If Favre is truly considering the offer, it could wind up being a seminal moment in Murphy's short tenure with the Packers, but if he doesn't it also could ruin the Packers' reputation among the public and damage any leverage in their standoff with Favre. Some in the organization have questioned his timing in negotiating a deal with Favre.
Murphy has declined to comment on his meeting with Favre other than to say:
"We discussed a number of topics not related to football, including Brett's long-term relationship with the Packers. I consider our conversation to be confidential and am going to be respectful of Brett and his family and keep the details private."
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