GREEN BAY, Wis. - As promised, Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre was front and center yesterday for the start of the team's mandatory minicamp.
Before he hit the practice field in the Don Hutson Center, though, he stepped to the podium at Lambeau Field and spoke to Wisconsin reporters for the first time in roughly 41/2 months.
Favre addressed mostly the events of the past week, which saw him criticize the team for failing to trade for Randy Moss, reportedly request to be traded himself and then state he wouldn't attend minicamp, only to reverse course and show up after all.
His first order of business in the 16-minute news conference was to address his supposed trade request, which was reported Sunday by Foxsports.com and by the next afternoon had garnered national attention.
"I do want to clear up this trade issue, or nonissue as I call it," he said. "Never was a trade ever mentioned, requested. I just don't know where it came from. That's not true."
Favre then admitted that he was frustrated with the team's failure this off-season to add an impact player on offense, either through the draft or via trade.
Green Bay thought it had a deal in place to acquire Moss the night before the draft but ultimately was aced out by New England, leaving Favre this season to lead a young offense considered long on potential but woefully short on experience.
He lashed out publicly about the inaction last weekend during his annual charity golf tournament, but said he had since moved on after discussions this week with both general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy.
"You know, I think I get over things fairly quickly," he said. "I mean, I expressed how I felt and it's over and done with. Ultimately, it comes down to me wanting to play and help this team win. That's the one thing I can control, and, by being here, that's what I'm doing.
"The teammates that I've played with last year and in previous years are important to me. The team aspect is very important to me. I've always said that. I'd like to think that I'm not only a good teammate but a great leader. That's what it ultimately came down to."
Favre was asked if he played any role in trying to land Moss in Green Bay.
"I'm not going to get into details about all that," he said. "Once again, it's over and done with. Randy's playing with New England. I think he could have helped this team, but there's a lot of players who could."
Favre went on to say he held no ill will toward Thompson, who many believe has been far too conservative in rebuilding a team that has gone 4-12 and 8-8 and failed to reach the playoffs in the last two seasons.
"I'm fine with Ted," Favre said. "I'm not here to judge the way he runs his team. And I know that he's probably caught a lot of heat. Ted and I go way back, from Day 1. He has a plan. That's what he's paid to do; I'm paid to lead this team on the field."
As far as any hard feelings between Favre and his offensive teammates stemming from his inference that what he has to work with isn't championship-caliber, the 17-year veteran doesn't appear to be worried about the possibility.
"I'm not going to stand up in front of them," Favre said when asked if he has talked to his teammates about his comments. "I've seen a lot of the guys in passing and, I mean, we're fine. But I believe in these guys.
"Once again, a year ago, you guys were criticizing me because I said this was one of the most talented teams. You thought I was crazy. But . . . I also told you that that doesn't guarantee 12 wins."
Wide receiver Greg Jennings, for one, took no offense to what Favre had to say.
"It's not a knock on any of us," he said. "That's how competitive he is. He just wants to win. He's a great leader. We can't take that away from him, regardless of the comments he made. I'm a receiver and I didn't take any harm from it."
Favre, who is recovering from left ankle surgery, said that he had not thrown a football before yesterday since the season ended and that he didn't want to come to minicamp, but ultimately was glad he made the decision to attend.
Favre didn't take part in any 11-on-11 work in practice but nonetheless got in some throws during 7-on-7 and situational drills. It's no surprise that he looked rusty at times in coming up short on a handful of passes.
"It's important any time you have the leader, the quarterback of your football team, here," McCarthy said. "Like I've said all along, it's important when our football team gets together that the whole football team is here."