GREEN BAY, Wis. – The bond between Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers appears to be broken beyond repair.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Tuesday evening that after approximately six hours of what he called "brutally honest" conversations with Favre over the past two days, the three-time MVP just isn't in the right mind-set to be part of the team.
Even with the chance to win his starting job back potentially on the table, McCarthy said Favre couldn't seem to get past emotional wounds that were opened as tensions mounted in recent weeks.
"The football team's moving forward," McCarthy said. "The train has left the station, whatever analogy you want. He needs to jump on the train and let's go. Or, if we can't get past things that have happened, I have to keep the train moving."
McCarthy said he and Favre made plans to speak later Tuesday evening, but McCarthy didn't seem to allow for the possibility that anything significant would change.
A trade could be coming next, with Tampa Bay re-emerging as a potential destination after seemingly being eliminated from consideration in recent weeks.
Packers officials have believed throughout the past month that Favre's preference is to play for the Minnesota Vikings, but Favre could reconsider a trade to Tampa Bay — or elsewhere — if Green Bay holds firm in its commitment not to trade him to a division rival. The Green Bay Press-Gazette reported on its Web site Tuesday night that Favre was willing to play for the Buccaneers.
McCarthy wouldn't address trade talks, but did say a quick resolution to the situation is important to the rest of his players.
"Absolutely," McCarthy said. "The players, they want it resolved. Even talk to Brett about it — he feels bad about it. It's time for them to talk about somebody else."
Favre left Lambeau Field just before Packers practice Tuesday afternoon, taking a right turn out of the stadium's back gate and heading away from the field where the rest of his teammates were assembling for drills.
Favre emerged from the stadium's loading dock exit at 2:34 p.m. EDT Tuesday, hugging Packers senior security advisor Jerry Parins before getting in his SUV and driving away. Shortly after, an SUV driven by Packers general manager Ted Thompson left the gate heading in the same direction.
"We're at a stalemate," Favre told ESPN Tuesday morning. "Mike and I both agreed last night that me being out there is a distraction and will continue to be a distraction. We all know the reason I'm here is because the commissioner reinstated me so we have a lot of things to figure out. It's simple and complicated, both at the same time."
McCarthy said Favre was excused from practice Tuesday, adding that he wouldn't have practiced with the team anyway because of an abdominal strain found in his physical examination Monday. McCarthy did not say whether Favre would be fined if he stayed away from camp starting Wednesday.
Favre told ESPN he doesn't have a problem with competing with Rodgers for the starting job, and can "truly understand" why McCarthy would make Rodgers the starter. But Favre also said a competition "probably isn't going to work" and that "the problem is that there's been a lot of damage done and I can't forget it."
Did Favre not feel wanted or welcome enough by the Packers?
"That's part of the issue with him, quite frankly," McCarthy said. "And listening to him talk about that, you respect his opinion. And frankly, I told him, I said, 'I'll take responsibility because I have a voice in the building.' I never thought he truly was going to play. I thought he was emotionally driven for other reasons."
McCarthy said Favre was "very convincing" in their conversations about his desire to play Monday night and Tuesday. But McCarthy still seemed to have reservations about Favre's commitment to preparation.
Would Favre continue to stay at Lambeau late at night to study film, a major factor in his success last season?
"That was a very good question for him," McCarthy said. "He's in a tough spot right now."
McCarthy also didn't seem convinced that Favre was thinking clearly about his future.
"He has a lot going through his head, and I think he's emotional," McCarthy said. "And just talking to him, he's in a tough spot."
So, of course, are McCarthy and Thompson. Correctly or not, they might end up being seen by fans as the men who drove Favre out of Green Bay.
"That's not a good feeling, but I don't view it that way," McCarthy said.
However, Favre has seen a sharp decline in his favorability among many Wisconsinites, a new survey shows. Only 47 percent had a favorable view of Favre, while 34 percent had an unfavorable view. The survey of 600 people likely to vote in the November presidential election was conducted Sunday and Monday by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent. In a survey last December, 73 percent of the people in Wisconsin had a favorable view of Favre and 7 percent had an unfavorable view.
Rodgers, meanwhile, stuck to his mantra of not worrying about things he can't control.
"I just know we were out at practice today, and he wasn't there, and I'm the starter," Rodgers said. "So that's where we're going right now."
Speaking to reporters after Tuesday's practice, Rodgers stood just a few feet away from a locker with a "FAVRE" nameplate above it, stocked with shoulderpads and other equipment. It hadn't been used — and now might never be.
Cornerback Charles Woodson had a hard time imagining the Packers trading such an iconic player.
"Everything went kind of sour a few weeks or a month back, but you never felt like it would get to the point or to the talks of him actually being traded," Woodson said. "I felt once he stepped back in here, he would be the quarterback. Him not being here today, I guess management has a different route. So at that point, we've got to go out and do our job."