MILWAUKEE - Brett Favre finally is speaking for himself: He wants to play but doesn't feel welcome in Green Bay, so he's asking to be released.
The quarterback's first substantial comments on his latest retirement decision reversal come in an interview with Fox News on On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.
"I am guilty of retiring early and there is a reason for that," Favre said, according to an excerpt provided to The Associated Press before last night's broadcast. "And the major issue is 'Why did he retire?,' and 'He asked for a release because he doesn't want to play in Green Bay.' That's not true. And I hope people are hearing this and saying 'OK, that clears it up.'•"
According to Van Susteren, who spoke to the AP by telephone, Favre said he was "never fully committed" to retiring and felt pressured by the Packers to make a decision, a notion Packers general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy tried to dispel in an interview with the AP on Saturday.
"Ted always wanted Brett back," McCarthy said. "We always wanted Brett back."
Favre told Fox he understands that the Packers want to move on - but if they're doing so, they should let him go.
"Them moving on does not bother me," Favre said. "It doesn't. I totally understand that. By me retiring March 3rd, I knew that could possibly happen. All I was saying is, you know, I'm thinking about playing again."
Van Susteren - who is from Appleton, Wis., is a Packers' shareholder and previously had interviewed Favre and his wife, Deanna - said Favre made it clear he would not return to the Packers if he wasn't the starter. And while Favre said the Packers asked him for a list of teams to which he would accept a trade, he wants to be released to make sure he ends up on a competitive club.
Thompson said the team wasn't going to release Favre, but he could come back in a "different role than he was" because the team is committed to going forward with Aaron Rodgers.
Thompson and McCarthy wouldn't discuss the possibility of trading Favre and said they hadn't received any trade inquiries as of Saturday.
Thompson and McCarthy gave AP a detailed description of their dealings with Favre throughout the off-season, including an episode a few weeks after Favre's retirement where the two were prepared to fly to Mississippi to seal the deal on a Favre comeback - only to have the quarterback change his mind again.
In the interview, Favre said the Packers were being dishonest, although the excerpt provided to AP did not offer specific instances Favre was challenging.
"If you move on, you tell me one thing, don't come back and tell the public just say it, 'You know, we've moved on and we'll work with Brett on whatever it is,'•" Favre said. "Don't make up a lot of stuff or give half of the truth."
McCarthy and Thompson also expressed concern Saturday that Favre spent most of the off-season questioning whether he still had the commitment to play football. But Favre told Fox News it wasn't going to be an issue.
"If I'm going to play it's going to be 100 percent commitment," Favre said.
Favre's interview - which was receiving top billing over an interview with presidential candidate John McCain in promos for Van Susteren's show that aired during the day yesterday - is the latest development in what is looking more and more like an irreparable schism between one of the NFL's most storied franchises and perhaps its most beloved quarterback.
Thompson called the situation "gut-wrenching" Saturday.
"I mean, it hurts," he said. "I'm not talking about physically hurting, but the sensitivity. We understand where the fans are coming from. This is a hot-button issue that surpasses anything I've ever gone through."
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