GREEN BAY, Wis. - Brett Favre is back. It remains to be seen whether he'll still be the leader of the Pack.
The Green Bay Packers reluctantly embraced Favre's forced return to the football field, after failing to come to a financial agreement that would manage to make Favre happy while staying retired.
The NFL announced yesterday that Favre will be reinstated and added to the Packers' active roster today. Commissioner Roger Goodell had held off on granting Favre's request for reinstatement for nearly a week, hoping Favre and the team could resolve their standoff.
"Although we built this year around the assumption that Brett meant what he said about retiring, Brett is coming back," said team president and CEO Mark Murphy. "We will welcome him back and turn this situation to our advantage."
A private plane carrying Favre, wife Deanna, and agent James Cook arrived in Green Bay shortly after 8 last night. Favre exited the plane and waved to a crowd of several hundred fans gathered at the airport - in a severe lightning storm, no less - before driving off in an SUV.
The reinstatement will become effective at 1 this afternoon, when Favre will be added to the Packers' active roster. By reinstating Favre, Goodell is following through on a recent promise to force action.
The team has offered Favre a long-term, multimillion-dollar marketing agreement that likely would have kept him retired. But Favre's decision to report to camp makes such an agreement less likely.
A trade remains a possibility.
"Frankly, Brett's change of mind put us in a very difficult spot," Murphy said in a statement released by the team. "We now will revise many actions and assumptions about our long-term future, all predicated on Brett's decision last March to retire.
"As a result of his decision, we invested considerably in a new and different future without Brett and we were obviously moving in that direction. That's why this wasn't easy. Having crossed the Rubicon once when Brett decided to retire, it's very difficult to reorient our plans and cross it again in the opposite direction - but we'll put this to our advantage."
Could reorienting their plans include a competition between Favre and Aaron Rodgers for the starting job? Team officials have maintained that if Favre returned to the Packers, it would be in some role other than as the starter - and have said Rodgers is their starter.
In his statement, Murphy said only that coach Mike McCarthy would "talk to the team and the quarterbacks about the plan moving forward, and after he has done that we will share it publicly."
Favre could be on the field as early as tomorrow.
The team scrimmaged at Lambeau Field last night, then did not have another scheduled public practice until tomorrow morning.
Favre would not likely begin practicing with the Packers right away. Favre retired in March but has been having second thoughts. Team officials have insisted they are moving on with Rodgers.
Team officials publicly have ruled out releasing Favre, fearing he would immediately sign with division rival Minnesota.
McCarthy has said the Packers had a plan in place should Favre report to camp.
He first would have to pass a physical exam and a conditioning test, then would likely be limited to individual drills.
Goodell told the NFL Network on Saturday he thinks the situation has lingered long enough.
"I think we have to force it," Goodell said. "I think it's come to the point where there need to be some decisions made on behalf of the Packers, on behalf of Brett, on behalf of all the fans."