Favre will play only if he can win

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The Green Bay Packers aren’t pressuring Brett Favre to make a retirement decision by Saturday’s due date for a $3 million roster bonus. And even if they were, the quarterback doesn’t think he owes the team a decision this weekend anyway.

In his most recent comments about his murky football future, Favre made one thing clear: If he does return, he told a newspaper in his native Mississippi there is “no doubt” it will be his last season.

Favre’s retirement saga has turned into pro football’s version of Groundhog Day, as fans and the media try to predict the future based upon brief public glimpses of the iconic QB during the winter.

Saturday’s bonus due date recently has been interpreted as a deadline from the team’s management for Favre to make a decision. But Favre doesn’t seem inclined to meet it, and the Packers aren’t going to hold him to it.

“If I don’t tell them by Saturday, what will they do, cut me?” Favre told the Sun Herald in Gulfport, Miss.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson already has moved the roster bonus deadline back to accommodate his star quarterback, and he seems willing to do so again.

“No, it never has been (a deadline),” Thompson told The Associated Press on Friday. “It’s just another date in the spring.” Thompson, who has remained in contact with Favre during the offseason, said he hasn’t heard anything that would indicate a decision is imminent.

“We’ve talked to Brett and (wife) Deanna, and I’ve said all along that they’ll decide when they decide,” Thompson said. Favre said he wants to play again but will return only if the Packers can assemble a winning team.

“Last season, expectations were high and it was a bad situation,” Favre said of the team’s 4-12 season, his only losing one in Green Bay. “If we can’t compete at a high level, I can walk away and my legacy will speak for itself.”

Thompson said Favre’s unclear future isn’t having a negative effect on the team’s preparations for next season. But the sooner Favre decides, the better.

“It’s OK now,” Thompson said. “I think everybody would like to know. I think Brett would like to know.”

The Packers did not pursue experienced quarterbacks such as Aaron Brooks and Brian Griese in free agency, but Thompson said that was not an indication that the Packers are assuming Favre will return.

Aaron Rodgers, the team’s first-round draft pick last season, is presumed to be in line to take over the starting role if Favre retires. But Thompson said the team would look to add a more experienced quarterback, possibly through a trade, if Favre does retire.

“Obviously, with Brett not in the equation, we might have to add another type of player,” Thompson said.

But Thompson hopes it doesn’t come to that.

Favre, who was in Gulfport, Miss., to award grants to help youth football groups rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, said he has been talking to the team for the past month and there are things that both parties have to sort out.

“If they don’t come together, I guess I won’t play,” Favre said. “I don’t know if my decision will be made by Saturday.”

Favre said some days he wants to play and other days he wants to retire. Knowing he can still compete at a high level is making the decision tough, he said.

AP-ES-03-31-06 1917EST

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