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coach wants brett to focus on field

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McCarthy just wants Favre to keep focus on field

Staff and wire reports

ASHWAUBENON, Wis. — While Brett Favre weighs his decision whether to play this season, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy hopes Favre focuses on the thing he believes matters most.

"What I've told Brett is the things you need to focus on is, No. 1, playing quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, and being the leader that you have been since 1992, and don't worry about the other stuff," McCarthy said Friday.


When asked what that "other stuff" is, McCarthy said: "You know. Who we're signing. Who's coming here. Football probably was best for him when it was the most fun. It was the most fun when it was the simplest.


"I look at '99," he added. "I would still say of all the guys I've worked with, he has done as good a job as anybody I've been around at keeping outside distractions away from his game. I think that's truly one of his strengths. I think he needs to grab hold of that and play to his strength, which is focusing on being the Packers' quarterback."


On Thursday, Favre told the Sun Herald in Gulfport, Miss., that he wants to play for the Packers only if they assemble a winning team. He also said that even if he plays, this is going to be his final NFL season.


"Last season, expectations were high and it was a bad situation," Favre said of the Packers' 4-12 record, his first losing mark in 14 seasons here. "If we can't compete at a high level, I can walk away, and my legacy will speak for itself."


Regarding the reported Saturday deadline to make his decision, Favre also told the Herald, "If I don't tell them by Saturday, what will they do, cut me?"


McCarthy said he doesn't have a problem with Favre making a one-year commitment. "This business is about year-to-year, especially where he's at in his career," McCarthy said. "Maybe I should, but I don't have a problem with that."


Favre, 36, denied rumors that the Packers expected him to make a decision Saturday. Favre was due a $3 million roster bonus Saturday, which was pushed back from March 15. General Manager Ted Thompson said Friday the deadline had been pushed back again, but he declined to reveal the date.


Favre's apparent retirement quandary hasn't hindered McCarthy's ability to prepare for the upcoming season.


McCarthy, a first-year head coach, said Favre's decision won't directly affect his progress until the team's post-NFL Draft minicamp in May.


"It hasn't been a (problem) at all," he said. "I have targets set for every month, for both players and coaches, and you can look at my schedule. So far, we've hit all those targets. From a playing standpoint, (Favre's uncertain status) hasn't been a hindrance. Now if he's not here for the first minicamp, now he's affecting the team."


McCarthy said he and Favre haven't discussed the head coach's expectations for attendance at offseason functions such as the minicamps.


"We only visited on that briefly," he said. "But once again, I think it's important for everyone to be here (in May) just based on the plan that we want to accomplish as much as we can in the offseason so training camp comes together. Obviously it's important for the quarterback position, because he benefits from it more than anybody."


McCarthy described his discussions with Favre as "positive" regarding the new coach's offensive philosophy.


"I've said this time and time again? we're talking about a (Pro Football) Hall of Fame quarterback that has an incredible number of repetitions in a lot of our basic concepts. I like that because A, I believe in those concepts and B, we're talking about a guy that has 15 years worth of reps tied up in that. That's a huge advantage, and one that we need to maximize and utilize."


McCarthy and Favre have discussed the quarterback's ability to have input on the offense.


"Input is in the spring," he said. "That's when it happens. It's not about plays. It's about conceptual thinking. That is going to take place (in May) at the minicamps."


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.


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.


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.




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