July 15, 2008, Tampa, FL: Brett Favre arrived this morning at the Buccaneer’s training facility for the press conference to announce that he will be re-joining John Gruden and donning the #4 in pewter and crimson for 2008. Favre was extremely emotional as he addressed the media.
"It is a sad day for me, leaving behind the team I helped to win a championship," Favre said. "But most of those guys are gone, and it was obvious to me the team wanted to go in a new direction."
Favre concluded the press conference by saying, "I'm just glad we were able to get a deal worked out to bring me here. I love the weather. I am closer to home. I have a chance to win a championship and I'm just happy to put all the drama behind me."
Team representatives, while claiming this was a football decision, could not conceal the effects a Packers legend may have on their gate. "Maybe we'll convert some of them," Gruden said with a wry smile regarding the retired Packers fans now living in the Tampa area.
In the deal, the Packers sent Favre and his $12.8 million contract they could no longer afford to take on after making moves under the expectation of Favre not returning, General Manager Ted Thompson said. In return, they get Tampa Bay's first round pick in 2009, back-up Brian Griese, and the rights to Jake Plummer who, unlike Favre, is not expected to un-retire—“That is a move to give the Bucs cap space," Thompson said.
"This makes us a contender right now," Gruden said. He was asked how much more he expects out of Favre than the almost Pro Bowl performance of Jeff Garcia in 2007, especially since Favre will need to learn the offense. "(Our offense) is similar to what (Favre's) been running in Green Bay, and he's a smart quarterback... he'll pick it up." He never did address what kind of an upgrade Favre would bring over Garcia.
"It was time for us to move on," Thompson said. "We have to find out what Aaron (Rodgers) can do, and establish the quarterback position for the long-term. Brett did a lot for us, but we couldn't keep playing the waiting game. Eventually he was going to retire, and when he said he had this March, we took him at his word, and we acted. Now we could not un-ring that bell."
Thompson said that when Favre had made it clear he wanted to come back, the team knew they could not release him. They talked with Favre about teams he would be willing to be traded to, and Tampa Bay was the only place on both lists that was also a willing trading partner, he said.
However, we here at Bleacher Report, because of the success of interviews in the article "Favre-Packers, an Insider's View!", have made new inroads into the fly on the wall community. Our sources in Green Bay and Kiln helped hook us up with a source in Tampa. Collectively they can give us background on this deal.
July 11, 2008: ESPN's Chris Mortensen gets a call from Brett’s agent, Bus Cook, stating that Brett wants the team to release him. Later that day, Favre and the Packers begin to work out possible places Brett might be willing to play outside of Green Bay. Favre exclaims, "I wanna play for a contender, and I don't wanna learn a whole new offense."
His call to Philadelphia is short, so we did not bother seeking any flies in that city to corroborate with what our source in Green Bay told us -- he overheard Andy Reid saying "the fans may not like Donovan (McNabb), but I'm not an idiot like they are!"
His call to Houston was never answered and never returned.
Despite efforts to keep Gruden from getting the call by front office personnel who are tired of being the depository of every quarterback past their prime, Thompson was shrewd enough to get through. "I can have Brett, too?!" Gruden exclaimed excitedly. "I'll take him! I'll give you my whole draft next year!"
July 14, 2008: Tampa Bay negotiates the deal down to what has been reported. Gruden was known to have been most heart-broken about having to give up a veteran quarterback (he was upset about giving up Brian Griese!) in the deal. Brett is informed of the move and bought a first-class ticket to Tampa for the press conference.
Airline attendants say he drank non-alcoholic champagne the entire flight, and was "giddy as a schoolgirl," says one. "He told me, 'I'm not sure how I'll fake being upset about not finishing my career with the Packers.'"