GREEN BAY, Wis. - Mike McCarthy has no interest in revisiting or rehashing the details of last year’s messy divorce between the Green Bay Packers and the player who once was considered the face of the franchise, Brett Favre.
And the Packers coach could do without a week’s worth of media hype leading up to next Monday night’s showdown with Favre’s new team, the Minnesota Vikings, at the Metrodome.
But the game itself is a different story: McCarthy says he’s looking forward to facing his former quarterback on the field.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun when the game starts, personally,” McCarthy said. “I think it’s going to be a lot of fun because it’s going to be a very competitive football game. It was definitely that type of game when he was on this side.”
Monday night’s game promises to be great theater: Favre will face his former team a little more than a year after his high-profile falling out with McCarthy and Packers general manager Ted Thompson. The Vikings are 3-0 after Favre’s last-minute touchdown pass to beat San Francisco, and his replacement in Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers, is showing the potential to become one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks for a 2-1 Packers team.
“I clearly am in tune with the size of this game outside the building,” McCarthy said.
And while McCarthy is trying to avoid making Monday night’s game into something personal between the Packers’ front office and Favre, Green Bay’s on-field goal is clear.
“We want to beat the Vikings,” McCarthy said. “We want to beat everybody on the Vikings, Brett Favre included. There is no doubt about that.”
Favre, after all, told McCarthy he was interested in playing for the Vikings at the height of last year’s unretirement saga, during a monumental four-hour meeting between the quarterback and coach that led McCarthy to conclude that Favre wasn’t in the right mindset to return to the Packers.
“Nothing surprises me in this business, it really doesn’t,” McCarthy said. “I’ve been around it long enough that there’s no surprises. I know the last time we talked face-to-face, he had a desire to play in Minnesota. So yeah, I’m not surprised by it.”
Trading Favre to the New York Jets meant the Packers wouldn’t have to face him last season, but McCarthy said avoiding an on-field confrontation with Favre wasn’t the Packers’ primary goal.
“I was not concerned about if we were going to play him, when we were going to play him,” McCarthy said. “That was not part of my thought process during that time. Frankly, I was more focused on getting back coaching my team because of the amount of time that I was pulled away from the team during training camp dealing with that scenario.”
Favre’s sudden desire to unretire late last summer erupted to become a major distraction in the Packers’ training camp. But McCarthy reiterated Monday that he wasn’t using the Favre situation as an excuse for the Packers’ 6-10 season.
“I think it may tap into your energy level that may show up at some point in the season if you want to get real technical about it. But the fact of the matter, everybody knows what the score is, everybody knows what the challenge is week to week, and at the end of the day, you’re judged by what you do when you cross the lines.”
Having already dealt with the Favre distraction last year, McCarthy is confident his players will stay focused this week.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
McCarthy recognizes he and the team will be dealing with questions about Favre all week, but that doesn’t mean he’s happy about it.
“Answering all the questions and things that I feel that have nothing to do with the game, that’s not something I wake up every day and am excited to do,” McCarthy said. “But that’s part of the deal, it’s part of our business. But I think it’s going to be a lot of fun when the ball’s kicked off.”
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