GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -Every offseason, Green Bay Packers fans chew their fingernails to the nub while human cliffhanger Brett Favre decides whether to retire.
And every time, No. 4 reaches the same conclusion: that he still can play, and he just can't say no to football.
So far, Favre hasn't said anything about his plans for 2008 - beyond, of course, the playoffs in January. But Favre did provide some insight on Wednesday into the thought process behind his decision to return for this season.
Yes, Favre saw potential in the young Packers, but he didn't expect them to have an 11-2 record and division title wrapped up going into Sunday's game at St. Louis.
``I thought it would be fun, because we would have a chance to win every game,'' Favre said. ``Did I think to this degree? Probably not, but I thought it was possible. I thought we would have a chance to win most of these games.''
Favre's decision to return this year came in early February after dragging out the process until late April in 2006. But the relative quickness of Favre's decision to delay retirement didn't reflect a level of certainty about the chances of this year's team making the playoffs.
When the Packers won their last four games last season, Favre saw that streak mostly as a sign of the developing defense, not the offense.
``It wasn't some four-game stretch where everyone said, 'Wow, this is what we expect out of this offense,''' Favre said. ``As I thought about that at the end of the season, I said it wasn't so much what we did offensively, but yet we won games. And I said if we can get a little better on offense, and there is potential, this might be pretty fun.''
By itself, that potential wasn't enough to get Favre to come back. Instead, Favre simply had to decide whether he still wanted to play.
``Because that's the bottom line,'' Favre said. ``You can search for all these answers and ways to convince yourself of not coming back or coming back. The bottom line was, I couldn't say no. I wanted to play.''
But Favre seemed to develop buyer's remorse three months later and began complaining publicly that the Packers' front office wasn't doing enough in free agency to improve the team. There was even a report that Favre's agent floated the idea of a trade after the team failed to sign wide receiver Randy Moss, a notion Favre later distanced himself from, but didn't completely deny.
Favre admits he had doubts.
``Sure, doubt has creeped in, not only this past year but any other year,'' Favre said. ``I don't think I'm any different than anyone else. I'm optimistic and, for the most part, say and do the right things. But how I felt internally at times, sure, I questioned my ability, I questioned everyone in this building.''
Packers coach Mike McCarthy told Favre to focus on things he can control, because even coaches can fall into the trap of worrying about what other teams have done to seemingly make themselves better.
``I think that's a common problem,'' McCarthy said. ``You see it every year. You see people acquire players in the offseason and you say they're going to be good next year. We do it as coaches - but they're on paper. They haven't played together yet. You have to mesh. Every team has to rejuvenate itself every year. You have to go through that process.
``I just believed in our approach. I believed in our players. I always felt their ability. He acknowledged it. He felt there was a lot of talent since last year. He said it in the first training camp when we were all here together. You have to trust the process. We all did, and we're 11-2 right now.''
Favre took McCarthy's advice - and now is glad he decided to come back.
``Ultimately, it came down to me, what I thought I could do,'' Favre said. ``It wasn't about everyone else, and I've always known that. How I play is the only thing I can control. And so I felt like the bottom line was, I felt like I could still play. I still felt like I could play at a high level.''
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