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Teammates awaiting Favre's decision



Published: Thu, January 13, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Retirement by the Green Bay quarterback could spur major rebuilding.

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- If Brett Favre retires from the Packers next season, it might cause a changing of the guards in Green Bay.

Pro Bowl right guard Marco Rivera is heading into unrestricted free agency, and left guard Mike Wahle almost certainly will join him because of the prohibitive $6 million roster bonus he's due in March.

Both said Favre's plans will impact their decisions.

"If Favre retires, I'm really going to have to look at the big picture," Rivera said. "If he's here, I definitely want to stay here. I want to retire with Brett, whenever that is."

Wahle feels just as strongly.

"I'd lie to you if I said it didn't have any bearing. He's been the guy here and he's the guy that gives this team a chance to win every time he's on the field," Wahle said. "I think his decision affects a lot of people. I'm just a small, small piece of that."

Disappointing end

Favre, 35, had another stellar season, surpassing 4,000 yards passing and 30 touchdowns in guiding Green Bay to the playoffs for the 10th time -- tops in the free agency era.

But he threw four interceptions in the Packers' 31-17 loss to Minnesota on Sunday in one of the worst performances of his 14-year career.

Favre doesn't want that game to have an effect on his decision whether he should keep playing. He hopes to give the Packers an answer in several weeks so they have time to plan their off-season accordingly.

"Gut feeling, I think he'll be back for one more year," said backup quarterback Doug Pederson, one of Favre's closest friends. "He'll take some time to really think about where he's at physically and mentally and how this year went and where he wants to go and see if this team is capable of getting back to the Super Bowl."

Coach Mike Sherman might be asked by team president Bob Harlan to relinquish his general manager duties. Either way, the Packers need to overhaul a defense that ranked 28th and allowed a franchise-worst 33 touchdown passes and forcing just 15 takeaways.

A similar makeover might be necessary on offense.

Center Mike Flanagan, who underwent season-ending knee surgery a month into the season, said he expects to be back at full speed by the June minicamp to anchor a line he hopes is intact. In addition to the two starting guards, top backup tackle Kevin Barry is a restricted free agent.

Flanagan said he can't imagine returning to a line without Rivera and Wahle.

"Those are my guys. I played with them forever and they've helped me become the player I've become and hopefully I've helped them the same way," Flanagan said. "I didn't think we'd be able to get Chad Clifton back last year and they found a way to do it."

Clifton signed a $32.4 million, six-year deal last off-season. Rivera and Wahle said they won't give the Packers a discount.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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