With his family "tugging" on him to play, Brett Favre has an "itch" to come out of retirement and report to training camp with the Green Bay Packers later this month, according to sources close to the team and player.
Favre has communicated his potential desire to coach Mike McCarthy but talks have not advanced to a substantive stage, a Packers source said.
On ESPN's NFL Live, Packers defensive back Al Harris said: "I've talked to Brett and I know he has the itch to come back and play. If he will or not, I don't know. But I know he's feeling he wants to play."
When asked how Favre expressed his desire to return, Harris said the quarterback said, "I got the itch."
The source said the Packers would be reluctant to open the door for Favre because "Brett retired for the right reasons, even though I know his family is tugging on him [to play]."
Another source conceded Favre was "getting the itch" to play football in 2008.
"As far as I know, right now, Brett Favre is retired and until he tells me something different, that's what it is," James "Bus" Cook, Favre's agent, said.
Favre was unavailable for comment. A Packers spokesman said that McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson were on vacation.
"The Packers have no reaction," team spokesman Jeff Blumb told The Associated Press.
Favre has two years remaining on his contract at an average of about $12.5 million per season. His salary is not currently counting toward the salary cap because the Packers placed him on the reserve-retired list.
If Favre decides that he absolutely wants to play this season, the Packers could be confronted with a sensitive issue. The entire offseason has been spent preparing Aaron Rodgers to play quarterback to the point where "the offensive scheme has evolved" and, psychologically, closing the door on Favre's legendary 17-year career.
"As a veteran and as a leader of the team," Harris said on NFL Live, "I would welcome Brett with open arms. "
He added: "We embrace Aaron. We support Aaron. Aaron is our quarterback. Brett is retired, but if he wants to come back, there will be some guys that wouldn't mind it."
Highlights of Favre's best 2007 moments.
If the Packers resist a stronger push by Favre to return, sources speculate that the quarterback could press the team to release him from his contract so that he could seek a job with another team. A league official said that Favre could force a decision by asking the Packers, in writing, to reinstate him to active status. The team would have to comply or release him.
"That's speculation and I wouldn't go there," a team source said. "We value Brett's legacy, we think he values it, and we'd want to protect that. Brett's a high-quality person and he's not going to push it that far. He'll do the right thing [and stay retired]. This was almost predictable, the idea that Brett would get the itch to play as we get closer to the season."
In an interview done with ESPN around the time Favre retired in early March, McCarthy predicted Favre "will have an itch to come back. I saw Joe Montana go through it, even though I was a younger coach in Kansas City at the time."
McCarthy said it was Favre who convinced the coach that retirement was the "right thing to do."
"I tried to talk him out of retirement," McCarthy said back in March. "Tom Clements [Green Bay's quarterbacks coach] and I were trying to sell him on the concept that he could still play at a high level with 80 to 85 percent of the commitment he had last year. Brett thought that maybe he could do it but he reasoned that when you cut back the commitment, you open yourself up to injury, to not being on top of your game -- which was very important to Brett -- and letting the team down in the process.
"Really, what Brett did was very honorable because the stress and pressure he feels is a direct result of the standard he sets for himself."