Football vs. big picture in Green Bay

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
A former Green Bay Packers official, who now runs The National Football Post, has an interesting take about how the Brett Favre trade played out inside the team's offices at Lambeau Field.

The Packers' long-standing mantra, writes former contract negotiator Andrew Brandt, calls for the team's president, executive committee and board of directors to "support and stay out of the way of football operations."

Therefore, Brandt writes, "the trade of Brett Favre was a decision made the same way every decision regarding the player product is made in Green Bay: Independent of any administrative or managerial meddling."

This approach is almost always preferable to the alternative: An owner inserting himself into the football process, regardless of his professional expertise or skills. In Green Bay, general manager Ted Thompson essentially has full autonomy to pick players and hire a staff, which includes coach Mike McCarthy.

The Favre situation, however, might have been a rare exception to this rule. I've had a number of people suggest that the Packers' standoff with Favre transcended football. Indeed, it could potentially affect all areas of the Packers' operations -- including ticket sales, branding, marketing and legacy.

For that reason, there are many NFL observers who wouldn't have faulted president/CEO Mark Murphy for stepping in more forcefully and, in essence, ordering Thompson to resolve the situation much earlier than he did. While Thompson might have viewed his path as appropriate from a football perspective, it might not have been healthy for the Packers in a larger sense.

Murphy, however, is still in his first year as the franchise's top administrator. As a former player, he is extremely sensitive to an perception that he might intrude on the Packers' football operations. Murphy did travel to Hattiesburg, Miss., to meet with Favre and agent James "Bus" Cook, but afterward he took great pains to insist that no issues of football were discussed. (Reportedly, Murphy was trying to convince Favre to accept a personal services contract to remain retired.)

The reality is Murphy had no way out of the box. Stepping in, or "meddling," would have violated the apparently sacred trust between the Packers' football and business sides. But allowing the football side to direct the process risked damage to the franchise as a whole. There was no good choice.