NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is monitoring the ongoing rift between the Green Bay Packers and Brett Favre.
A person with direct knowledge of Goodell's interest said the commissioner has spoken with Packers management several times recently as tensions mounted between the three-time MVP and his team.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks.
ESPN.com first reported Goodell's interest in the Favre predicament, indicating that Goodell encouraged Packers general manager Ted Thompson to survey teams around the league to try to find a trade partner in hopes of resolving it quickly.
With the Packers committed to moving forward with Aaron Rodgers as their starter and Favre apparently still intent on reversing his decision to retire in March &
although there have been no reports that Favre has formally petitioned Goodell for reinstatement &
the best outcome for both parties could be a trade.
And Tampa Bay is emerging as perhaps the most likely destination for Favre, although it is unclear whether Favre would be willing to play for the Buccaneers.
NFL.com reported Tuesday that the Packers had spoken to several teams to gauge their interest in a trade for Favre. Tampa Bay officials have publicly downplayed interest in trading for Favre, but Buccaneers quarterback Chris Simms told the St. Petersburg Times that Bucs general manager Bruce Allen asked him about Favre last week.
"He asked if I felt Brett would be able to come back and be good here if he didn't have a lot of reps in training camp," Simms said, according to the paper. "I said I thought he would but there would have to be some compromise with coach (Jon) Gruden. He'll just want the play called and to drop back and throw it in there. But it's something we talked about."
Gruden was a Packers assistant coach from 1992-94 and runs a version of the West Coast offense Favre would be familiar with.
The Packers play the Buccaneers Sept. 28 in Tampa.
Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said he "can't imagine" seeing Favre anywhere other than Green Bay, but isn't surprised that he wants to play again.
"He loves football, and I think he kind of made the decision when the season was over," Urlacher said. "He was tired, he probably was worn down, like he said and he made a decision that he didn't want to stick with. But he's Brett Favre, he can do whatever he wants. I don't know what's going to happen, but I would like to see him playing somewhere next year."
But Urlacher said Chicago wasn't a likely destination for Favre.
"For us? I don't think that's a possibility," Urlacher said. "If they do trade him, I don't think it's going to be in our division, No. 1. Maybe not even in our conference."
Favre made an appearance at Lambeau Field on Saturday to present former teammate Frank Winters for induction to the Packers' Hall of Fame, but declined to discuss his rift with the team. Favre accepted a team MVP award that night, calling himself "an old, gray-haired quarterback showing I can still do it."
Favre retired in early March, but recently has been having second thoughts about playing in 2008. But the latest, and most intense, episode in several offseasons' worth of Favre's flip-flopping on his future in football was met with lukewarm enthusiasm by the Packers, who spent the offseason planning to move forward with Rodgers.
Favre asked to be released from his contract, a request the team has no plans to grant. The next step for Favre could be to petition Goodell for reinstatement, a move that would force the Packers to release him or place him on their active roster. He also could be traded.
The Packers also have filed tampering charges against the Minnesota Vikings, suspecting that interest from the Vikings is the main reason Favre has changed his mind about playing in 2008.
Favre's rights belong to the Packers until his current contract expires after the 2010 season.
In an interview with Fox News last week, Favre criticized Thompson for being untruthful with him. Packers officials have gone out of their way not to criticize Favre, instead laying out a specific timeline of their dealings with him in the offseason in hopes that fans will understand why the team decided to move forward without No. 4.
The most significant episode in their timeline came in late March, when Favre led the Packers to believe he was going to unretire and they were prepared to welcome him back &
only to change his mind once again and stay retired.
AP Sports Writer Rick Gano contributed to this report from Bourbonnais, Ill.
AP source: NFL commish Goodell monitoring Favre situation