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Only Favre can put this issue to rest

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We could, and probably should, fill this column with reasons why it's silly to even think about bringing Brett Favre to the Bucs this late in training camp. It's just nuts to still be talking about turning the team over to a new quarterback only days before the first exhibition game.

Even Jon Gruden, who probably holds out hope for Jake Plummer, isn't this crazy.

If this were anyone else, it would be crazy. But it's Brett Favre, so the story lives. It broke wide open Tuesday that his relationship with the Packers is ruptured beyond repair and that the Bucs could be his best (maybe only) alternative if he wants to keep playing.

The Bucs have a quarterback; a darned good one, named Jeff Garcia. But he is not Brett Favre.

Jon Gruden's offense is too complicated for anyone to learn in the month that remains before the regular season. Anyone except Brett Favre.

No other quarterback would be worth this melodrama and, who knows, maybe Favre ultimately won't be worth it either. Maybe he won't agree to a trade here. Maybe he'll decide to go sit on a tractor in Mississippi instead of starting over with the men of pewter.

But we have to find out now. This story needs a resolution.

We need to hear from Favre that he either wants to come to Tampa or he doesn't. And if he does want to come, the deal needs to get done quickly to get him here, because it's just about to the point of no return – even for Brett Favre.

Either that, or just let it go.

The first exhibition game is Saturday at Miami, and even if a trade is completed Wednesday, Favre certainly wouldn't play. That leaves only three other practice games to learn a new system, work behind a new line, and learn a new receiving corps.

Two-a-days in training camp will be over soon, so to help Favre get ready Gruden probably would have to let him work deeper into the exhibition games with many of the regulars. That could rob backups and young players trying to make the team of valuable experience. But if the Bucs get Favre there may not be a choice.

Then there's the question of what the Bucs do with Jeff Garcia.

They've basically let him dangle since all this Favre talk started, which is their way of saying "we own you, pal, and you'll do what we say." Garcia was a backup on a playoff team in Philadelphia, but he went there specifically for that role. He only got to play after Donovan McNabb was hurt.

How Garcia would handle tossing the ball and the starting job to Favre would be another matter. Could the Bucs even keep him around? You'd think not, but the delay in acquiring Favre is double-edged – the same clock ticking here against Favre is working against any notion of sending Garcia to another team in a trade.

They wouldn't just release Garcia, you wouldn't think. But if they acquire Favre and can't trade Garcia, could the two co-exist?

Finally, there is one big question that only Favre can answer: Is his heart really still in it?

His ego is bruised. He tried a power play to force a trade to Minnesota and apparently lost that gambit. He still holds some cards, though, so the Bucs have to be sure he really wants to play here before this goes on even another day.

One national story Tuesday said Favre "reluctantly" agreed to talk with the Bucs. Others have suggested he is lukewarm at best to the notion of playing here under any circumstance. This guy has changed his mind before, so what happens if he says "yeah, sure I'll come" and the trade gets made, only to change his mind a month later?

I've thought all along the Bucs should go after Favre, even as the opening of training camp approached. I still think it can work if he is willing and truly committed. Favre's presence would no doubt send a needed jolt to a wary fan base, too. He would create quite a buzz in town.

Until he stands up and says he wants to be a Buc, though, everyone is just guessing.

Enough with the guesses.

It is time for answers.

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