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Bucs' Gruden: Let's get past hurt feelings

Coach Jon Gruden, talking with reporters at the Bucs’ first-ever night practice, didn’t apologize for considering a trade for Brett Favre. “If you don’t look into it, if you don’t survey the situation for yourself, you really don’t get all the information. … We want to win games,’’ he said.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Coach Jon Gruden, talking with reporters at the Bucs’ first-ever night practice, didn’t apologize for considering a trade for Brett Favre. “If you don’t look into it, if you don’t survey the situation for yourself, you really don’t get all the information. … We want to win games,’’ he said.

LAKE BUENA VISTA — The first night practice ever for the Bucs at Disney's Wide World of Sports served as the perfect backdrop for coach Jon Gruden on Thursday.

It was there under the glare of bright bulbs shining down that Gruden tried to finally shed some light on the Bucs' failed pursuit of quarterback Brett Favre.

It's also where he attempted to begin to repair the potentially damaged relationship between the team and starter Jeff Garcia.

"It was a Catch-(22) situation," Gruden said. "If you don't look into it, if you don't survey the situation for yourself, you really don't get all the information, all you get are reports. But I had a chance to talk to Brett a couple times, talked to his wife. We want to win games.

"We need to get Jeff healthy and out on our practice field, that's an understatement. But I feel good about, A) being involved in this, knowing exactly what happened and B) I feel good about our quarterbacks as I said at the opening of training camp. I hope at the end of the day, if there are some feelings hurt, hopefully we can get over that and move on. We've got work to do."

The Bucs spent much of Thursday trying to provide a postmortem of their failed attempts to trade for Favre, the three-time MVP whose 16-year career ended in Green Bay when he was dealt to the Jets on Wednesday night.

At precisely the same time Favre was being introduced at a news conference in Cleveland, where the Jets were playing the Browns in a preseason game Thursday night, general manager Bruce Allen carefully outlined the Bucs' somewhat limited efforts to acquire Favre.

It was the second attempt by Allen to clear the air. His first news conference Thursday morning provided as many questions as answers under the glare of television lights.

"We were receptive to hearing what they wanted to do," Allen said. "I'm not going to say I wasn't interested in Brett Favre. Yes, I was interested. …The big question, and I'm not going to play the hypothetical game myself, what if there wasn't an AFC team that was available? Now what? The changes the dynamics. But I don't want to start to get into it."

Among the details Allen provided:

• He said the Packers would never share with the Bucs what they wanted in terms of compensation for Favre. From the start, Allen felt it was clear Green Bay's intention was to trade Favre, 38, to an AFC team. The Packers did not give the Bucs a chance to match the Jets' offer.

• Allen said he did not learn of the details of that pact until they surfaced in media reports. Favre was traded to the Jets for a conditional fourth-round pick that could become a first-rounder if he leads the Jets to the Super Bowl. There is also a condition in the deal that the Jets would have to give up three first-round picks if they trade Favre to an NFC North team, the Packers' division.

"We never got a specific answer what they wanted," Allen said. "It appears they did what they wanted to do if they were going to have a divorce with Brett, that was to send him to an AFC team."

• Allen said he had doubts whether he would've been willing to match the Jets' deal. He said the Bucs never made the Packers an offer for Favre.

• Regarding Garcia, Allen said he did not believe the Bucs' pursuit of Favre would affect Garcia's play or attitude. "I don't see this as a poor reflection on Jeff," Allen said. "This is a very unique human being we were talking about."

Garcia, 38, did not attend the evening practice Thursday and he will not accompany the Bucs to Miami for the preseason opener Saturday against the Dolphins. He is receiving treatment for a right calf strain.

Even before the Bucs' pursuit of Favre, Garcia had been vocal about his disappointment over the team's failure to pay him a $1-million playing incentive he narrowly missed when the team rested him late in the season.

Garcia already has missed eight days of training camp with his injury and an excused absence during the first weekend. At some point, he and Gruden will try to make peace so Garcia can take the controls of the team he led to the playoffs last season.

"There's not any air to clear," Gruden said. "This is not going to become an Oprah Winfrey special.

"It's an awkward thing. We're talking about a guy who's Brett Favre, one of the tremendous players of all-time."

Times staff writer Stephen F. Holder contributed to this report.

Bucs' Gruden: Let's get past hurt feelings 08/07/08 [Last modified: Monday, August 11, 2008 3:22pm]
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