Favre: ‘I haven’t made a decision’ yet
Here we go again.
A day after Brett Favre reportedly texted Vikings teammates to tell them he intends to retire, the future of the legendary quarterback seems much less clear.
Favre said Wednesday that he has not made up his mind on retirement and likely will return for a 20th season if he feels his body can take it.
"I haven’t made a decision," said Favre, who also denied sending text messages to the Vikings telling them otherwise.
Then, Favre told reporters his decision is "not about the money." He also said he has been in touch with the team and "they know what’s going on with me."
Favre made those comments in Hattiesburg, Miss., where he was practicing with players at Oak Grove High School. He did not appear to be working out, but simply ran onto the field and began lightly tossing the ball with players in warmups. He then helped an assistant coach as the players went through drills.
The former league MVP has told the Vikings his ankle is not responding well after offseason surgery, but it once again appears his mind is not made up.
Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and Favre’s agent, Bus Cook, both said Wednesday that the veteran quarterback plans to play if he is healthy. He had surgery on the ankle in May.
Bevell has been close friends with Favre since he was his quarterbacks coach with the Green Bay Packers.
"I know it’s a decision that he wrestles with," Bevell said after Wednesday morning’s practice. "He’s a great player. He’s a great competitor. He mulls things over. He’s an emotional guy. So he thinks things through long and hard and takes his time with his decision. So I’m not surprised that things started to come out. We just have to wait and see."
Bevell said he has spoken to the 40-year-old quarterback recently, but not in the last 24 hours. He said it’s been his understanding that if Favre’s ankle heals well enough, he will return to play for the Vikings this season.
"That’s what I’ve been getting all along," Bevell said.
Cook said Favre will visit his surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, next week for an evaluation.
"He’s working out really hard and everything seems to indicate that if he is healthy and can contribute and play at the level that he has become accustomed to, he will play," Cook said.
The Vikings also aren’t giving up. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the team is poised to offer Favre more money to stick around for another season. The reported deal could pay him $20 million — $16 million guaranteed, plus incentives potentially worth another $4 million. Favre was scheduled to make $13 million in 2010.
The latest Favre retirement seesaw began Tuesday when Favre apparently told some of his Vikings teammates he planned to retire.
”He told a couple guys on our team he’s going to retire,” Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said after practice. ”He hasn’t told me yet. I’m going to check my phone right now, but it hasn’t been said publicly yet so I don’t know what to believe.”
Even with Favre’s history of flip-flopping, the revelations came as a surprise to most surrounding the Vikings. They reported to training camp last week confident that after they wrapped things up in Mankato on Aug. 12, Favre would join them in the Twin Cities — just as he did last season.
But Favre’s messages to teammates turned things upside down.
Head coach Brad Childress said after the morning practice that he had not been directly contacted by Favre and called the 40-year-old quarterback’s status with the team ”fluid.” Childress has shown a great deal of patience with Favre, saying he would not set a deadline for a decision and allowing him to skip training camp for a second straight year.
”It wouldn’t surprise me one way or the other, whether he elects to play or whether he elects to retire,” Childress said. ”I think all of us can live with it either way. The big thing is that he is at peace with it.”
With Favre, of course, there is always the chance that he changes his mind, and that’s what the Vikings are hoping for yet again. He told the Vikings last year he wouldn’t play, but ultimately ended up joining them after they broke training camp. Childress even drove to the airport to pick him up for his 19th NFL season.
”I love Brett and he reserves the right to do what he wants to do,” defensive end Jared Allen said. ”We obviously love him as a teammate. We’d like to have him back. But until it’s official, I’ll believe it when I see it.”
Star running back Adrian Peterson said his gut feeling was that Favre would be handing him the ball in the Sept. 9 opener against New Orleans, and that is what Saints receiver Lance Moore expects to see as well.
”I don’t believe it,” Moore said at Saints camp in Metairie, La. ”As competitive as he is, I would be shocked if he wasn’t here for opening night.”
Like the rest of the league, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he was taking a "wait and hear" approach to the latest twist in the Favre saga.
"Brett Favre is great for our game. And I think the passion he has for the game is extraordinary," he said. "I think we all love to see him play, but we want him to do what’s best for him at the end of the day."
Favre has considered retiring every summer since 2002. It led to an ugly parting with the Packers that got him traded from Green Bay to the Jets in 2008. After a so-so season in New York, he announced his retirement in early 2009 for the second time, then reconsidered and signed with the Vikings.
He had one of his best seasons last year, with career bests in completion percentage (68.4), quarterback rating (107.2) and fewest interceptions (7), while throwing for 33 TDs and 4,202 yards to lead the Vikings to an NFC North title. He hurt his left ankle in the NFC championship loss to the New Orleans Saints and had arthroscopic surgery in May.
Favre was under contract for this season, but only if he plays.
With unproven Tarvaris Jackson in line to start at quarterback if Favre does retire, the Vikings know they need him back.
”It definitely will be a blow to the team (if he retires),” Shiancoe said. ”Be real. It will be a setback to the team. It’s just something that I’m pretty sure the reason has to be a strong reason.”
There are plenty of guys in purple who think the NFL’s iron man, who turns 41 in October, has one more season left in him.
”I’m going to try to get him here every chance I get,” Shiancoe said. ”I’m going to try to send him texts or something. But at the same time, I know he made a decision for a reason and hopefully that reason transforms or gets better.”
If this is indeed the end for Favre, what a career.
"He is an emotional guy. He does tell you how he’s feeling. He is very honest," Bevell said. "That’s what I love about him and that’s what a lot of people love about him. Sometimes it serves him well, sometimes it doesn’t."
A three-time league MVP (1995-97), Favre won the Super Bowl in 1997 with the Packers. His 11 Pro Bowl appearances are the most ever by a quarterback. He holds most major NFL records for a quarterback, including career touchdowns (497), yards passing (69,329); wins (181); and seasons with at least 3,000 yards passing (18).
Of course, he also has thrown the most interceptions (317) and been sacked 503 times – a long, long history of wear and tear.
”It’s like believing in Santa Claus. You get gifts, but you ain’t seen Santa Claus,” said linebacker Nick Barnett, whose Packers will be challenging the Vikings for the NFC North title this year. ”We’ll see what happens … If he does retire, congratulations. It’s a well-deserved retirement. But if he does come back, we’ll be gunning for him the same way.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.