I give up.
All along, Brett Favre's decision was supposed to be simple. He had surgery in late May on a nagging biceps tendon in his throwing arm for one reason -- to clear the last hurdle toward playing a 19th year in the NFL. And his surgeon, the noted James Andrews, told him he was making splendid progress and he'd be fine and be able to throw at the start of the season with no pain.
And yet, something just didn't feel right. When Favre would talk to friends and associates in recent weeks, they noticed a reticence in his voice. "He was coming to the realization that he couldn't be 100 percent committed to football right now," one friend said Tuesday night. "Sometimes he felt ready to go, and sometimes he felt like, 'What am I doing?'"
That's the side of Favre that won out late Tuesday afternoon when he told Brad Childress that he would not be accepting the Vikings' offer to play quarterback for them in 2009.
So now I've been wrong three times. I thought he was retired last year and he played for the Jets. I thought he was retired this year, and I said he'll come back to play for the Vikings unless his arm is a problem. His arm wasn't. And he still isn't going to play. That's why I give up. Don't ask me anymore what I think about Favre, whether I think he's going to play or whether I think he's going to mow the grass for the rest of his life. I don't know because I honestly don't think he knows.
I talked to two people Tuesday night who know Favre and asked them the same question: Do you think he'll return at some point this year if some team suffers a big quarterback injury. One said he had no idea. The other said Favre's certainly in good enough shape. It wouldn't be a bit surprising.
And so at the end of the day, we're left to wonder if one of the most compelling football careers of all time is over or just on indefinite leave. I don't think anybody knows because I don't think Favre knows.
As for the Vikings, I disagree with those who say the loss of Favre leaves them mortally wounded. I say they're better at quarterback right now than they were at the close of the 2008 season. That's because Sage Rosenfels has a more accurate downfield arm than Gus Frerotte and more upside at this state of his career than Frerotte. Rosenfels will probably win the training camp battle against Tarvaris Jackson for the starting job. To me, that gives the Vikings a slight edge at quarterback over last year.
But it's not what coach Brad Childress or his offensive coordinator wanted heading into training camp. And Childress will have to answer questions for the first couple of days for training camp about putting so many eggs in the Favre basket and then getting slapped in the face by the quarterback. That's going to be a drag on the Vikings, something they're going to have to overcome if the offense is going to be better than last year.
Will they survive Favre hangover? I say the only way they do is by by Rosenfels becoming a 60 percent, 3,500-yard passer.
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