"It's hard to admit I'm not 25 anymore,'' Brett Favre said late Tuesday night, when what he'd done began to sink in. He still sounded stunned that a few hours earlier he'd called Minnesota coach Brad Childress and shunned his dream job: quarterback on a team with a great defense and the best running back in football, with coaches who run a scheme he could operate falling out of bed.
"I passed up the greatest chance I could have had right now, and it hurts,'' Favre said. "By saying no, I know I'm leaving an incredible opportunity on the table, and that opportunity is not coming back.''
There's no sense in asking the question about whether this is it for Favre. He said he was finished 17 months ago in Green Bay, and he insisted he was finished five months ago after leaving the Jets. Even he knows his gut feeling can't be trusted right now.
"Very unlikely,'' he said. "I really believe this is it. I truly, truly believe it's over. But if someone calls Nov. 1, who knows?''
That's the maddening part of Favre, and the part that makes fans hate his waffling. The fact that he'll keep throwing the ball at Oak Grove (Miss.) High -- just down the street from his home -- and continue working out is going to fan the flames that he's not done. He knows that. "I'll toss the ball around, but I ain't tossing it to keep in shape to play,'' he said.
So why is he not coming back? It comes down to Favre, who turns 40 in October, feeling his age. He spent the last eight weeks working out hard to prepare for a possible return, operating under the premise that if his surgically repaired right arm felt fine, he'd certainly return. But when he worked out earlier this month, he said he felt like he'd just played in a game. He had more aches and pains -- a knee and ankles mostly -- than he ever had while working out.
"I thought I could make it through the season, though I wouldn't be 100 percent,'' he said. "But is that the way you want to enter a season? I don't think so. It was hard to keep telling myself, 'Brett, the second week of camp you'll feel better.' I don't know if that would have been true. So mentally, I don't think there's much to explain about it. I just didn't think my body would hold up the way it had in the past.
"A lot of people, I know, have been saying, 'Well, you strung the Vikings along. Why the hell couldn't you have told them earlier?' What do you think I was doing? I was trying to figure it out.''
So, for now it's over. For now. With Brett Favre and retirement, that's all you can say.
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