Here We Go Again: Favre Watch Begins
The battered and beaten-up quarterback didn't look so ageless after Sunday night's NFC championship game, especially in defeat. Yet he wrapped his sore arms around each player, whispered a few emotional words, and even shed a tear or two.
What a year it was. What a year it could have been. What an offseason it should be.
Yep, here we go again.
"I know people will roll their eyes," Favre said.
The next Favre Watch has begun. The Minnesota Vikings' stinging 31-28 overtime loss Sunday night to the New Orleans Saints set the rumor and speculation wheels in motion as to whether Favre, now 40, will really walk away from the game he loves and has loved him in return; 310 consecutive starts worth of love.
The NFL is far more interesting with Favre in it, but it may be months before we know if his Hall of Fame resume is officially complete.
"I would not say months," Favre said after completing 28 of 46 passes for 310 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, including a costly one in the final seconds of regulation with the Vikings on the cusp of field-goal range in a tie game. "In a situation like this, I really don't want to make a decision right now based on solely what's happened. I do know the year could not have gone better aside from us not going to [the Super Bowl]. I really enjoyed the guys."
He paused, if only for a second.
"I wonder if I can hold up, especially after a day like today, physically and mentally. It was pretty draining."
The Saints, with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams sending blitzes from all places, rattled Favre all day. New Orleans had no sacks, but the Saints put Favre on the ground repeatedly, drawing a couple roughing-the-quarterback penalties. They probably should have gotten a third when defensive end Bobby McCray and tackle Remi Ayodele dined on a Favre sandwich on a play that ended with a Jonathan Vilma interception late in the third quarter. Favre had to be carried off the field with an ankle injury after the play, but hobbled back for the next series with his ankle re-taped.
"I've felt better," Favre said, his face awash in welts. "It was a physical game. A lot of hits, but you win and you sure feel better. The style of defense that they play, we knew there would be those types of hits."
Drew Brees, who was in middle school when he first started watching Favre play, wasn't surprised.
"He battled," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. "He's a competitor, and he always fights to the end."
But was this the end? No one knows. Not Favre, the Green Bay icon and one-year, soar-armed New York Jets sideshow. Certainly not Minnesota coach Brad Childress, who lured him out of a second retirement with a two-year, $25 million deal. Nor do his teammates, with whom he enjoyed one of the greatest seasons (33 touchdowns, 7 interceptions) of his Hall of Fame career.
"I don't know," Childress said. "I told him to go home and lick [his] wounds."
Said Pro Bowl wideout Sidney Rice: "I'm not going to put too much pressure on him. I'm going to let him sit back like he said he would do and talk to his family and things like that. We definitely would love to have him back."
His inspiring run that got so close to another Super Bowl must have had Favre picturing the possibility of riding into the sunset of retirement as a champion, a la John Elway in 1999.
That very definition of "going out on top" was pitched to Favre after the game.
"I'd love to win a Super Bowl. Who wouldn't?" he asked. "I can't print anything for you guys, but I'm going out on top one way or the other. I didn't think I had anything to prove coming in, but if there were doubters out there, maybe I sold notice to them. My goal was to get to Miami and obviously, that is not going to happen. But if it was [my last game], no doubt, I'm on top."