By Jon Krawczynski/The Associated Press
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The annual waiting game to see whether Brett Favre returns to the NFL got a bit more complicated Friday.
The 40-year-old quarterback said in a statement posted on his website that he needs surgery on his left ankle in order to play this season for the Minnesota Vikings. But he said he’s had surgery on it twice before, the injury “is not debilitating” and he’s come through far worse in his long career.
“I don’t believe major surgery on the ankle would be required for me to return in 2010,” Favre said. “I’ve consulted with Dr. (James) Andrews on the phone, and a relatively minor procedure could be done to improve the dexterity of the ankle, and to relieve the pain. I’ve put up with pain worse than this in my career, and I didn’t want anyone to assume that the possibility of surgery was the sole factor that would determine whether I return or not.”
Currently holding all the NFL’s major career passing records, Favre will turn 41 in October.
“The ankle pain is a factor, but one of many factors that I’ll need to consider in making my decision,” said Favre, who is believed to be at his home in Mississippi. “Other factors include the input of my family, and the wonderful experience that I had last year with the Vikings.”
Favre had earlier told ESPN that the injury still causes swelling and pain, and said Andrews told him an operation is unavoidable if he wants to keep playing.
“This decision would be easy if not for my teammates and the fans and the entire Vikings staff,” Favre said in the e-mail posted on ESPN.com. “One year truly felt like 10 — much like Green Bay for many years. That’s what I was missing in my heart I suppose, a sense of belonging.”
He then explained on his website that he’s able to work around his property without any trouble.
“Sure — certain exercises cause some ankle pain, but it’s nothing that I haven’t experienced (or played with) before,” he said. “In fact, many people don’t realize that I injured my ankle before the NFC Championship game. I’ve had surgery on this ankle twice before, and I’ve played with the pain before. The hits I took throughout the 2009 season, including the Saints game, just added to the ankle pain and likely caused some bone spurs.”
Vikings officials, including coach Brad Childress, were not immediately available Friday. Childress has said he has no problem waiting until training camp to welcome Favre back to the Vikings for the second year of his two-year deal.
Favre was a mainstay with the Green Bay Packers before waffling on his playing status and departing in an ugly divorce that got him traded to the New York Jets. 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 enjoyed one of the best seasons of his storied career, throwing for 33 touchdowns and only seven interceptions and guiding the Vikings to a 12-4 record. They finished just short of the Super Bowl, falling in overtime to New Orleans after an ill-advised pass by Favre was picked off in the fourth quarter by the Saints.
Now Favre and the Vikings are back in the same place as last year.
The quandary then was whether he wanted to have surgery to repair a partially torn biceps tendon in his right shoulder, a decision he made and didn’t regret. That surgery was with Andrews, the noted physician who works in Alabama and Florida.
Favre worked out last summer at the local high school in his Mississippi hometown, and video clips of him firing passes in a cap and a cutoff T-shirt to teenage wide receivers became must-see TV as intrigue about his intention increased.
His arm took a while to feel strong and it still took some persuasion from Childress, but three weeks into training camp Favre arrived and quickly ingratiated himself into the locker room and the fan base.
Favre is under contract for $13 million this season, but that’s only if he plays. The Vikings hope he does, with unproven options in Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels on the roster behind him. They did not pick a quarterback in the NFL draft last weekend.
Childress and the players have repeatedly said they’re fine with Favre taking his time to recuperate, refocus and recommit to playing, even if that means again skipping the grind of training camp.
There was plenty of chatter Friday about the latest development in the Favre saga, some of it coming in the NFC North.
Favre beat the Packers twice last season, and he was heartily booed in his appearance at Lambeau Field. With or without Favre, Green Bay should give two-time division champion Minnesota stiff competition for the title next season.
“Somebody tell Brett to have that surgery so I can make up for last year!!!” Packers linebacker Nick Barnett posted on Twitter.