MANKATO, Minn. — Brett Favre probably could have gotten more peace and quiet if he had simply shown up for the Vikings’ training camp.
A day after NFL sources said Favre sent messages to Vikings personnel and team officials telling them that he planned to retire, the quarterback denied doing any such thing and told reporters in a brief interview in Hattiesburg, Miss., that he will return for a 20th NFL season if he is healthy.
That is the big issue for Favre, who underwent surgery on his left ankle in late May and still isn’t satisfied with how it feels. “I haven’t made a decision yet, so that tells you one thing,” Favre said.
Favre’s agent, Bus Cook, said the quarterback will visit noted surgeon James Andrews next week to have the ankle examined. “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.
Favre, who will turn 41 on Oct. 10 and led the Vikings to the NFC title game last season, did say he has a time frame in mind for making a decision and has talked to the team so it knows when that decision might come. “That is up for discussion,” Favre said. “But they know and we know.”
Favre also denied that his absence is related in any way to getting a raise on the $13 million he is due in 2010. “It has nothing to do with money,” Favre said.
However, according to NFL sources, the Vikings appear willing to sweeten the pot for Favre with an offer that could pay him $20 million, including $16 million guaranteed, plus incentives potentially worth $4 million based on postseason success.
Cook said he has not started negotiations with the Vikings, who signed Favre to a two-year contract last Aug. 18 when he ended his second attempt at retirement.
“It will ultimately be his decision, but it’s definitely not about the money,” Cook said. “If they want to reward him, nobody’s going to walk away from that. But it’s not a factor in his decision.”
Favre, as is his routine, spent time Wednesday morning at Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg, Miss., throwing just a few passes before helping coach players. Afterward, Favre said he did not send text messages informing anyone with the Vikings he was done.
That was contrary to what Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said Tuesday when he admitted Favre had “told a couple of guys on the team that he was going to retire.” Shiancoe, though, had not talked to Favre himself and Wednesday he declined to comment further on the situation.
“That’s Shank, that’s why I love him,” Favre said when asked about the admission.
In reality, there is little question that Favre did send the texts, and his comments Wednesday seemed to be an attempt to put the genie back in the bottle. The increase in the Vikings’ offer to Favre appears to be one reason he decided to take more time to make his decision.
Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell was not asked about the texts during a news conference after practice Wednesday, but he is good friends with Favre and served as his quarterbacks coach for three seasons in Green Bay (2003-05). “He is an emotional guy,” Bevell said. “He does tell you how he’s feeling. He is very honest. 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.”
Vikings coach Brad Childress said he did not talk to Favre on Tuesday, and Bevell added that while he had spoken to Favre recently it was not in the past 24 hours. “I know it’s a decision that he wrestles with,” Bevell said. “He’s a great player. He’s a great competitor. He mulls things over. . . . He thinks things through long and hard and takes his time with his decision. So I’m not surprised that (reports) started to come out (in recent days). We just have to wait and see.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, visiting the Baltimore Ravens camp on Wednesday, also weighed in on the Favre situation. “Brett Favre is great for our game,” Goodell said in an Associated Press report. “And I think the passion he has for the game is extraordinary. 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.”
Staff Writer Jim Souhan contributed to this report.
Judd Zulgad/Star Tribune (Minneapolis)