UPDATE: Vikings coach says Favre not coming back

MINNEAPOLIS — Brett Favre has handed the Minnesota Vikings one more loss.

The 39-year-old Favre called Vikings coach Brad Childress on Tuesday to tell the coach he won’t be coming out of retirement to play for Minnesota.

“It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made,” Favre told ESPN. “I didn’t feel like physically I could play at a level that was acceptable. I would like to thank everyone, including the Packers, Jets and Vikings — but, most importantly, the fans.”

The decision, which was first reported by the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, is a stunning blow for the Vikings after they openly courted Favre all summer. Adding Favre would have been viewed by many as the final piece for a team that already has star running back Adrian Peterson and a stingy veteran defense that returns nearly intact from last year’s NFC North title season.

“It was a rare and unique opportunity to consider adding not only a future Hall of Fame quarterback but one that is very familiar with our system and division,” Childress said in a prepared statement. “That does not detract from the team that we have.”

Last year, Favre tearfully retired from the Green Bay Packers after 17 seasons in the NFL and three MVP awards — then made an about-face and played for the New York Jets. He retired again, had surgery in May to alleviate a torn biceps tendon and then flirted with the idea of coming back again with the Vikings, the Packers’ NFC North rival.

“When I heard the news, I was probably as surprised and shocked as everybody else,” linebacker Ben Leber told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “The writing on the wall was as long as his arm was healthy he was going to play. I thought it was just a contractual deal that was taking so long and I really expected him to be at camp. So I was really surprised.”

After two months of rehab, Favre told Childress he didn’t think he had enough in him to get through a full season.

Jon Krawczynski/The Associated Press