UPDATE: Favre reportedly tells Vikings he's not coming back
MANKATO, Minn. (AP) -- The Minnesota Vikings aren't giving up on Brett Favre yet. A person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Favre has informed the Vikings he won't return for a second season.
Yet as always with the 40-year-old star quarterback, things could change. He's waffled before and the Vikings are hoping he will again.
The person who spoke to the AP said Favre called coach Brad Childress and texted some players and team officials to say his injured left ankle is not responding as well to surgery and rehabilitation as he had hoped. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no official announcements were made.
After the Vikings completed a morning practice, Childress would not confirm Favre's status with the team and called it a "fluid situation." He told reporters that he had not heard from Favre directly about the decision, but said he could have a message waiting for him from the quarterback.
"I'm not a big hearsay person," Childress said. "I gotta hear it from the horse's mouth."
True enough. With Favre, nothing ever seems final. He told the Vikings last year he wouldn't play, but changed his mind and joined them immediately after they broke training camp. Childress even drove to the airport to pick him up for his 19th NFL season. Camp this year ends on Aug. 12.
Owner Zygi Wilf, vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman and vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski spent nearly the entire two-hour morning practice in a huddle. All three were unavailable for comment afterward.
"It wouldn't surprise me one way or the other whether he elects to play or whether he elects to retire," Childress said. "I think all of us can live with it either way. The big thing is that he's at peace with it."
Favre and his agent, Bus Cook, did not return messages from the AP.
Every Minnesota player asked about Favre after practice reacted with the hesitation after three years of answering questions about Favre's future.
"I plead the fifth on everything," defensive end Jared Allen said. "I love Brett and he reserves the right to do what he wants to do. We obviously love him as a teammate. We'd like to have him back. But until it's official, I'll believe it when I see it."
Favre has considered retiring every summer since 2002. It led to an ugly parting with the Packers that got him traded from Green Bay to the Jets in 2008. 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 had one of his best seasons last year, with career bests in completion percentage (68.4), quarterback rating (107.2) and fewest interceptions (7), while throwing for 33 TDs and 4,202 yards to lead the Vikings to an NFC North title. He hurt his left ankle in the NFC championship loss to the New Orleans Saints and had arthroscopic surgery in May.
Favre was under contract for $13 million this season, but only if he plays.
"It's always back and forth with Brett," said quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, in line to get the starting job if Favre is gone. "It's his decision. He deserves the opportunity to decide when he's going to retire or not, whether he wants to retire or not. It's up to him. Right now, I'm just trying to focus on getting better."
Nearly everyone had assumed Favre would return and he did nothing to discourage that. He threw passes for a second straight summer with high school students in Hattiesburg, Miss., joked about playing until he's 50 and said playing another year wouldn't worsen his already-damaged ankle.
Packers linebacker Nick Barnett said he didn't know whether to believe the latest news.
"It's like believing in Santa Claus. You get gifts, but you ain't seen Santa Claus," he said. "We'll see what happens ... If he does retire, congratulations. It's a well-deserved retirement. But if he does come back, we'll be gunning for him the same way."
If Favre doesn't play this season -- and if he decides to actually retire for good -- it will end one of the most storied careers in NFL history. A three-time league MVP (1995-97), Favre won the Super Bowl in 1997 with the Packers. His 11 Pro Bowl appearances are the most ever by a quarterback.
Indeed, Favre holds most major NFL records for a quarterback, including career touchdowns (497), yards passing (69,329); wins (181); and seasons with at least 3,000 yards passing (18).
Of course, he also has thrown the most interceptions (317) and been sacked 503 times -- a long, long history of wear and tear.
Many of Favre's sacks came on scrambles, and so did the picks as he fearlessly tried to force the ball -- underhanded, left-handed, whatever worked -- where few, if any, could put it. He's always been a gunslinger and never minded the label.
It cost the Vikings dearly in the NFC title game, when he threw an interception in New Orleans territory at the end of regulation that prevented an attempt at a game-winning field goal. The Saints won in overtime.
"I know when I leave the game, I'm going to miss it," Favre told The Associated Press in 2007, when the annual summer rite of indecision was still novel. "I know that. I'm not going to sit here and say, when I leave, it's over and I felt like I've done everything there is to do."
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who grew up in Wisconsin as a Favre fan, said he was surprised the veteran might hang it up after playing so well last season.
"If it is (true), then we were lucky enough to watch an unbelievable talent and great guy," Romo said. "But it's better to go the year before than a year too late."