HATTIESBURG, MISSISSIPPI // Brett Favre had finished throwing passes to the youngsters at Oak Grove High School and poked his head out of the field house. He saw a few reporters standing near his truck, waiting to ask him about his future plans. Favre ducked back inside and, moments later, someone else jumped into Favre's truck and drove it around to the front of the building.
With a grin on his face, the 40-year-old quarterback ran out of the building, hopped in and drove off with nothing more than a playful wave to the waiting reporters. Whether he is throwing passes to high school receivers or dodging members of the media, Favre looks like he is getting along just fine on that surgically repaired ankle. The quarterback, who created a controversy last summer when he waited until the last minute to decide whether to play, has yet to tell the Minnesota Vikings if he will return for a 20th season in the NFL.
But most people with the team and around the NFL would be stunned if he did not come back. He had arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle in May and has been throwing to receivers at the high school for a few weeks. His actions lend an air of inevitability to another sequel to the summer blockbuster "Favre-a-palooza," as the Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe likes to call it. "He ain't working out for no reason," said Tarvaris Jackson, the Vikings' backup quarterback. "I welcome him back. There's nothing I can do about it so I'm going to welcome him back and hopefully get to the Super Bowl."
The Vikings have made it clear they would accept a timetable similar to last season, when Favre joined the team after they ended their training camp, in time for the second game of the pre-season. It did not take long for him to get settled in, last year. He had one of the best seasons of his career, with career bests in completion percentage (68.4), quarterback rating (107.2) and fewest interceptions (seven), while throwing for 33 touchdowns and 4,202 yards to lead the Vikings to a division championship.
Minnesota lost to New Orleans in the NFC title game. Favre threw for 310 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, the last coming in Saints territory late in the fourth quarter, a gaffe that sent the game into overtime. Favre took a tremendous beating in that game and said that he would not take long to make a decision on returning for the second year of his contract, which calls for a salary of US$13 million (Dh47.7m).
Most around the NFL believe that the quarterback who holds the career records for most touchdown passes, most completions and most passing yards will be back. "He will be there for sure," Larry Fizgerald, the Arizona Cardinals receiver, said last week at his camp in Minneapolis. "Who would turn down $13 million? Would you?" It never seems to be that easy for Favre, who has retired and come back twice. "You can't blame him," Michael Irvin, a Hall of Fame receiver, said. of Favre's hesitancy to retire. "I tell people all the time: Don't be stupid. Don't allow your ego to make you walk away from the greatest thing you will ever experience. "You make them drag you off the field. You will never have this again in your life." * AP
Brett Favre is 40 years old, well short of the record for the oldest quarterback to start an NFL game. The top three: Steve DeBerg, Atlanta Falcons He was 44 years, 279 days old when he started against the New York Jets on October 25, 1998. The Falcons lost 28-3. Vinny Testaverde, Carolina Panthers He was 44 years, 27 days old when he started against the Jacksonville Jaguars on December 9, 2007. The Panthers lost 37-6. Warren Moon, Kansas City Chiefs He was 44 years, 8 days old when he started against the San Diego Chargers on November 26, 2000. The Chiefs lost 17-16.