John Elway has a message for Brett Favre: Just do it.
"If he decides not to play now and doesn't come back, I think he'll question that for the rest of his life," the retired Denver Broncos star said.
Joe Montana has a message for Favre too: Just do something.
"If he's ready to play, then yeah, he should," Montana said. "But usually when you're waffling like that it makes it difficult on everybody. . . . If it was the first time he's done it, it would be different. But we've seen it already, and here we go again. I'm sure that's all [the Minnesota Vikings] are thinking about."
The two Hall of Fame quarterbacks weighed in on the Favre situation Friday while warming up for the Madden NFL 10 Pigskin Pro-Am, a celebrity flag-football game in Malibu.
The latest reports indicate Favre is still torn over whether to return, and that he probably will make a decision before the Vikings report to training camp Thursday.
He has said the decision hinges on how his surgically repaired throwing arm feels.
Elway, who retired in 1999 after leading the Broncos to consecutive Super Bowl victories, said the desire to come back isn't easy to suppress.
"You always think mentally you can play," he said. "It's just a matter of whether you can do it physically or not. My last year, I got beat up quite a bit. I pulled a hamstring and hurt some ribs, and it just never heals. That's when I knew that I could probably come back and play, but could I come back and play a 16-game schedule, get into the playoffs, play three more games and win a Super Bowl and stay healthy? That was my concern. I didn't think I could do that anymore."
Like Favre, Elway suffered an injury to the biceps on his throwing arm that required surgery. In 1997, Elway suffered a ruptured tendon, and his biceps now looks like an apple with a huge bite taken out of it. Broncos doctors said at the time of the surgery that there was very little necessary biceps function involved when Elway threw the ball, a motion far more reliant on his triceps. His Super Bowl victories came after the injury.
Elway, in turn, said Favre should be fine -- and even better than fine if his pain has been alleviated.
"With his shoulder, if they released that biceps tendon and cut it, his arm is going to feel great," he said. "I popped mine two years before [retirement], and as soon as I popped it it was great. What I heard is he had the same type thing. If he did, then his arm is going to be fine."
The way Elway sees it, Favre has the chance of a lifetime: to play in an offensive system he knows well, with Adrian Peterson at running back, and an outstanding defense.
"I think it's perfect," Elway said. "I think he'll be back. The big question is, even though he has played in 300 straight games [291 consecutive starts, including playoffs], is whether he can hang into there physically or not."
Montana understands that. He had surgery on his throwing elbow, and complications arose when doctors nicked a nerve when removing a staple from the area. That made the last two fingers on his throwing hand lose feeling, something that took him two years to overcome.
But bumps, bruises and surgeries are part of the game -- Elway, Montana and Favre know that well. What Favre needs, Montana said, is to be absolutely sure he wants to come back before he steps back onto the field.
"If you're not into it mentally, it's really tough to get there," Montana said. "You can't just walk in and, because you've played so many years, just do it. Especially at that position. You've got to be more mentally ready to play than anybody."
Vikings All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen recently told The Times that the on-again, off-again Favre saga was beginning to bother him.
"If we get Brett, then that's a bonus," Allen said. "But let's either get it done and get moving on with it, or let it go. It's not so much that it's a distraction, because we're all professionals and we don't really buy into that, but it's annoying, let's put it that way."
Although Montana has no affiliation with the Vikings, he could have guessed that.
"Right now, the guys just want the season to begin," Montana said. "They don't care who's there. They just want to get going."