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Brett Favre to stay retired

Minnesota Vikings Coach Brad Childress says quarterback doesn't want to put himself through the grind again

July 29, 2009|Sam Farmer

A novelty T-shirt gaining popularity among Green Bay Packers fans features a drawing of Brett Favre's face within an outline of Wisconsin and a tongue-in-cheek message: "We'll never forget you Brent."

Now, Minnesota can forget Favre too.

The Vikings' quest -- a pursuit of the three-time NFL most valuable player -- ground to a surprising halt Tuesday when Favre informed Coach Brad Childress that he won't be coming out of retirement to play for Minnesota.

The Vikings were looking for an answer from him before they open training camp Thursday in Mankato, Minn. Favre was seen by many as a crucial piece to a team that already has an outstanding defense and a Pro Bowl running back in Adrian Peterson, last season's rushing leader.

Childress broke the news to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and later told Vikings.com that the decision to try to sign Favre "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."

Favre, 39, coming off an up-and-down season with the New York Jets, was only considering Minnesota, where he would have been reunited with his close friend and former Packers assistant coach Darrell Bevell, now Minnesota's offensive coordinator.

But, in the end, Favre told Childress that he didn't want to put himself through the grind of another season. The quarterback later called the choice to stay retired "the hardest decision I've ever made."

"I didn't feel like physically I could play at a level that was acceptable," he told ESPN. "I would like to thank everyone, including the Packers, Jets and Vikings -- but, most importantly, the fans."

It's not as if Favre didn't give a comeback a serious chance. He underwent surgery in May to repair the torn biceps in his throwing arm, was working out with a high school team near his home in Hattiesburg, Miss., and reportedly looked good throwing earlier this month when Bevell came to town to watch him.

A league source familiar with the Favre situation said the quarterback badly wanted to play but was concerned about all that would entail.

"If it were just a matter of playing the games, I think he'd play," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss the situation publicly. "He just didn't want to deal with training camp, the practices, the circus."

The Vikings already have two players vying for the starting quarterback job: returning Tarvaris Jackson, and Sage Rosenfels, for whom they traded this off-season.

Childress said Favre's choice not to play "does not detract from the team that we have." It's unclear if Favre pulling out would spark any interest by Minnesota in Michael Vick, who was granted a conditional reinstatement by the league Monday.

In his comments to the team's website, however, Childress sounded happy about the players he has on the roster. "As we have consistently communicated, we feel good about our team and they have put forth a tremendous effort this off-season preparing for the season ahead. With this behind us, we look forward to getting to Mankato and getting training camp underway."

Vikings All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen recently told The Times that, even though Favre is a great player, the on-again, off-again status of negotiations was getting "annoying."

"Brett's great. I'm a fan of his," Allen said. "He's absolutely proven that he's one of the best ever at what he does.

"But our goals going into the off-season weren't, let's win a championship if we get Brett Favre. It's, we're going to win a championship. And I feel like we've got two able quarterbacks to get that done."

If the months-long flirtation with Favre was beginning to grate on the Vikings, just imagine how it went over in Green Bay. Favre achieved legendary status there but also upset many of his fans by coming out of retirement the first time, and then threatening to play for one of the Packers' most bitter rivals.

Some people saw that as a direct shot at Green Bay General Manager Ted Thompson, who was vindicated to a great degree last season when Aaron Rodgers, Favre's predecessor, played so well.

People around the NFL -- among them San Diego Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith -- have kept close watch on the soap opera.

"The only thing I've been thinking about throughout this whole situation," Smith said after learning Tuesday's news, "is how smart Ted Thompson looks."

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sam.farmer@latimes.com

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