Brett Favre is still stinging from that painful NFC Championship Game loss to the New Orleans Saints three months ago -- so much so that it's a factor in his decision to play again or retire.
Favre issued a statement on his Web site Friday, saying his left ankle is still hurting and will require surgery if he wants to return to the Minnesota Vikings next season. But he said the injury "is not debilitating" and he has come through far worse during a 19-year NFL career built on playing through pain.
"I don't believe major surgery on the ankle would be required for me to return in 2010," Favre wrote. "I've consulted with Dr. (James) Andrews on the phone, and a relatively minor procedure could be done to improve the dexterity of the ankle, and to relieve the pain. I've put up with pain worse than this in my career, and I didn't want anyone to assume that the possibility of surgery was the sole factor that would determine whether I return or not."
"He said, 'The only issue that I have right now is my ankle that I hurt in the last game is still a little swollen,'" Mariucci said Friday. "I said, 'Does it hurt? What does it feel like?' He said, 'Well, I haven't run on it, I haven't been cutting.' Walking around doesn't hurt him at all, but it's swollen, which is a little surprising in that it's been a couple months since the game. He said, 'Well, it's the same ankle that I've had surgery on a couple times already.' So he was wanting to see how it progressed, if the swelling came down, if he could run and cut without any pain."
Currently holding every major career passing record in the NFL, Favre will turn 41 in October. He has turned the waiting game into an art form late in his career, and it appears this summer won't be any different.
The Vikings have made it clear that they won't pressure Favre into a decision on whether or not he will return for a 20th NFL season.
"The ankle pain is a factor, but one of many factors that I'll need to consider in making my decision," said Favre, who's believed to be at his home in Mississippi. "Other factors include the input of my family, and the wonderful experience that I had last year with the Vikings."
Vikings coach Brad Childress said he was neither surprised nor concerned by the revelation that Favre needs another surgery. Childress reiterated that he would be fine with Favre missing the first two weeks of training camp like he did last year.
"We were aware of it and in fact spoke about it at the end of the season, and it's just a matter of whether he was going to or not going to address," Childress said. "We all are familiar with his aversion to surgery. That's no surprise. So it's just something if you want to live with it and whether you want to live with it the whole lifetime or want to fix it now, fix it again later."
Earlier in the day, Favre told ESPN in an e-mail that the ankle is still swollen and painful and that surgery was unavoidable if he wanted to keep playing.
"This decision would be easy if not for my teammates and the fans and the entire Vikings staff," Favre said in the e-mail posted on ESPN.com. "One year truly felt like 10 -- much like Green Bay for many years. That's what I was missing in my heart I suppose, a sense of belonging."
Favre then issued his statement, seeming to downplay the severity of his injury by saying he feels good enough to work on his property in Mississippi.
"Sure, certain exercises cause some ankle pain, but it's nothing that I haven't experienced (or played with) before," Favre wrote. "In fact, many people don't realize that I injured my ankle before the NFC Championship game. I've had surgery on this ankle twice before, and I've played with the pain before. The hits I took throughout the 2009 season, including the Saints game, just added to the ankle pain and likely caused some bone spurs."
If this all sounds a little familiar, that's because it's the fourth installment of a drama miniseries that has run every summer since 2006.
Favre's waffling ultimately led to an ugly parting with Packers, who traded the quarterback to the New York Jets in 2008. After a so-so season in New York, Favre announced his retirement in early 2009 for the second time, then reconsidered and signed with the Vikings.
Favre enjoyed one of the best seasons of his storied career, throwing 33 touchdown passes and just seven interceptions and guiding the Vikings to a 12-4 record. Favre twice beat Green Bay, which should give two-time NFC North champion Minnesota stiff competition for the title next season whether the quarterback returns or not.
"Somebody tell Brett to have that surgery so I can make up for last year!!!" Packers linebacker Nick Barnett posted on Twitter.
Now Favre and the Vikings are back in the same place as last year.
The quandary then was whether or not Favre wanted to have surgery to repair a partially torn biceps tendon in his right shoulder. Andrews performed that surgery, and Favre made it through the entire 2009 season without any problems with his arm or shoulder.
Favre is under contract for $13 million next season, but that's only if he plays. Several signs point to the Vikings believing Favre will return, including not pursuing a trade for Donovan McNabb and declining to select a quarterback of the future in the draft.
"I know for sure he really likes that team," Mariucci said of Favre. "When he talks about his teammates and those coaches there, I can tell in his voice that he's sincere in just enjoying being around them. You know, it was like it used to be at times in Green Bay. So I could sense that he really felt good about that team, on and off the field. ...
"If it was just a normal situation, he probably would call it a day," Mariucci added. "But he had such a great experience there. To be quite honest, they're continually recruiting him. The fans are recruiting him with letters and e-mails and billboards, you name it. His players call him regularly. ... They talk to him on occasion and say, 'Let's do this, man. Let's do this.' They have a great rapport. So he's being tempted and recruited to go back there, and that's the pull."
Childress wouldn't indicate whether or not he believes Favre will return to Minnesota.
"I still don't know," Childress insisted. "That's my story, and I'm sticking to it from way back when."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.