First off, I'm not buying it.
Brett Favre might seriously believe that today -- today -- he's done. But the sun will come out tomorrow ... and who knows what Favre might think then? His ankle might feel better. Training camp might be closer to ending. Tarvaris Jackson could suffer an injury. The Vikings might throw a few more million at Favre and get him a record deal.
There are so many variables between now and when things really get serious that it's hard to think Favre's decision to call it quits is for real. Vikings coach Brad Childress told the media Tuesday that Favre hasn't informed him of any decision. However, a team source told me that Favre, in some fashion, has informed the team that he is leaning toward retirement.
The one voice we haven't heard is Favre's. So either someone isn't coming clean or we're mired in just another (mis)information assault on Favre's future -- again. If Favre hasn't directly contacted Childress, then either this story has a long way to go or this could be another sign of a frayed relationship, which came to light at different points last season. But Favre and Childress seem to have been on the same page during this whole process, as Childress said he had spoken to Favre within the 24 hours prior to the Minneapolis Star Tribune first reporting the news of Favre's decision to retire.
I was with the Vikings when they opened training camp last week and not one person there doubted Favre would be back. Whether those were hunches or they had inside information, players, coaches, and members of the media all figured Favre would hang out in Mississippi until training camp was over and then join the team when he didn't have to work so hard at practice.
Nobody had a problem with that.
Sure, players and coaches couched their remarks with, "We don't know for sure," but they were as confident of Favre's return as a guy knowing the girl he's dated for five years would say "yes" when he finally proposed.
If Favre leaves them hanging at the altar, No. 4 might want to give LeBron James a shout to get his take on crushing a city's dreams and turning all goodwill to poison. If you thought Vikings fans hated him when he played for Green Bay, they'll hate him even more for making them fall deeply in love only to tell them it's not personal why he's leaving, but he's just got some things to figure out.
I wouldn't blame Favre at all if he wanted to retire. He's given 19 years of himself and dazzled us most of the way. If his ankle doesn't feel well or if he's simply not ready, then good for him for going out on his own terms. He's about to turn 41 and was blessed to have played as long as he has.
He's giving the Vikings ample time to adjust and, as we will certainly hear from him, he never guaranteed them he'd be back to collect the $13 million he's owed in the final year of his contract.
At the same time, he's taken the Vikings to the water and might now leave them parched. They're a Super Bowl contender with him. Without him and with Jackson, they're the Eagles or 49ers or Dolphins or Cardinals: Talent-rich teams punctuated by questions at quarterback.
If Childress wants to truly earn his team's respect, he'll tell Favre that the team can't take any more waffling. As much as it would pain Childress and the organization to not keep the door open, it would be unfair to Vikings players -- especially to Jackson and Sage Rosenfels -- to continue to let Favre be the tail wagging the dog.
They've done everything for Favre and he gave them a glorious 2009 in return. But allowing him to continue to bend the rules and emotions like a Salvador Dali painting could become a troublesome distraction. If he's one of them, then be one of them.
If he's not, then keep it moving.
At least Packers Nation had management to blame when it got tired of Favre's indecision and traded him to the New York Jets. Plus, Favre will always be a Packer. Some fans turned on him when he became a free agent a year later and went to play for Minnesota and swept Green Bay when he got there, but that was different than this.
In Minnesota, he was the ringer who could finally get them the title Fran Tarkenton couldn't.
For that, I seriously doubt the Vikings will close any door. They know they're better with him and they know that he only needs a few weeks to be ready. Plus, empty seats in a stadium they want torn down and a new one built in its place wouldn't give ownership much leverage in brokering a deal.
If anything, Favre has just taken over the NFL again. He provides great theatre on and off the field. It's just difficult to believe he won't walk through the closed curtain again or that the Vikings won't be in the front row giving him a standing ovation.