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Favre: Health, not money, will determine whether or not I play

Brett Favre hasn't decided on retirement. In fact, the health of his ankle -- not more money -- will determine if the 40-year-old quarterback returns to the Minnesota Vikings this season.

Favre briefly addressed reporters Wednesday after warming up with the Oak Grove High School football team in Hattiesburg, Miss. He said he didn't tell his Vikings teammates he's retiring and added that he would return "if I'm healthy, sure." However, a timetable for that decision is "up for discussion," he said.

Favre's words echoed those made earlier in the day by his agent. Bus Cook told NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci that any potential comeback hinges on Favre's health, not a healthier contract.

"As far as Brett is concerned, in spite of reports to the contrary, Brett's situation has nothing to do with his contract, but everything to do with his health and ability to contribute to that team and play at a level that he has been accustomed to playing over the years," Cook said in a statement to Mariucci. "Brett's ankle, which needed surgery since 2007, was surgically repaired this last spring by Dr. James Andrews. Until such time, Brett feels he can play at a level that he expects of himself, no decision will be made.

"Brett has an appointment to see Dr. Andrews next week and will know more at that time. Brett continues working every day, rehabbing his ankle and will see after his visit with Dr. Andrews what his status is at that time."

Favre also addressed a Minnesota newspaper report that the Vikings have offered him additional financial incentives to return, saying, "It's not about the money."

According to The Star Tribune, the Vikings' pitch to bring back Favre includes an offer that could pay him $20 million -- $16 million guaranteed, plus incentives potentially worth another $4 million. That's $7 million more than Favre was scheduled to make this season.

Cook told The Associated Press that there haven't been any negotiations on adjustments to Favre's deal, which he signed last year.

"If they want to reward him, nobody's going to walk away from that," Cook said. "But it's not a factor in his decision."

Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell also said it has been his understanding that if Favre's ankle heals well enough, he will return to the team. Favre injured his left ankle during last season's NFC Championship Game loss to the New Orleans Saints.

"I know it's a decision that he wrestles with," Bevell said of Favre, who had surgery on his ankle in May. "He's a great player. He's a great competitor. He mulls things over. He's an emotional guy. So he thinks things through long and hard and takes his time with his decision. So I'm not surprised that things started to come out. We just have to wait and see."

That's nothing new for the Vikings, who have answered questions about Favre's intentions the past two offseasons. An entire advertising campaign has been built around his indecision, and his teammates have become accustomed to hourly changes in his status.

"It's been about three years now I've been getting asked the Brett Favre questions," said Tarvaris Jackson, who likely would take over as the Vikings' starting quarterback if Favre doesn't return. "It's kind of part of my life now. I actually might miss it."

Favre has considered retiring every summer since 2002. The famous waffling helped prompt the Green Bay Packers to trade him 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 wound up signing with the Vikings.

Favre had one of his best seasons in 2009, with career bests in completion percentage (68.4), passer rating (107.2) and fewest interceptions (7), while throwing for 33 touchdowns and 4,202 yards to lead the Vikings (12-4) to an NFC North title. Most people around the NFL figured that Favre will come back for another run at what would be a third Super Bowl appearance.

"He is an emotional guy," Bevell said. "He does tell you how he's feeling. He is very honest. That's what I love about him and that's what a lot of people love about him. Sometimes it serves him well, sometimes it doesn't."

The confusion over Favre's status flooded Vikings training camp Tuesday, when tight end Visanthe Shiancoe revealed he heard the quarterback had started to contact teammates and team officials to say he will not return.

"He told a couple guys on our team he's going to retire," Shiancoe said after Tuesday night's practice. "He hasn't told me yet. I'm going to check my phone right now, but it hasn't been said publicly yet, so I don't know what to believe."

When asked Wednesday about Shiancoe's comment, Favre laughed and responded, "Shank, that's why I love him."

Shiancoe said Wednesday that he still hadn't directly heard from Favre and declined further comment.

Like the rest of the league, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he's taking a "wait and hear" approach to the latest twist in the Favre saga.

"Brett Favre is great for our game. And I think the passion he has for the game is extraordinary," Goodell said. "I think we all love to see him play, but we want him to do what's best for him at the end of the day."

Same goes for Drew Brees, whose Saints play the Vikings in the NFL season opener.

"Haven't we all seen it before?" Brees said, referring to Favre's two previous retirements. "I'm not going to believe it until he doesn't walk out of the tunnel on Sept. 9."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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