As reports that Brett Favre will retire for a third time dominated the NFL, Steve Mariucci stepped forward with a message Tuesday: Everybody just needs to calm down.
Mariucci, who coached Favre in Green Bay, said Tuesday that his former pupil isn't ready to call it quits and is trying to wait out a troublesome ankle that needed offseason surgery.
"So the question mark is, how fast can he be healthy?" Mariucci said on NFL Network's NFL Total Access. "He's trying. He's trying like crazy. He was working out in his yard today, he told me.
"He's aware of this media frenzy right now. He's not quite sure where it all came from. I mean, he spoke to some people. ... He may have mentioned to somebody that he's leaning that way, because his ankle is not perfect. But right now, he hasn't retired. He's still trying to get healthy. He doesn't know if he's going to be able to be healthy in time. That's the question mark right now."
Mariucci said Tuesday night that he doesn't believe even Favre knows what he will do. Mariucci also said that Favre's ankle is improving, but "it's not where it needs to be yet."
"Right now, he told me, 'I'm trying to get my body healthy,' said Mariucci, who added that the quarterback has another week or so to see if his ankle is ready. "The Vikings haven't given him a timetable to be in camp at Mankato State -- they don't want him in the camp right now. They would prefer that he waited and stayed home to heal up even more and do what he did last year and show up at Eden Prairie, if he can."
However, the Biloxi Sun Herald, citing a family source, backed Mariucci's assertion in reporting that Favre hasn't made a decision.
The confusion over Favre's status flooded Vikings training camp, where tight end Visanthe Shiancoe revealed he heard the quarterback had started to contact teammates and team officials to say he will not return for a 20th NFL season.
"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."
"I'm not a big hearsay person," Childress said. "I gotta hear it from the horse's mouth."
Vikings owner Zygi Wilf declined to comment. Favre and his agent, Bus Cook, didn't return messages from The AP.
Fair enough. With Favre, nothing ever seems final. He told the Vikings last year that he wouldn't play, but he changed his mind and joined them immediately after they broke training camp. Childress even drove to the airport to pick up Favre for his 19th NFL season.
Camp this year ends on Aug. 12, and Favre can expect some calls from teammates urging him to return.
"I'm going to try to get him here every chance I get," Shiancoe said. "I'm going to try to send him texts or something."
Favre retirement timeline
March 4, 2008 -- Packers announce Favre's retirement
July 11, 2008 -- Favre requests release from Packers
Feb. 11, 2009 -- Favre announces retirement for second time
Aug. 18, 2009 -- Favre signs two-year, $25 million contract with Vikings
May 21, 2010 -- Favre has surgery on his left ankle
Aug. 3, 2010 -- Favre informs Vikings he will not return
"I'm still up in the air like you guys trying to figure out what's going to happen," Peterson said. "I'm sure he'll make the best decision for him."
This uncertainty is nothing new for the Vikings, who have spent the last two offseasons answering questions about Favre's future.
"It's always back and forth with Brett," said quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, who's in line to be the starter if Favre is gone. "It's his decision. He deserves the opportunity to decide when he's going to retire or not, whether he wants to retire or not. It's up to him. Right now, I'm just trying to focus on getting better."
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 TDs and 4,202 yards to lead the Vikings to an NFC North title. He hurt his left ankle during an NFC Championship Game loss to the Saints and had arthroscopic surgery in May.
Favre is under contract for $13 million this season, but only if he plays.
Nearly everyone has assumed that Favre will return, and he has done nothing to discourage that. He threw passes to high school students in Hattiesburg, Miss., for the second consecutive summer, joked about playing until he's 50 and said another season wouldn't worsen his already damaged ankle.
"It's like believing in Santa Claus. You get gifts, but you ain't seen Santa Claus," Barnett said. "We'll see what happens ... If he does retire, congratulations. It's a well-deserved retirement. But if he does come back, we'll be gunning for him the same way."
Indeed, Favre holds most major NFL records for a quarterback, including career touchdowns (497), passing yards (69,329), wins (181) and seasons with at least 3,000 passing yards (18).
Of course, he also has thrown the most interceptions (317) and been sacked 503 times -- a long, long history of wear and tear.
Retirement also would mean that the last pass of Favre's career was an interception. Saints cornerback Tracy Porter picked off a forced throw from Favre with the Vikings in New Orleans territory at the end of regulation, preventing an attempt at a potential game-winning field goal. Favre watched helplessly from the sideline as Drew Brees drove the Saints for the winning field goal in overtime.
"I know when I leave the game, I'm going to miss it," Favre told The AP in 2007, when the annual summer rite of indecision was still novel. "I know that. I'm not going to sit here and say, when I leave, it's over and I felt like I've done everything there is to do."
"If it is (true), then we were lucky enough to watch an unbelievable talent and great guy," Romo said. "But it's better to go the year before than a year too late."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.