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Multitude of issues likely to delay Favre's decision on possible return

The longer it goes for Brett Favre, the harder it gets.

To make a firm decision.

Oh, he has decided to play and then not to play for the Minnesota Vikings a thousand times. But it is the either/or, the actual do or don't that is becoming a swirl of torment all its own.

Even those closest to Favre are becoming frustrated. You can count the Vikings in on that, too.

On Monday, Favre appeared in a frame of mind that indicated he would make his decision by Friday. By Thursday, that had become a maybe -- but likely more time would be needed.

How much better is Favre going to feel about it in two, three or four days, the Vikings wonder? Are you kidding, they ask? It isn't like this issue is two, three or four weeks from requiring an answer. Vikings players begin reporting to training camp Wednesday. Vikings camp opens Thursday. They know that with Favre a Monday answer could spill into a Tuesday one that turns into a Wednesday one. They do not like a scenario where he would decide late and fail to report with the rest of the team.

And the Vikings are not thrilled that an ESPN report said the team's players have repeatedly texted Favre, asking him to play. If true, that hurts the organization, they insist. What if he decides no, and those players must turn to quarterbacks they have "publicly thrown under the bus in that way," a Vikings source said. The thinking is that management can do the Favre dance, but current players should not and cannot do such dallying that becomes public. If it happened, did those players reveal it? Did Favre? Either way, not good, both the Vikings and sources close to Favre say.

Favre sources and those within the Vikings say a contract is not in place. They remind all that Favre has yet to be reinstated by the league. Even so, you would have to believe some sort of contract parameters are understood. The Vikings earlier this week told me Favre would earn "north of $10 million."

Here's a twist: Favre is still recovering from the hits he took in New York. The mental ones. He joined the Jets, sped out to an 8-3 record, won at previously undefeated Tennessee and was atop the league in some passing charts. Then came the 1-4 finish and falling out of the playoffs. And despite Favre playing that stretch with an injured throwing arm, he absorbed brutal criticism and blows. It was all his fault, he heard. Some of it stuck with him. To him.

Is pro football's most noted gunslinger becoming gun-shy?

Is he thinking, "What if we don't win in Minnesota?"

It is a part of his decision-making, more than we knew, as is the distasteful idea of uprooting and moving his family, once again, from Mississippi.

He has completed surgery, worked hard to get his arm in shape, courted the Vikings, they have courted him and now here both are on a cliff. Leap? I think Favre believes he owes the Vikings something. I think he is juxtaposing that with what he owes his Packers fans. And a million thoughts and what-ifs for him in between.

Really, he owes only himself. And only this -- make his decision and live with it.

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