Favre needs ankle surgery before he can return
EDEN PRAIRIE -- Brett Favre is still stinging from that painful loss to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC title game three months ago -- so much so that it's a factor in his decision to come back to the Vikings next season.
Favre issued a statement on his website Friday saying that his left ankle is still hurting and will require surgery if he wants to return for Minnesota. But he said the injury "is not debilitating" and he's come through far worse in a 19-year 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."
Currently holding all the NFL's major career passing records, 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 will be no different.
The Vikings have made it clear they won't pressure Favre into a decision on whether 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 is 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. He 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," he 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.
His waffling ultimately led to an ugly parting with the Packers that got him traded from Green Bay to the New York Jets in 2008. After a so-so season in New York, he announced his retirement in early 2009 for the second time, then reconsidered and signed with the Vikings.
He enjoyed one of the best seasons of his storied career, throwing for 33 touchdowns and only seven interceptions and guiding the Vikings to a 12-4 record. Favre twice beat the Packers, who should give two-time division champion Minnesota stiff competition for the title next season whether he 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 he 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 this season, but that's only if he plays. Several signs point to the Vikings believing he will return, including not pursuing a trade for Donovan McNabb and declining to select a quarterback of the future in the draft.
"I still don't know (what he's going to do)," Childress insisted on Friday. "That's my story and I'm sticking to it from way back when."