Brett Favre rejoins Vikings, is set to play another season
UPDATED (8:58 p.m.)...
Quarterback Brett Favre rejoined the Minnesota Vikings on Tuesday after telling teammates that he intends to play a second season for the team. It will be Favre's 20th season in the NFL, and his third season since he first announced his retirement from the sport in a tearful, nationally televised news conference.
Favre arrived at the Vikings' training complex with three of his teammates--kicker Ryan Longwell, defensive end Jared Allen and guard Steve Hutchinson--who had visited him at his home in Mississippi late Monday and Tuesday. The group returned to the Twin Cities area in a private plane and reportedly was greeted by fans at the airport.
Favre rode from the airport to the Vikings' complex in a vehicle driven by Longwell and reportedly followed by helicopters from local television stations.
Hutchinson said in an interview with the league-owned NFL Network that Favre told the Vikings players who visited him: "Okay, let's do it."
Hutchinson told the league's TV channel that "nobody can push Brett into anything. I think it was just the first time that some of his teammates came down to visit him and it sort of reiterated to him what he felt about playing with all the guys, and he just figured after going through it one more time, 'Let's do it.' "
Vikings officials asked the three players to visit Favre and get an answer from him about whether the quarterback would play this season, according to Hutchinson.
"We told him how much all the guys loved playing with him and that we would love to do it again," Hutchinson said in his NFL Network interview, according to an account of it on the league's Web site. "We also told him that if he didn't want to do it, then congratulations, you deserve it. You've had an incredible career, but we've got to know one way or another."
There was no official confirmation from Favre or the Vikings that he will play another season. But the Vikings apparently planned to announce Favre's return Wednesday.
Favre has become well known for his frequent reversals on the issue in recent years. This would be the third straight offseason in which Favre came close to retiring, only to change his mind and continue playing.
He announced his retirement the previous two offseasons but later reversed those decisions. He never made a formal retirement announcement this time but appeared on the verge of retiring two weeks ago.
Favre's latest decision to return came one day shy of exactly one year after he reported to the Vikings for the first time, being driven to the team's facility that time by Coach Brad Childress.
The Vikings have played one preseason game and completed their training camp in Mankato, Minn. They're practicing at their facility in the Twin Cities and are readying for the NFL's season-opening game at New Orleans on Sept. 9.
They play a preseason game at San Francisco on Sunday night. The game is to be televised nationally by NBC.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune first reported that Allen, Hutchinson and Longwell were absent from the Vikings' practice Tuesday and were in Hattiesburg, Miss., to visit Favre.
Favre underwent offseason ankle surgery after leading the Vikings to last season's NFC title game and finishing fourth in the NFL most valuable player voting.
Favre reportedly had been concerned that his ankle had not responded as he'd hoped it would. He was to be examined last week by orthopedist James Andrews.
Earlier this month, a source confirmed multiple reports that Favre had informed some members of the Vikings organization that he planned to retire. But Favre told reporters the following day in Mississippi that he hadn't made a decision and would play this season if healthy enough to do so. Favre denied informing members of the organization that he would retire.
There were subsequent reports that the messages indeed had been sent by Favre, but members of the organization quickly had convinced Favre to reconsider by telling him how badly the team wanted him to play another season. The Vikings reportedly also offered Favre a raise to play this season, although Favre said his decision wasn't about money.
When the news emerged two weeks ago of Favre's latest flirtation with retirement, people around the league reacted with skepticism. Washington Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan, a former Super Bowl opponent, and Philadelphia Eagles Coach Andy Reid, a former quarterbacks coach for the Green Bay Packers who worked with Favre, were among those who said they weren't ready to believe at that point that Favre would retire.
Favre, who turns 41 in October and is a grandfather, is entering the second season of a two-year, $25 million contract with the Vikings. He is to have a salary of $13 million this season under the terms of that deal. The Vikings reportedly offered him a chance to make as much as $16 million in guaranteed money, plus an additional $4 million in possible incentives, if he agreed to return.
The three-time league MVP announced his retirement from the Packers after the 2007 season. He changed his mind and opted to keep playing, but the Packers had decided to move on with Aaron Rodgers as their quarterback and traded Favre to the New York Jets. Favre played the 2008 season for the Jets, then announced his retirement after that season in a conference call with reporters. He reversed course again, and signed with the Vikings last summer.
Favre had expected to be a complementary player on an offense built around tailback Adrian Peterson. Instead, he had one of his most productive seasons and was the Vikings' offensive centerpiece. The Vikings reached the NFC championship game but lost in overtime in New Orleans, with Favre throwing a costly interception late in regulation.
He stayed in that game despite suffering an ankle injury.
Favre underwent ankle surgery in May in Florida
He threw for 4,202 yards and 33 touchdowns for the Vikings last season, with only seven interceptions.
He has passed for 69,329 yards and 497 touchdowns, with 317 interceptions, in 19 NFL seasons for the Atlanta Falcons, Packers, Jets and Vikings. He has been selected to 11 Pro Bowls and is the league's career leader in passing attempts, completions, passing yards, touchdown passes, interceptions and wins by a starting quarterback. Favre has started a record 285 consecutive regular season games (and 309 straight games including the playoffs).
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