Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre held a press conference after practicing with his team today and he tried to explain that he came back for his teammates. After three of them (Jared Allen, Steve Hutchinson and Ryan Longwell) went down to Hattiesburg to get him, he said that it was their presence that finally helped him make his decision to return to Minnesota for a second season at quarterback.
“[The decision] was very close — I could make a case for playing and not playing,” Favre told a large assemblage of reporters. “I think, ultimately, a lot has been made about the three guys coming down. It was not them. It was the team.”
Favre said the mental toll a football season takes on a player was the hardest hurdle to get over in deciding to come back. He appeared to go through the agonizing of the decision-making process on the podium, and it made it easier to believe him when he said that he knows that this season will be his last.
“Twenty years and I’m done,” Favre said near the end of the news conference. “This is the last year of my contract. I’m sure a lot of people are like, ‘Yes,’ including my family. ‘We love watching him play but we can’t take the agony.’ It was obviously a tough decision to come back. I can’t say I’m going to do anything different than I did last year. Preparation, effort, leadership, commitment. I’d love to think that I’ll play better. I’m going to do everything I can to help this team win and see what happens.”
This spring and summer, Favre had maintained the health of his ankle would determine whether or not he plays, and he said that he met his surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, last Thursday and found out that the ankle is not 100 percent — as he felt his bicep was last season after surgery.
“I had a visit with Dr. Andrews and we took a new X-ray and, surprisingly, a new spur had already surfaced in the X-ray,” Favre said. “Not as big as what he had taken out but in that short amount of time it was really surprising because there is a little pain there. We thought it was more just scar tissue and things. Fact is, it’s just something I have to deal with.”
Favre discussed how the conversation with his teammates in Hattiesburg reminded him of how much they bonded last season and how great a time it was, and from there he deemed it was worth one more. But there are no guarantees:
“I’d love to win the Super Bowl, love to, but what happens if you don’t? That was the tough part [about the decision].”
Hutchinson told reporters after practice that the three Vikings carried a message from the locker room to Favre in Hattiesburg that they all want him here. Vikings fans, who had lined the street yesterday when he drove into Winter Park, offered that same message. Now Favre has made the decision that he wants to play here and he wants to win.
“I spoke to my teammates this morning; they know I am sincere and honest: Whatever it takes for us to win, the bottom line is winning. I am here to have fun and help these guys win. I really enjoy this group of guys like you wouldn’t believe, and I think the feeling is mutual,” Favre said.
No one could have said it better.