If the opening day of the baseball season marks the start of the American spring, you know it is summer in America when Brett Favre starts talking about whether to play another year in the NFL. It has become an annual soap-opera for sports fans - will he or won't he? Will Favre, 39, one of the game's greatest quarterbacks and breaker of so many records, change his mind about his already announced retirement?
Asked this week on a television talk show in America whether he was going to play for the Minnesota Vikings next season, Favre launched the latest round of speculation with a "maybe". Last year when Favre announced, not for the first time, that he was calling it quits after his 16th year with the Green Bay Packers, many commentators thought he had made the right choice. But the Hall of Famer changed his mind and told Green Bay to wait a minute. He was too late, however, because they had Aaron Rodgers.
It was an unhappy ending to a long and successful relationship and Favre further disappointed Packers fans by heading off to the New York Jets. The verteran's sole season with the Jets ended in disappointment with fitness problems and a failure to make the play-offs. It was no surprise when he publically decided to call it quits again. This time, there was a real feeling that, given the deterioration in his throwing arm, Favre really was hanging up his boots for good.
But there were rumours of course, suggestions that after an operation on his arm he was ready to try and play again. There was a little more than a "maybe" in Favre's comments on HBO's Joe Buck Live show. He said: "I am rehabbing, doing what I need to get it into shape, I have talked with the Vikings, nothing other than are you interested and vice-versa. "I've had the procedure [operation] which they know, it's more or less about how my arm feels and then we will go from there."
Favre says the only team he has talked to are the Vikings. But it all depends on his fitness. "You can't go past the arm - if that is not up to par when the time comes then I can't play," he said. "I went through it last year and it affected me and the team. I won't do that again. That's why I did the surgery. If it ever gets to the point where it did before it started hurting then the biggest question mark is out of the way."
As to fears he may upset his former team the Packers with a move to their NFC North rivals, he added: "Time heals a lot of things. I have nothing but the highest regard for Green Bay, I mean that sincerely. The 16 years I spent there, you can't take away. I wouldn't change it for anything." * Reuters