x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Confusion still reigns over Favre's future

Team to offer him $3 million more to play but the quarterback veteran says 'it's not about the money' as he keeps the Vikings guessing.

Brett Favre worked out with high school players yesterday amid speculation about his future.
Brett Favre worked out with high school players yesterday amid speculation about his future.

MANKATO, MINNESOTA // With everyone assuming Brett Favre was returning for a 20th NFL season, the Minnesota Vikings were enjoying a relatively calm and quiet training camp as they started preparations for a run at the Super Bowl. All that tranquillity, and certainty, is out the window now, as the latest instalment of the "will he or won't he?" saga seemed to reach new levels of preposterousness.

On Tuesday, Favre reportedly told some teammates and Vikings officials that his surgically repaired left ankle is not healing the way he would like it to and that he would not return to Minnesota this season. But yesterday, he did not confirm any decision, after helping a high school team in Mississippi train, and denied he was using the threat of retirement as leverage for a salary rise, saying, "it's not about the money".

He also told reporters that he has been in touch with the Vikings and that "they know what's going on with me", which may come as news to the club. The Vikings will offer Favre an additional US$3 million (Dh11m) to play this season, according to ESPN.com, taking his salary for a 2010 season to a guaranteed $16m. Back in Minnesota, the Vikings do not seem to know what to think. "He told a couple guys on our team he's going to retire," tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said. "He hasn't told me yet. I'm going to check my phone right now, but it hasn't been said publicly yet so I don't know what to believe."

However, Favre denied sending text messages to his teammates, according to ESPN.com, and his agent, Bus Cook, said Favre would play if his health permitted. Even with Favre's history of flip-flopping, the rumours that he might quit came as a surprise to most surrounding the Vikings. They reported to training camp last week confident that after they wrapped up training in Mankato next week that Favre would join them in Minnesota, as he did last season.

Brad Childress, the coach, described Favre's status as "fluid". Childress has shown patience with Favre, saying he would not set a deadline for a decision and allowing him to skip training camp for a second straight year. With Favre, of course, there is always the chance of reversals of decisions, and his coming back to play again is what the Vikings are hoping for. Last year, he told the Vikings he would not play, but Childress eventually picked him up at the airport, and Favre's 19th season was one of his best: he led Minnesota within one victory of the Super Bowl.

"I love Brett and he reserves the right to do what he wants to do," Jared Allen, the defensive end said. "We obviously love him as a teammate. We'd like to have him back. But until it's official, I'll believe it when I see it." Adrian Peterson, the running back, said his gut feeling was that Favre would be handing him the ball at New Orleans on September 9, the first game of the season. Favre, 40, has considered retiring every summer since 2002. It led to an ugly parting with the Packers that got him traded from Green Bay to the Jets in 2008. After a so-so season in New York, he announced his retirement in early 2009 for the second time, only to sign with the Vikings.

He had one of his best seasons, with career bests in completion percentage (68.4), quarterback rating (107.2) and fewest interceptions (seven), while throwing for 33 touchdowns and 4,202 yards to lead the Vikings to an NFC North title. He hurt his left ankle in the NFC championship loss to the Saints and had arthroscopic surgery in May. With the unproven Tarvaris Jackson in line to start at quarterback if Favre does retire, the Vikings know they need him back.

"It definitely will be a blow to the team [if he retires]," Shiancoe said. "Be real. It will be a setback to the team." * AP