National Football League legend Brett Favre, 40, has decided to play for a 20th season following off-season ankle surgery. The Future Hall of Fame quarterback returned for a second season with the Minnesota Vikings to take a final shot at helping the team return to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1977.
They were three men on a mission: Vikings venturing into unknown territory seeking a rare and precious treasure: National Football League star quarterback Brett Favre.
Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress Monday sent three of the quarterback's closest friends to visit him at his home in Hattiesburg, Mississippi to learn if the 19-year veteran was going to play this season. Three weeks of pre-season training camp already had passed without Favre's decision on whether he would complete his two-year, $25 million contract.
Childress explains his reasoning for dispatching Steve Hutchinson, Jared Allen and Ryan Longwell to Mississippi.
"You know, we wanted him back," said Childress. "It wasn't me wanting him back. It was 'We' wanting him back. You know, I talked to all those guys all along who had been texting and talking, and I believe that, just as my conversations went with him, probably the best thing was for those guys to see him face-to-face. But he's got a good football team around him, and he won't have to do it all himself."
Favre's answer was, "yes." The next day he and the three envoys returned to Minnesota where, for a second year in a row, Favre's dramatic arrival was greeted with a blitz of media coverage.
Last season, Favre did not decide to join the Vikings until after training camp was over, yet he managed to lead Minnesota into the playoffs as a strong Super Bowl contender. The Vikings made it all the way to the semifinals, but a costly intercepted pass thrown by Favre near the end of regulation erased a potential winning field goal opportunity and Minnesota lost in overtime to the New Orleans Saints, the eventual Super Bowl champions.
Despite his blunder in the National Football Conference title game against the Saints, Favre's first season with the Vikings was one of the best of his career. The future Hall of Fame quarterback says even he was surprised at his performance.
"Never in my wildest dreams when we sat here last year would I have thought I would have played the way I did," he said. "I mean, look at 18 years previous, I never played that good."
Favre last season threw for 4,202 yards and 33 touchdowns, with only seven interceptions to lead the Vikings to a regular season record of 12 wins and four losses. Some said he was playing at a higher level than when he won the Super Bowl in 1996 with the Green Bay Packers.
Favre, who will be 41 years old in October and is a grandfather, is optimistic about himself and the Vikings new season.
"Even though my expectations are to find that magic again, I know it's hard," he added. "That's why it's football. Not everyone can do it."
On his feelings about coming back to the Vikings, he added,
"Even though I don't owe them something, it's like I led them, led them, led them, and then ...maybe I should try to give it one more try. No guarantees. But I don't want to fail. I don't want to fail," said Farve.
Favre says he told his fellow players he is going to do everything he can to help the team.
"The bottom line is winning. I'm not here to set any records. You know, people [say], 'You can do this. You can do this ...,' but I say, 'I've done it all,'" he added.
Brett Favre holds every major offensive passing record in the NFL. He has career records for yards passing (69,329), touchdowns (497) and interceptions (317). Even more phenomenally, he has started 309 consecutive games, 285 in the regular season and 24 in the playoffs. That is the most of any NFL player at any position in league history.
But the great quarterback's career achievements have been somewhat overshadowed since he announced his retirement in 2008 following 16 years with the Green Bay Packers, only to change his mind and play with the New York Jets.
He repeated the same scenario in 2009, only he left the Jets to play in Minnesota, where he had an inspired season. Both times, the retirement-comeback story drew overwhelming media attention. Speculation continued this off-season, fueled by reports that Favre was not satisfied with how well his injured ankle was healing from surgery in May.
On Wednesday, he ran without any signs of discomfort during his first practice with the Vikings.
At a news conference later that day, Favre insisted he is serious about retiring at the end of this season.
"I can promise you this - not that I had ever set out as a goal to play 20 years - 20 years, and I'm done," he noted. "This is the last year of my contract. I'm sure a lot of people are like, 'Yes!'"
The comment drew chuckles from the media. Perhaps it is because they believe Brett Favre's tremendous passion for the game and his will to compete might win over his latest plan to leave behind the thrill of gridiron glory for the unlined green fields of Mississippi.