Brett Favre threw a curveball into his annual ritual of waffling over retirement, saying he could be around a lot longer.
The legendary Vikings quarterback, who had one of the best seasons of his storied career last season, hasn't said whether he'll be back in the fall. But a remark to USA Today left open the possibility he plans to play almost until Social Security can offset some of his lost income.
"Hell, you gotta quit sometime," Favre said. "Then again, maybe I will be doing this when I'm 50 years old, who knows?"
The longtime Green Bay Packer signal caller said at the end of a long season, his 40-year-old body wants to quit. But after hanging out on his Mississippi compound, the itch sets in. When he continues to deliberate, fans generally suspect he's just trying to get out of a grueling, and for him unnecessary, training camp.
"That's the strange thing," Favre said of the yearly watch. "Even I don't know. Every year, I think the decision either will be made for me, making it easier, or I will know. I'm just trying to do that right thing. If it were about money, I would have said 'Yes,' the next day," to his $13 million deal for 2010.
He said he was sure he was finished after the Vikings lost to eventual Super Bowl champion New Orleans, 31-28, in overtime. A win would have put Minnesota in the Super Bowl, but Favre took a beating and threw a costly interception in the game. He was ready to call it quits immediately following the game, but changed his mind and held off on the flight home. He just couldn't do it, after a stream of teammates and coaches thanked him for his valiant effort.
"I mean, there were tears flyin'," Favre said. "By the time we landed, I am like, 'I don't think I can let these guys down.' I know football is a business, but more than anything I felt like there was unfinished business. All of a sudden, 'Oh, man, as much as I don't want to go through that again, I almost feel as if I owe these guys something.'
In the offseason, Favre had an injured ankle operated on. His arm is as strong as ever, and the Vikings have the talent to make another championship charge. He threw for 33 touchdown passes and 4,202 yards in his 19th pro season.
If he wants to come back, the Vikings will be lucky to have him.