Will he or won't he? Only Brett Favre knows

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:01 AM ET

Skeptics 1, Brett Favre 0.

Once again reports of his death as an NFL quarterback have been greatly exaggerated. This time it took less than a day for Favre to refute speculation — much of it fueled by Favre himself — that he would retire.

At least have the courtesy to act surprised.

Word leaked Tuesday that Favre had told friends and teammates that after 19 seasons he would not return to the Vikings this season. But Vikings coach Brad Childress said he hadn’t heard from Favre, who is recovering from ankle surgery, and yesterday Favre showed up at a local high school practice field near his Hattiesburg, Miss., home to work out.

Doesn’t sound like a guy who’s packing it in. He also told ESPN that he will play for the Vikings this season as long as he’s healthy. True, his ankle hasn’t healed enough to allow him to play but then the Vikings hadn’t expected him to report for another four weeks anyway.

So, it’s not like he doesn’t have time.

Favre denied sending text messages yesterday telling Vikings’ personnel that he was retiring.

But several players say they received such messages, which may be some indication that Favre is merely avoiding training camp, or putting the squeeze on management for more money.

The Vikings would be willing to give him a bonus above the $13 million US he is getting. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that the Vikings have offered a $3-million raise to Favre, along with incentives that would push the total even higher.

It’s also not likely his team-mates would care. With him they have a chance to get to another Super Bowl; without him they’re in a dogfight to make the playoffs as a wild card behind Green Bay.

If he doesn’t show up, this is a vastly different team. Travaris Jackson has received all of the first-team reps in camp so far, with Sage Rosenfels and rookie Joe Webb as the backups. Webb, according to media reports, has looked “lost” and Rosenfels has been interception-prone in practice.

How bad could it get?

Jeff George told a Minnesota radio station he’d be willing to take over if Favre leaves. He led the Vikings to the playoffs in 1999 but hasn’t played since 2004.

In 2007, George tried to get the Vikings’ attention, and Childress advised him to “maybe go to a fantasy camp or something.”

Besides, who ever heard of a 42-year-old quarterback in the NFL? Ridiculous. Can’t happen. And, then you remember: In two months, Brett Favre is 41.

And he’s holding the whole league hostage. So, now who’s being ridiculous?

Backward economics

So, if St. Louis Rams No. 1 overall pick, Sam Bradford, is worth a guaranteed $50 million without ever stepping onto an NFL field, where does that leave Tom Brady?

Wednesday former Colts coach Tony Dungy noted that Peyton Manning’s contract with the Colts expires after this season, and Manning surely deserves more guaranteed money than Bradford. Dungy thinks Manning and Patriots quarterback Brady deserve $20 million or $30 million more guaranteed than Bradford.

“Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have to make 70 or 80 ­— I mean, they have to,” Dungy said.

No wonder NFL owners want a rookie salary cap. It doesn’t make sense when the guys coming into a league are making more than the guys who have been responsible for making the game such a profitable profession.

Brawn & brains

Defensive rookie tackle Ndamukong Suh joined the Detroit Lions for workouts yesterday after the No. 2 overall draft pick signed a five-year, $60 million ($40 million guaranteed) contract.

Detroit, with a 2-30 record and the leakiest defence in NFL history the past two years, needs Suh desperately.

The 6-foot-4 Suh was a Heisman finalist, won the Nagurski and Bednarik awards as national defensive player of the year last season and won the Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy honoring college football’s top linemen.

As good a football player as Suh is, he might be a better scholar. His mother Bernadette, a schoolteacher from Jamaica, refused to let him play football unless he posted a 3.0 grade-point average. Suh graduated from Nebraska with a degree from the College of Engineering, to which he has made a $2-million pledge toward endowing a scholarship.

Lookin’ good

The Dolphins were looking for Chad Pennington to start the season as the No. 3 quarterback and slowly work his way back to form. Now, he could end up being No. 1.

Pennington is already taking snaps with the No. 2 offence and has looked very good coming back from a serious shoulder injury some thought might end his career.

Quick hits

Plaxico Burress is being released from prison within three weeks but don’t expect to see him in the NFL this year. He still has to compete a work program and then faces potential league sanctions ... Right guard Chilo Rachal col lapsed Tuesday at the 49ers camp suffering from heat dehydration ... The Lions have released safety Marquand Manuel, replacing him with C.C. Brown ... Only two of the NFL’s first-round draft picks remain unsigned: tackle Russell Okung (Seattle) and running back C.J. Spiller (Buffalo) ... Gary Johnson, a four-time Pro Bowl lineman who played for the Chargers from 1975 through 1984 and the 49ers in 1984 and 1985, has died following a stroke at age 57 ... The Jaguars lost defensive tackle D’Anthony Smith, the Dolphins lost Kory Sheets, and the Chargers lost linebacker Don Butler, all with torn Achilles tendons.


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