Retirement a little Favre-fetched

Brett Favre, who has one year left on his contract with the Vikings, may retire for good....

Brett Favre, who has one year left on his contract with the Vikings, may retire for good. (REUTERS/Tom Olmscheid)

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:18 AM ET

The problem with Brett Favre telling folks he’s retiring is that the story resonates like the kid who cried wolf.

Nobody believes him.

It doesn’t matter what he says at this stage of the season because history suggests it doesn’t mean anything.

Newspaper reports out of Minneapolis, and another on the Fox network, indicated yesterday that Favre was communicating to club officials and friends that he would not return to the Vikings for a second season.

The only thing missing with this announcement is the laugh track.

Packers’ linebacker Nick Barnett says a Favre retirement story is “like believing in Santa Claus. You get gifts but you ain’t seen Santa Claus. We’ll see what happens.”

It may be true that Favre has communicated suggestions he’ll retire. Favre may even believe himself that he will retire, although there is every reason to doubt that. It’s more likely he’s retired from training camps and that he shows up when the sweating is for real and the games mean something.

When told of the reports, Bears’ linebacker, Brian Urlacher deadpanned, “retired from training camp?”

The story of his departure is also premature in that the Vikings didn’t expect him in camp for another month anyway.

There is every reason to believe that when opening day arrives, so will Favre. He has already done it twice. Reports indicate that Favre’s surgically-repaired ankle isn’t responding as quickly or as well as he’d like to rehabilitation.

But we’ve seen this act before, too. Last year he was supposed to have such a bad shoulder that a lesser god wouldn’t even have attempted to dress. But more money (and reports indicate the Vikings would pad his $13 million deal) or skipping practice aside, Favre just loves the dramatic.

The entertainer

This smacks of more theatre. Favre is one of the greatest entertainers the league has known. He even loses with flair. People will debate for years the desperate pass that cost his club the NFC championship. Favre is the ultimate riverboat gambler. Sometimes that pays off and it has made him legend. Sometimes it just ends in tears.

Either way he does football with elan. And, that’s how he has run his life, too. He enjoys the spotlight and this is going to have to be one seriously sore leg before he will allow himself to walk away. If it is bothering him maybe he doesn’t know if he’ll be back, which explains why nobody else knows what will happen either.

In any case, Favre is like Doug Gilmour. He won’t be able to quit unless he hasn’t got a leg to stand on. He’s like Roger Clemens, who measures his success not by what he does as a man so much as by who he is as an athlete. Those guys don’t quit on a whim and whimper. They have to be dragged, kicking and screaming into the afterlife.

When Favre retires for real it will be on a grand stage, with lights, cameras, tears, fawning TV heads and everything short of a bugler sounding Taps.

He’s like the modern version of the Spartan warrior - the only way he’ll go home is on his shield. A boo-boo on his ankle doesn’t sound like the mortal wound.

The day the NFL season kicks off with Favre sitting at home in Mississippi is the day I believe he MIGHT actually be thinking he’s retired. Even then there’s every chance halfway through the season he won’t be able to resist charging to the playoff-challenged Vikings’ rescue with another heroic comeback attempt.

The day the Vikings’ line up to start the season with Tarvaris Jackson under centre is the day Brett Favre is done. Maybe. Until then, it’s just words.


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