Two key factors indicate Favre is likely retiring for good this time
Again, the most frequent reaction to the Favre retirement news is "yeah, right"
Reason one he will stay retired: His injured right biceps is still plaguing him
Reason two: Favre left his comfort zone last year, and he won't want to again
That's the text message I got back this morning from Brett Favre after I sent him one that said, simply: "Can I confirm the report that you're retiring for good?''
That's the thing it seems I'm hearing from everyone as the first waves of this news roll over the football public. So many of you don't believe it, and won't believe it, until August rolls around and Favre is a 39-year-old land baron in Sumrall, Miss., instead of a 39-year-old contender for the starting quarterback job with (pick one) the Vikings, the Jets or the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The first questions everyone will ask in the wake of the ESPN report announcing Favre's retirement are whether it's forever and why this year is different than last. First, don't take anything I say on this to the bank, because 49 weeks ago I got a definitive phone message from a decisive Favre, saying he was finished, he'd had enough and it was time to go. So I was slow to buy into the Favre-will-return talk. And I was downright wrong two or three times when asked how the whole thing would end up. You might be smart to believe the opposite of what I say, quite frankly.
But there are two reasons why I think it's different this year. The first has to do with his health. He said via text this morning that his biceps injury -- he has an injured right biceps muscle, which plagued him in December -- is still bothering him. "And I won't have surgery,'' he said. A year ago, he was fit as a fiddle.
Two: Last year, against his better judgment, he left his comfort zone, he moved his family, he entered a strange new world with tabloids and justifiably great expectations, and he tried something. It worked for a while, then ended in crushing disappointment. I think what Favre is feeling this morning -- been there, done that -- won't change except in the very, very unlikely event he or his agent, Bus Cook, could engineer one last season in Minnesota with his former Packer assistant-coaching mentor, Darrell Bevell. Don't look for that to happen.
A year ago, as the summer hit, Favre thought he really wanted to play again. He'd just come off his most accurate season as a quarterback. If the Packers wouldn't give him his old job back, then fine, he'd head to Minnesota or, as a last resort, Chicago, to play one or two more years. When the Packers wouldn't give him his release, and he finally accepted that, he then had to figure out if the Jets or Bucs, the only teams showing interest in him, held any allure. I remember being with him in Mississippi the weekend before he reported to Green Bay. He was still hopeful the Packers would relent and let him go to Minnesota. I told him he was dreaming. And I told him, "Why don't you at least give the Jets a chance? Maybe it won't come to anything, but you don't want to look back some day and say, 'I should have given the game one last try.'''
Three days later, GM Mike Tannenbaum convinced Favre to play for the Jets, and the rest is history. When Favre and I spoke shortly after the season, he said, kiddingly, "This is all your fault!''
But he also said he really liked his time in New Jersey. He liked his team, he's glad his daughter, Breleigh, got to experience a way of life different from the Midwest and the deep South, and he enjoyed another experience with another team. Despite the late losses and his poor play down the stretch, he never expressed to me regret that he gave it another shot in a foreign environment. "No regrets,'' he said that day. "It was a great experience.''
There was a weariness to his voice that day, five days after the season. But there was something else, something like, I'm glad I did what I just did for the last five months, but shoot me, please, if I ever try to do anything like that again. That's what I heard. That's why I think he's kaput now, once and for all.
Could he change his mind? Sure. Will he? I sincerely doubt it, even if his arm starts feeling right again.