Within 24 hours, media outlets across the country were reporting that Favre was done, until the future Hall of Famer was interviewed after a workout with a local high school team in Hattiesburg, Miss., in which he said he had yet to make a decision, and that he would play in 2010 "if he's healthy."
So the backpedaling already has begun, if in fact he told anyone he was retiring.
Vikings fans — at least those who don't view him as "still a Packer" — did more than cringe at the idea that Favre, who had arguably his best season last year, throwing 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions in the season, might be calling it a career (everyone say it together: "again"). By comparison, the two quarterbacks in position to try to fill Favre's unfillable shoes, Tavaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels, have thrown a total of 51 touchdown passes — over a combined 13 NFL seasons.
Three people who are among the most eager to see if Favre really does retreat to his tractor in Mississippi are Mike McCarthy, Sean Payton and Wade Phillips.
The coaches of the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys, respectively, undoubtedly are saying all of the right things to the media at their assorted training camp sites, talking about how Favre "is one of the greatest players in NFL history, is fun to watch, is a fierce competitor, etc.," but deep down, they have to be hoping his ankle really doesn't let him return to the field (published reports have quoted Favre's agent, Bus Cook, as saying the 40-year-old passer has an appointment next week with noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, the doctor who operated on Favre's ankle in the spring; the outcome of the meeting could well determine whether Favre returns to the field).
At this time every year, fans, media and bookmakers are poring over preseason reports and trying to weigh the chances various teams have of reaching the Super Bowl. In the NFC this season, Dallas, Green Bay and the defending champions have to be considered the top three choices to get to the NFL's biggest game. With Favre, the Vikings clearly are in that class. With Jackson or Rosenfels running the show ... the NFC looks like a three-team race.
Make no mistake, a Favre retirement wouldn't leave Minnesota without talent; the Vikings still have a formidable defense, a solid cast of receivers, a big, talented offensive line and either the first- or second-best running back in the league, depending on who is rating Adrian Peterson against Tennessee's Chris Johnson.
Translation: the Vikings will still win games. But Green Bay has to be considered the preseason favorite in the NFC North if Favre stays retired. New Orleans and Dallas will be prohibitive favorites to win their divisions in most people's minds.
If Favre retires, the pressure actually goes up on the coaches of those three teams, especially on Phillips. If he walks away from the game, there should be two teams that could knock any of the others from the playoffs. Sure, there will be some others that might have strong seasons and make a run in the playoffs. The San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons all have the chance to have good seasons, but does anyone really expect any of those teams to knock off the Big Three and represent the NFC in the Super Bowl?
Phillips has even more pressure on him. Ever since Minnesota — with that Favre guy at quarterback — sent the Cowboys into their offseason with a 34-3 mauling in January, the talk around Valley Ranch has been about the chance the Cowboys have to play in a Super Bowl in their home stadium.
Many members of the media expect it to happen. So do Cowboys fans.
Rest assured, so does owner Jerry Jones.
Jones, his team and Cowboy fans everywhere would love a chance to exact a measure of revenge against Minnesota, whether the Vikings have Brett Favre or Brent Musburger at quarterback. But the chances for Dallas, New Orleans and Green Bay — or any other upstart NFC team — to reach the Super Bowl improve significantly if the NFL's all-time leader in yards, touchdowns and victories stays retired.
How Does Favre Saga Affect Cowboys?
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