Football's version of the Apocalypse has been avoided.
Brett Favre has decided to stay retired and not sign with the Packers' arch rivals in Minnesota. The Star Tribune in Minneapolis was the first to report to the news.
"It was the hardest decision I've every made," Favre told ESPN's Ed Werder. "I didn't feel like physically I could play at a level that was acceptable. I would like to thank everyone, including the Packers, Jets and Vikings, but most importantly, the fans."
The Packers — who are scheduled to play at Minnesota on Monday, Oct. 5, and host the Vikings on Sunday, Nov. 1 — did not have a comment.
Favre's decision was stunning — though there's a chance it's not his final decision. On Tuesday evening, he told his good friend Steve Mariucci, the former Packers assistant and current NFL Network analyst, that he plans to continue throwing and working out.
But, for now, he remains retired. After spending one season with the New York Jets, the record-setting ironman retired for a second time on Feb. 11. During the press conference, Favre said he would not ask the Jets for his release, saying he respected the ownership too much to do that. About 10 weeks later, on April 28, Favre was granted his release by the Jets.
He had arthroscopic surgery in May to repair his right shoulder, which let him down as he struggled down the stretch and the Jets plummeted out of playoff contention. On June 15, Favre broke the silence on Joe Buck's HBO show. He said playing for the Vikings "makes perfect sense," considering he knew the offense and the coaches and would get two cracks at the Packers. He even said "we" when talking about the Vikings.
Favre's family booked hotel rooms for the Nov. 1 game and he spent July throwing to high school players in Mississippi. There were reports that Favre was house hunting in the Minneapolis area and that the Vikings' head trainer had ordered No. 4 jerseys.
"Absolutely surprised," new Packers Hall of Fame receiver Antonio Freeman told ESPNews. "I was almost positive that Brett would come back. I saw a 40-year-old guy out there working hard in the hot Mississippi heat throwing to some high-schoolers. To me, that was a true indication that he wasn't testing his shoulder but that he was definitely going to make an attempt to come back and play for the Minnesota Vikings."
Freeman and other insiders speculated that Favre was worried about his shoulder and his ability to play at a high level for 16 games and the playoffs.
"We know the surgery itself was successful," Favre said after throwing in Mississippi in June. "It cleared up what was bothering me, but maybe I throw differently. Maybe my mechanics have changed some, because that's what happened to me late in the year. My mechanics had changed some. My accuracy was affected."
While the shoulder was fine, Werder said Favre told him that a sore knee and two sore ankles were key reasons for his decision. Apparently, Favre made the decision about 10 days ago but was asked by coach Brad Childress to reconsider.
The final decision came two days before his self-imposed deadline. Vikings players are set to arrive in Mankato, Minn., for the start of training camp on Wednesday with the first practice on Friday.
"You're talking about a 40-year-old man having to report to training camp and staying in dorms with a bunch of guys that he really don't know," Freeman said of Favre, who turns 40 in October.
Talking to FoxSports.com's Jay Glazer, standout defensive end Jared Allen said: "I just got off the phone with Brad, and Brett said he's staying retired. He said he couldn't deal with the daily grind. He said he felt like he let us down before it got started. You know what, we were never really sure he was coming anyway, so we've always backed up Tarvaris (Jackson) and Sage (Rosenfels). We feel we can win with the guys we have here. I'm glad it's over."
"I just think it was a rare opportunity to explore a Hall of Fame quarterback who had background in the NFC and in this division," Vikings coach Brad Childress told the Star Tribune. "He knows our system inside out ... This doesn't change anything about how I feel about our football team."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.