After all he's been through this year – ankle surgery to remove scar tissue and bone spurs in May, talk of him ready to retire in August, allegations of inappropriate photos and voice mails sent to a former Jets employee Jenn Sterger, the loss of Sidney Rice as his top receiver for the first half of the season, and tendinitis in his elbow – it's easy to see why the weight of the season would be wearing down the NFL ironman.
The pressure may come to a boiling point this week as he prepares to return to Lambeau Field as a Viking for the second time in his career. It will be a prime-time game Sunday night on national television. And the league's investigation into allegations published on the web site Deadspin.com is just getting started with a visit Tuesday from the NFL's vice president of security, Milt Ahlerich.
Through it all, Favre is trying to keep his focus on football.
"I don't know if it can add to the magnitude, unless we come back in the playoffs, which there's always an outside chance of that, this is my last go-around," Favre told reporters in Green Bay during a conference call Wednesday. "I, of course, played a ton of games in that stadium and not once did I ever step in that stadium – it was obviously different last year – that I did not respect and feel very privileged to be on Lambeau Field. Every touchdown I've thrown in that stadium was as joyous as the next. So I've always savored the moment. I never took it for granted. This will be no exception.
"But, yes, unless we were to go back in the playoffs, this will be it, yeah."
Favre experienced a renaissance year in 2009, his first with the Vikings, throwing 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions and taking the team to overtime of the NFC Championship Game. On several occasions, he has called it his best season as a pro.
This year has been far different. He already has seven interceptions in five games and the Vikings have struggled their way to a 2-3 record.
It took three of his closest friends on the Vikings – kicker Ryan Longwell, guard Steve Hutchinson and defensive end Jared Allen – to pry Favre out of Hattiesburg, Miss., and back into the NFL spotlight in the middle of August. Regrets at this point? Maybe, but he's not admitting to them.
"I wouldn't say second-guessing, but all my thinking was prior to once I committed to playing. … I wish our record was better and I was playing consistently at a high level, but my commitment to myself and this team has not wavered one bit from when I committed to come here," Favre said.
"You have no idea what to expect. You can assume you'll pick up right where we left off. But last year, aside from not winning the Super Bowl, was, how could anyone say it was anything less than spectacular in a lot of ways? … The way it kind of played out was shocking to a lot of people. It's just hard to play at that level consistently across the board."
RICE NOT READY
Wide receiver Sidney Rice is eligible to start practicing with the Vikings this week, but he's not healthy enough to do that quite yet. After completing six weeks on the physically unable to perform list to start the seaosn, Rice could rejoin the team under NFL rules. However, his surgically repaired hip isn't ready for the rigors of team practices.
"He's still going through his treatment," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "At such a time he can get out there, we've got to declare that and he's got three weeks from that point when he's physically out there practicing, taking practice turns. He can do some land training and that, whether it's walking or jogging on the turf or on the grass, but we've got three weeks from when we feel like he's able to come back and practice where we have to take a look at him. And there's football shape, there's conditioning shape."
Rice was out at practice last week catching a football on the sidelines while jogging lightly in front of trainers, but he didn't go through any of the practice routine. It's one step at a time, and he shed the crutches just 10 days ago.
FAVRE: IT'S A LEAGUE ISSUE
Brett Favre declined to discuss details of his meeting Tuesday with the NFL's vice president of security, Milt Ahlerich. Favre and his agent, Bus Cook, met with the NFL at the Vikings' Winter Park facility to discuss allegations that the quarterback sent lewd photos of himself to Jenn Sterger, a former employee of the New York Jets in 2008 when Favre played for the Jets.
If the NFL finds enough evidence to say that he violated the league's personal conduct policy, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could fine or suspend Favre.
Favre was asked four questions about the meeting and allegations during his Wednesday press conference and consistently deflected the conversation back to football.
"The one thing I'm going to say is that's something that's within the league and I just have to leave it at that and let that process work itself out," Favre said.
Childress said he hasn't been part of the league's investigation and said the issue hasn't created a distraction for the team.
"I don't know how it could be a distraction. Really that's a league matter and I'm not authorized to comment on that," Childress said.
EXTENSIVE INJURY REPORT
The Vikings listed 10 players on their injury report – three that didn't practice on Wednesday and seven that were limited.
S Husain Abdullah (concussion), TE Jim Kleinsasser (groin) and CB Lito Sheppard (hand) didn't practice.
Childress said Abdullah was still "foggy" after suffering a concussion early in Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys. He was replaced by Jamarca Sanford, but Childress said both Sanford and Tyrell Johnson, who was inactive Sunday, would have a chance to compete for the strong safety spot if Abdullah can't play Sunday night against the Packers.
Sheppard was wearing a wrap on his right hand Monday in the locker room.
Favre (ankle/elbow), CB Chris Cook (knee), G Chris DeGeare (ankle), LB E.J. Henderson (knee), DE Brian Robison (ankle), C John Sullivan (calf) and DT Letroy Guion (toe) were all limited Wednesday.
Not to be outdone, the Packers listed a dozen players on their Wednesday injury report.
The Packers declared DE Mike Neal (shoulder) and LB Brady Poppinga (knee) out for Sunday's game. Poppinga had surgery to repair a torn meniscus.
S Nick Collins (knee), WR Donald Driver (quadriceps) and LB A.J. Hawk (groin) didn't practice Wednesday.
LB Brandon Chillar (shoulder), T Chad Clifton (knee), DE Cullen Jenkins (hand), LB Clay Matthews (hamstring), DE Ryan Pickett (ankle), T Mark Tauscher (shoulder) and CB Charles Woodson (toe) were all limited in Green Bay's Wednesday practice.
"The way I'm handling it, if it feels fine I'm taking all or close to all the reps. I think that's always important," Favre said. "… I think the cortisone injection has helped, but I'm reluctant to say, just knowing that I had tendinitis before, that it's gone, especially the way I throw. (I'm) hardheaded, not wanting to take time off. Keep my fingers crossed, but right now it feels better."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.