Brett Favre put his hand on the railing to help boost himself up to postgame podium for his press conference. He winced a little, wobbled over to the microphone and began speaking words but offering little in the way of answers.
It was too soon and Favre had taken too much of a beating to make any drastic decisions about his future. But after talking retirement for the last six years, the questions were bound to come only minutes after another NFC Championship loss – his second in three years and one that might have been a win if not for a fourth-quarter interception that stymied what would have been a chance for a long game-winning field goal.
Favre spent some time talking about a game in which the Vikings fumbled the ball six times, losing three of them, and had five turnovers – two of them coming on Favre interceptions. But the question quickly turned to his future and when he would make a decision.
"I would not say months," he said. "But I know people will roll their eyes. In a situation like this I really don't want to make a decision right now based on solely on what's happened."
What happened is that Favre took a beating similar to the ones that Archie Manning used to take in 1984, the one season he got any playing time with the Vikings. During that infamous Les Steckel-led season, Manning took 18 sacks and only attempted 94 passes. Now the team on which Manning became famous, the New Orleans Saints, will face his son, Peyton, in the Super Bowl, partly because the Vikings couldn't keep Favre upright and comfortable enough in the pocket to find a rhythm.
The Saints didn't register a sack of Favre, but they nearly knocked him out. Former Vikings safety Darren Sharper put a lick on the quarterback just after he released a pass. Several other Saints knocked him around, some with late hits and driving him into the ground that drew penalties. They kept coming at him and he continued to peel himself off the turf in agony.
"We got to him a lot. We thought that if we hit him a lot that he would start making mistakes," said Saints defensive end Will Smith. "A couple of balls that he threw should have been intercepted, but we dropped them. We just wanted to keep coming after him and keep hitting him. We tried to make him feel as uncomfortable as possible. He got hurt and wasn't able to move like he did in the first half."
Favre took his bitter medicine like Rocky Balboa and continued to fight on, but he was nearly knocked out of the game when a high-low hit twisted his foot and sprained his ankle. He was helped to the sideline by the training staff in the third quarter and grimaced in pain as the medical staff taped him up and put him back on the field.
"I thought it was a gutty, gutty performance," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "I thought he grinded it out."
But the question is whether or not he will want to grind it out another season
"I really enjoyed the guys. I wonder if I can hold up," Favre said, "especially after a day like today physically and mentally. That was pretty draining. I am going to go home in a couple days and talk it over with the family."
Players all said they wanted him to return, but Sidney Rice wasn't going to apply the sort of pressure on the 40-year old that the Saints did.
"I'm not going to put too much pressure on him," Rice said. "I'm going to let him sit back like he said he would do and talk to his family and things like that. We definitely would love to have him back."
Favre wouldn't say if he was leaning one way or another. His desire to win another Super Bowl might bring him back, but a battering like he experienced Sunday might be enough to leave him wondering if he really wants to go through another season under duress.
"It is hard to think about anything other than the loss," he said. "I may wake up (Monday) and who knows?"
He might not know, but even the offensive linemen that tried to protect him seemed impressed with his willingness to keep fighting.
"You have to hand it to him that he fought hardest of all of us out there," tackle Bryant McKinnie said. "He wanted to win real bad. I hope he comes back next year and leads us here again."
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.
Favre takes beating, contemplates retirement
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