MANKATO, Minn. - Brett Favre has informed the Minnesota Vikings he won't return for a second season, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
As always with the 40-year-old star quarterback, things could change. He's waffled before and may very well waffle again.
Favre called coach Brad Childress to say his injured left ankle is not responding as well to surgery and rehabilitation as he had hoped, the person told the AP on condition of anonymity because the team had not made an official announcement.
Speaking to reporters after practice Tuesday, Childress wouldn't confirm Favre's status with the team, saying it was a "fluid situation" and he could very well have a fresh message from the quarterback waiting for him.
"I'm not a big hearsay person," Childress said. "I gotta hear it from the horse's mouth."
True enough. With Favre, nothing ever seems final. He told the Vikings last year he wouldn't play, but changed his mind and joined them immediately after they broke training camp. Childress even drove to the airport to pick him up for his 19th NFL season. Camp this year ends on Aug. 12.
Favre has considered retiring every summer since 2006. It led to an ugly parting with the Packers that got him traded from Green Bay to the Jets in 2008. After a so-so season in New York, he announced his retirement in early 2009 for the second time, then reconsidered and signed with the Vikings.
He had one of his best seasons last year, with career bests in completion percentage (68.4), quarterback rating (107.2) and fewest interceptions (7), while throwing for 33 TDs and 4,202 yards to lead the Vikings to an NFC North title. He hurt his left ankle in the NFC championship game loss to the New Orleans Saints and had arthroscopic surgery in May.
Favre was under contract for $13 million this season, but only if he plays.
Nearly everyone had assumed Favre would return and he did nothing to discourage that. He threw passes for a second straight summer with high school students in Hattiesburg, Miss., joked about playing until he's 50 and said playing another year wouldn't worsen his already-damaged ankle.
Childress has shrugged off all the questions and admitted several times he didn't know whether Favre would really come back. The Vikings didn't pursue a trade for Donovan McNabb and declined to select a quarterback of the future in the draft.
Still, Favre took a beating in the loss to the Saints and said afterward that he would not take long to make a decision on returning for the second year of his contract. As the months ticked by, Favre posted a statement on his website reminding everyone that his ankle problems didn't mean his career was over.
Packers linebacker Nick Barnett said he didn't know whether to believe the latest news.
"It's like believing in Santa Claus. You get gifts, but you ain't seen Santa Claus," he said. "We'll see what happens ... If he does retire, congratulations. It's a well-deserved retirement. But if he does come back, we'll be gunning for him the same way."
If Favre doesn't play next season -- and if he decides to actually retire for good -- it will end one of the most storied careers in NFL history. A three-time league MVP (1995-97), Favre won the Super Bowl in 1997 with the Packers. His 11 Pro Bowl appearances are the most ever by a quarterback.
Indeed, Favre holds most major NFL records for a quarterback, including career touchdowns (497), yards passing (69,329); wins (181); and seasons with at least 3,000 yards passing (18).
Of course, he also has thrown the most interceptions (317) and been sacked 503 times -- a long, long history of wear and tear.
Many of Favre's sacks came on scrambles, and so did the picks as he fearlessly tried to force the ball -- underhanded, left-handed, whatever worked -- where few, if any, could put it. He brought a sense of danger to the game and fans responded in droves. He's always been a gunslinger and never minded the label.
"I would hope 20, 30 years from now, I'm remembered for something else besides records," Favre told The Associated Press in 2007, when the annual summer indecision was still sort of new. "Whether I have them or don't have them. If that's the only way I'm remembered, apparently I didn't do something right or leave a good enough impression on the fans. ...
"I know when I leave the game, I'm going to miss it. I know that. I'm not going to sit here and say, when I leave, it's over and I felt like I've done everything there is to do.
"I feel like I've given every ounce of energy I can give every single time I stepped on the field."
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who grew up in Wisconsin as a Favre fan, said he was surprised the veteran might hang it up after playing so well last season.
"If it is (true), then we were lucky enough to watch an unbelievable talent and great guy," Romo said. "But it's better to go the year before than a year too late."
If Favre is gone, the Vikings will have Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels at quarterback.
Cody Walker, a 28-year-old bartender at Hubert's Bar and Grill near the Metrodome, has seen his share of Vikings' ups and downs. He was hoping Favre would play again, but said the Vikings have plenty of other talent, and a great defense.
"It'll hurt, but I think we can still be more than competitive in the NFC North, if not the entire NFL," Walker said.