- The Washington Times - Friday, May 1, 2009

Brett Favre is returning to the NFL. You can tell from his latest statement.

“Nothing has changed,” he said after being released by the Jets. “At this time, I am retired and have no intention of returning to football.”

At this time next week, Favre still could be retired.

At this time in a month or two - after all the media-spun speculation and leaks involving the principals - Favre will have every intention of returning to the NFL.

So here we go again with the will-he, won’t-he, of-course-he-will annual rite of spring.

Favre is the quarterback who equivocates with the best. Parses, too.

He retires every winter, only to reconsider every spring.

By being granted his release from the Jets, Favre has achieved the free agency the Packers denied him last summer. Now Favre is free to talk with the Vikings, the team that was at the top of his wish list last summer.

Favre in purple would mean two must-see meetings against the Packers, including a trip to Lambeau Field.

Favre has to like what he sees in Minneapolis: the drafting of big-play wide receiver Percy Harvin and a quarterback position steeped in mediocrity.

Even Harvin could not name the Vikings’ quarterback during his initial get-acquainted session with the Twin Cities press.

“I’ve been waiting for this great opportunity to play with great players, uh, Adrian Peterson, uh, the quarterback… some of those players,” Harvin said.

Harvin’s, uh, brain lock was understandable considering Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson pass as quarterbacks with the Vikings.

But no more.

Favre, in his Wrangler jeans, is warming up his throwing arm on a Mississippi sandlot.

He has cleared his throat and dispensed the wiggle-room phrases of “at this time” and “have no intention.”

Favre knows there is lots of time left before the start of training camp and a quarterback with a Hall of Fame background is allowed to change his intention.

Favre also knows he could have squelched the retirement question by simply saying, “I am retired, period.”

Many of the pontificating class see Favre’s inability to let go as evidence of a vanity problem.

That notion is not exactly wrong. But it trivializes the internal struggle all professional athletes face. They are deemed too old well before they hit middle age, a reality that exacerbates their conflict.

Most elite athletes do not know when to leave the game. Their mind is inevitably willing even if their compromised body is in varying states of decline.

Favre’s 39 years seemingly overtook him last season. He was everything the Jets so desperately needed in the first three months of the season. The Jets were atop the AFC East, and Favre had played himself into another Pro Bowl before he tore a biceps tendon in his throwing arm and lost considerable zip on his passes.

The Jets proceeded to drop four of their last five games and miss the playoffs, while Favre became an interception-prone drag on the team.

It was not Johnny Unitas-in-a-Chargers-jersey bad. But it was not Joe Montana leading the Chiefs to the playoffs either.

It was the curse of a 39-year-old body. Tendons, like rubber bands, have a way of snapping more readily with age and overuse.

That reality will not deter Favre, who undoubtedly is feeling 39 years young after not being slammed to the turf by 330-pound men the last four months.

He is thinking he has another quality season left in his right arm. He is thinking he would like to meet up with the Packers. He is thinking he could be the difference-maker with a team that has a solid offensive line and playmakers in Peterson, Harvin and Bernard Berrian.

The Vikings merely need a capable quarterback to contend in the NFC North.

It is just too perfect, this scenario. Favre will not be able to resist.

He is coming back. Again.

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