- Associated Press - Thursday, August 19, 2010

EDEN PRAIRIE, MINN. (AP) - As far as Brett Favre was concerned, he was finished.

Last we saw the 40-year-old quarterback in action, he was barely able to walk off the Superdome turf, his body aching from the beating the New Orleans Saints delivered in January’s NFC title game.

Favre was one play away from his goal _ taking the Minnesota Vikings to the Super Bowl _ when he threw an interception in the final minute of regulation, then watched from the sidelines as the Saints kicked the winning field goal in overtime.

“Believe me, when I left New Orleans, a big part of me was _ I don’t want to say done _ but the fact that we lost that game, how hard it is,” Favre said, his voice trailing off.

Ryan Longwell, Steve Hutchinson and Jared Allen, his three closest friends on the team, unexpectedly arrived at his doorstep on Monday night.

“We need an answer, yes or no,” they told Favre. “We’re either going home with you or moving on without you.”

So here we are, with Favre about to start his 20th NFL season.

“I’ve done it all. There’s nothing left for me to prove,” said Favre, who joined the Vikings for practice Wednesday. “I’m here to have fun, help these guys win. I really enjoy this group of guys like you wouldn’t believe. I think the feeling is mutual.”

The decision to return was nearly as agonizing as that gut-wrenching loss to the Saints.

Indecision is part of what comes in the Favre package, along with his laser-like throws into the end zone and go-for-broke playing style. He spent the last seven months going back and forth on whether or not he had anything left to give to a team he enjoyed playing with as much as any other in his 19-year career.

“I could make a case for both playing, not playing,” Favre said. “This is a very good football team. The chances (of going to the Super Bowl) here are much greater than other places. From that standpoint, it was always going to be easier (to return).

“Part of me said it was such a great year, it would be easy to say, ‘Hey, can’t play any better, why even try?’ Then the other part is, ‘Guys are playing on a high level. Why don’t I go back out?’ The expectations are high here, as they should be.”

Favre underwent left ankle surgery on May 21 and just a few weeks ago texted several teammates and Vikings officials that he would not return because the recovery was slower than he expected. But he said Wednesday that wasn’t the main concern.

“There is nothing on me that’s 100 percent. There wasn’t anything that was 100 percent last year or the year before,” Favre said. “The surgery made me a little better.

“I have played 309 straight games, I can’t complain.”

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