Continued from page 1

What was really holding him up was what Favre called a fear of failure. He was coming off what he called the best season of a record-setting career that includes a Super Bowl title and three MVP awards. He will turn 41 in October and wondered if he could defy the odds yet again.

“I can only control what I do, but I don’t want to fail,” Favre said. “And you know what? I’m just being honest with you.”

The gray-haired Favre threw 33 touchdowns and only seven interceptions to lead the Vikings to the NFC North title last season. He passed for 310 yards and a touchdown against the Saints in the Superdome, but also threw that fateful interception.

Now after being cajoled by Allen, Hutchinson and Longwell, Favre will have one more shot at redemption and a second Lombardi Trophy. The journey could begin as soon as Sunday night in the Vikings‘ exhibition game at San Francisco.

Longwell, who has known Favre for years dating back to their days together in Green Bay and spoke to him often this summer as the drama unfolded, put the chances of Favre returning at “about 0.2 percent” before they knocked on his door.

“He’s pretty at peace down there,” Longwell said. “And so with his family around and the way he was thinking it was pretty open and shut that he was comfortable there and we were going to have to come up with something else to get him back.”

Hutchinson said coach Brad Childress asked all three players if they would be willing to make the trip down on Monday after practice to get an answer once and for all.

“Really, it was a message from our locker room,” Hutchinson said. “We’re down here to find out what you want to do. The guys on this team want you here. Everybody wants you here. Basically that’s what we told him.”

The coach’s willingness to let one player skip all of training camp before sending a group of prized veterans to personally ask him to come back has drawn some criticism from analysts. But Childress knows that Favre gives the team the best chance to win the Super Bowl, and that’s all that matters to him.

“You can say, hey, we’re pushing it all to the middle of the table. That’s how we feel every year,” Childress said. “Any team in the National Football League that doesn’t start by saying, ‘We want to go to the Super Bowl and win the Super Bowl‘ there’s something wrong.”

Win or lose, Favre said that this will be the last time he holds a welcome back press conference, believe it or not.

“I can promise you this: Not that I have ever set out as a goal to play 20 years, it’s 20 years and I’m done. This is the last year of my contract. I’m sure a lot of people are like, ‘Yes!’” Favre said, pumping his fist.

Then, of course, he hesitated.

“Did I just say that?” he said with a grin. “I do believe it now. I do. I’m going to fall apart sometime.”