Favre future in doubt despite hints he'll return next season

Updated: January 21, 2008, 1:01 AM ET
Associated Press

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Brett Favre's season lasted longer than anyone would have guessed -- even Favre himself.

Now that it's over, will he be back for another?

[+] EnlargeBrett Favre
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesBrett Favre takes a look at a scoreboard that didn't go his way on Sunday.

A 2007 season that was marked by the remarkable resurgence of both Favre and his Green Bay Packers ended in disappointment Sunday night, as the Packers lost to the New York Giants 23-20 in overtime in the NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field.

The game seemed to be setting up for another one of Favre's magical moments after Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes missed a potential game-winning 36-yard field goal at the end of regulation, giving Favre another shot at the victory in overtime.

But Favre threw an interception to Corey Webster on the Packers' second play, and Tynes kicked a game-clinching 47-yard field goal to send the Packers home for the winter.

Now, Favre is left to ponder the decision that has kept Cheeseheads on edge for each of the past several cold offseasons: Will he retire, or decide to return for his 18th NFL season?

"I'm not going to rush to make any quick decision, but I think probably it'll be much quicker than it has been in the past -- and people will probably appreciate that," Favre said. "But I'm just going to try to enjoy this season we had as much as I can and try to block this game out. It's going to be very hard. I'm not going to let this game sway my decision one way or another."

Favre said he would likely speak to Packers coach Mike McCarthy on Monday, then go home to make his decision.

"We will talk about it in a timely fashion," McCarthy said.

Certainly, the smart money seems to be that Favre is leaning toward returning.

Favre himself hinted at that a few days before the Packers' divisional playoff game victory over Seattle last week, telling his hometown newspaper, the Biloxi (Miss.) Sun Herald, that he would "like to continue longer."

After the Seattle game, Favre said he hadn't made a final decision; as usual, he'd huddle with his family after the season before he decided. For the record, his two daughters want him to come back.

Packers linebacker Nick Barnett can't imagine Favre not coming back.

"I know he had a great season and we had a great year, minus missing the Super Bowl," Barnett said. "I just don't see him walking away. I think he has so much more left in him. He still loves to play the game. If he walks away, it'll be a surprise to me."

This certainly isn't the first time No. 4 has flirted with retirement, as the Favre watch has become as much a part of winter in Wisconsin as snowmobiling and ice fishing.

Favre has taken weeks and even months to make his decision after recent seasons, with Cheeseheads hanging on his every word as his football future hangs in the balance.

Favre ended the 2006 season by tearing up on television, leading many to wonder whether it would end up being his final season. Then he came back anyway.

When he made the comments to the Biloxi Sun-Herald two weeks ago hinting he might be coming back, he sent the entire state of Wisconsin to overtime, even prompting the governor's office to issue a statement prematurely congratulating Favre for his decision, the political version of a false start.

Even though it has been widely assumed Favre would indeed come back to play next season after having one of the best seasons of his career in 2007, the quarterback and his coach have said they would wait until after the season to discuss the issue.

And Favre said his decision wouldn't be automatic, even if the Packers had gone to the Super Bowl and won.

"Had we won this game and gone to the Super Bowl, whatever happened in that game, when it was over I was going to go home and think about where I wanted to go from there," Favre said. "I don't think that that's going to really change because we didn't make it. It's been a great year, and I'm very disappointed. But had we gone to the Super Bowl and lost, unfortunately, I would have been disappointed there, too. Had we been fortunate enough to win, the decision was still there, and there were several ways to look at it."

Now the end of the season has arrived. It went on longer than expected, which just adds to the intrigue.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press