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

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?

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

"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

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.