Brett Favre's determination to play quarterback this season for the Minnesota Vikings prompted him to undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair his injured passing shoulder recently, according to two sources. However, Favre remains unable to make a commitment because subsequent throwing sessions indicate the shoulder is not yet 100 percent.
While Favre has now clearly demonstrated his interest in coming out of
retirement for a 19th season in the NFL, it seems equally obvious that he will not
do so unless convinced he has recovered fully from the torn biceps tendon
that undermined him last year with the New York Jets.
Favre began considering options to repair the shoulder last month when he sought
advice from acclaimed orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews. Favre and Andrews
discussed surgical and non-surgical options. When cortisone injections and
exercise therapies that included weight lifting failed to release the damaged
tendon naturally, Favre consented to the arthroscopic surgery.
Favre has thrown on a limited basis since the surgery, which occurred last month, but has not felt close to "100 percent" and would not come back unless he makes significant progress, sources said.
Favre's agent, Bus Cook, would not confirm or deny the surgery, saying "That's a confidential client privilege."
Other sources say they believe Favre's ultimate recovery makes him a certainty to play for the Vikings, but the team will wrap up their organized team activities (OTAs) with four practices, Tuesday through Friday. The team also has two OTA dates remaining for the following week, but coach Brad Childress has traditionally canceled those as a reward for his players' hard work.
The Vikings report to training camp at the end of July and could agree to a contract if Favre's recovery accelerates to the point where both the quarterback and the team are comfortable with his return for the 2009 season, sources said. Favre's motivation to un-retire again is based on his desire to keep playing and the fact that he perceives the Vikings as a Super Bowl contender that runs "his offense," virtually identical to what he directed for 16 years in Green Bay, the sources contend.
Vikings sources declined to comment. Childress reiterated last week that Favre "is retired" but refused to set a deadline on any potential decision.
Cook also reiterated this weekend, "As far as I know, Brett is still retired and reserves the right to change his mind."
Favre's determination to play can be measured by his willingness to undergo arthroscopic surgery by Andrews, inasmuch sources said the quarterback wanted to avoid any procedure. Favre suffered the injury during the final stretch of his one season with the New York Jets in 2008. The Jets released him upon his request shortly after the April 25-26 draft, making him an unrestricted free agent. Favre already had said he was going to retire again, citing the injury as a major factor.
ESPN reported on May 14 that Favre had consulted with Andrews regarding his arm and the surgical and non-surgical options. The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported on May 18 that Favre was having surgery by Andrews that week; a source told ESPN that no surgery was scheduled. The specific date of Favre's recent surgery is unknown, except that it occurred last month.
Chris Mortensen is a senior NFL analyst for ESPN. Ed Werder covers the NFL for ESPN.