With Minnesota Vikings players scheduled to report to training camp in less than a week, Brett Favre remains anguished about whether he should come out of retirement and join the team. That decision, according to sources, has become more difficult in recent days because of the efforts of Vikings players including Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen and Steve Hutchinson, all of whom have now begun calling and texting Favre in an attempt to convince him to become Minnesota's starting quarterback.
"If it weren't for the involvement of the Vikings players directly telling Brett they want him on their team, I think he might have already decided against playing again,'' a source said.
On Friday, Favre's agent, Bus Cook, told ESPN's Rachel Nichols that as far as when a decision might be revealed, "I think he's more likely to wait until the beginning or middle of next week."
Cook said that in a Friday morning conversation with Favre, Favre was still considering all of the mental and physical factors. Cook also noted that before Favre can sign any contract, he'd have to apply for reinstatement with the league. That can be handled in a letter faxed to the NFL offices, but it has not happened yet.
A source said that Favre is beginning to feel a sense of obligation, not only to Vikings players but to a coaching staff that has been recruiting him since the moment the New York Jets released him in April. According to sources, Favre has been communicating regularly with Vikings head coach Brad Childress and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who was Favre's offensive coordinator in Green Bay for three seasons.
While it has seemingly been an effective strategy, using other players to recruit Favre -- if Vikings coaches are actively involved -- is not without some risk. If Favre opts not to play, incumbent quarterbacks Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels might feel a sense of betrayal.
Money is not an issue, as a source says that Favre and the Vikings have negotiated a one-year contract worth approximately $10 million. But the quarterback has not decided whether to sign it.
What seems unresolved in Favre's mind is whether, at age 39, he can reasonably expect to be healthy enough to play 16-plus games for the Vikings while maintaining the standard of performance he expects of himself.
While Favre's shoulder injury was initially believed to be the most significant obstacle preventing his signing with the Vikings, that concern seems to have diminished. Favre has told those working with him that the arthroscopic surgery Dr. James Andrews performed in May to release a partially torn biceps tendon has produced dramatic results.
Favre has told those close to him that he seldom experiences pain in his throwing shoulder and that it feels better than it did last year while he was playing for the New York Jets.
But Favre has experienced the rigors of an 18-year NFL career and apparently worries about their effect. Favre seems aware that he will be criticized for renouncing his retirement for a second time and that would make it impossible for him to sign with the Vikings only to experience physical problems and leave the team, without enduring a hailstorm of negative reaction about why he ever tried to play again.
That is the reason, according to those close to him, that he remains conflicted about what to tell the Vikings.
The Vikings have contingency plans in place to deal with the expected surge of fans who will clamor to watch training camp if Favre does join the team. The players are eager to have an answer from Favre, sooner rather than later.
As one player who had been in a text conversation with Favre told Nichols: "By now you've pretty well got to know what you want to do, so let us know. We want you, but let's rock and roll. It's time to play football. Speculation time is over."
Ed Werder and Rachel Nichols are reporters for ESPN.