CHICAGO -- Oh boy. As the Minnesota Vikings' season has slowly spiraled downward, quarterback Brett Favre has faced various forms of this question: Would he retire or quit or somehow step aside if it became clear the Vikings would not make the playoffs?
Sunday, he said: "As long as there is hope, let's not worry about that. Don't push it. When there is no hope in that locker room ... I have no idea how the mathematics plays out with this whole thing. There is still a little hope left. I can't speak for the rest of the team, but I do know that the consensus afterwards that there was some life still left."
A few moments later, however, Favre revealed to ESPN's Ed Werder a bit of information that could offer him a relatively graceful out from this mess if he chooses to take it. Favre admitted he felt a sharp pain in his right shoulder Saturday while putting on a T-shirt before practice. The pain was severe enough that he considered taking a pain-killing shot before Sunday's 27-13 loss to the Chicago Bears.
Favre has had two issues with the right shoulder. One is the torn biceps tendon that significantly impacted his play with the New York Jets in 2008. The second is a partially torn rotator cuff that doctors found when they repaired the biceps tendon in 2009.
Favre has said several times that he might have erred in continuing to play through the 2008 injury. He is proud of his 294-game streak of consecutive starts, but I'm guessing he's even prouder of his strong-armed legacy. You wonder if he would give any pause about playing his final seven NFL games with a gimpy arm.
Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. All we know is Favre has admitted to sharp pain in his throwing arm.
Sunday, there were some interesting but not necessarily ominous signs. First, Favre's accuracy notably diminished after halftime, when he completed only 10 of 21 passes after hitting 9-of-12 in the first.
Second, Favre significantly underthrew receiver Percy Harvin midway through the third quarter -- so much so that Harvin's lunge through Chicago Bears safety Danieal Manning actually resulted in a 42-yard pass interference call.
For now, it's a situation worth monitoring on multiple levels. It's one thing for a quarterback to have a leg or even a foot injury. But when you're talking about the throwing arm, you have to take every injury seriously. Favre has already had elbow tendinitis treated with a cortisone shot and now has something going on with his shoulder. Is it the out he needs -- or wants? Stay tuned.