No Surprise: Favre Will Return In 2003


Favre restated his plans to return for the 2003 season.

Just a few minutes before television and radio stations broadcast live across the state of Wisconsin Brett Favre's Monday morning press conference, Frank Winters was asked if he had a gut feeling about Favre's future in Green Bay.

Considering that the 38-year-old center has been Favre's teammate for 11 years, his roommate for training camps and road trips, you'd think he might have some new inside information.

"He'll be back," Winters said.

Well, of course he would be. After all, hadn't Favre said as much himself this season?

Apparently not loud enough, or at the right times.

Because all it took was Favre failing to speak to the media after Saturday's playoff loss to the Atlanta Falcons to make the most overly hyped story of the football season reach Ben & J. Lo proportions.

Monday, as Favre strode into the media auditorium in the bowels of Lambeau Field, TVs and radios statewide were patched in. Cameras clicked rapidly every time Favre lifted his arm from the podium.

It was as if Favre was about to announce that he would make himself a subject for human cloning. But instead it was the same old, same old.

Would Favre return for the 2003 season?

"I don't see any reason why I shouldn't," he said.

"As I said during the season, I have every intention of coming back, want to be back. I see no reason why this team shouldn't compete for a Super Bowl next year, or why I shouldn't be a part of it.

"Hopefully we'll leave it at that, and next year you all can start asking me the same (retirement) questions again."

From training camp through the post-season, when asked about retirement Favre has said time and time again that he would be back in 2003, so long as he was wanted and physically able.

Beyond that, he has refused to speculate. And from what should have been perceived as refreshing honesty from a high-profile athlete, some jumped to the conclusion that the straight-shooting Favre had elected to uncharacteristically drop hints below the radar.

The resulting hoopla surprised the three-time NFL MVP.

"I never once came out and talked about retirement," Favre said. "I can't even remember when the question was asked first. My response then was, 'This is 12 years, at some point it's going to happen. I'm closer to retirement than I was five years ago.' And from that statement it just took off.

"I feel like the last two years I've played as good a football as I've played my 11 years here. I've always said my formula for returning is how I play, the injuries that so far I've been able to overcome ... or if it gets to a point where a business decision (is made) from the Packers' standpoint ...

"If any of those things occur, then my decision, or the Packers' decision, will be made clear. But right now, I'm playing great. This team has a chance (to win the Super Bowl) and I'm having fun. So that's how I'm going to leave it."

Leave the subject, not the game of football.

After another MVP-caliber season -- he finished second in the Associated Press voting -- there's no reason to do that.

Furnished with a talented, but mostly inexperienced, receiving corps, protected by an offensive line plagued by injuries, and aided by a backfield that suffered its share of dents and dings, Favre produced this season like few, if any, quarterbacks could have.

En route to a 12-4 record and NFC North title, Favre completed 341 of 551 passes (61.9 percent) for 3,658 yards and 27 touchdowns, with 16 interceptions -- many of the latter coming in desperate situations in the Packers' few losses.

More significantly, he started every game, bringing his consecutive regular season starts total to 173. That was no small feat considering the sprained lateral collateral ligament suffered midway through the season.

Despite the sore knee, Favre said he feels as strong physically and mentally as he did at the end of 2001.

His more significant pain is from Saturday's loss. And it was that aching, not contemplations of retirement, that caused him to skip his scheduled post-game press conference.

That and his desire to tuck in 3-year-old daughter Breleigh, who left Green Bay Sunday for the Favres' offseason home in Hattiesburg, Miss.

"We were in bed watching cartoons, I don't know what else to tell you," Favre said. "Not to mention I wasn't in a great mood."

How could he be? The Packers had just suffered their first ever playoff loss at Lambeau Field, ruining months of championship dreams.

That a fierce competitor like Favre would be able to take such a loss in stride would be a better indication that he was near retirement than his absence at a press conference.

Yet the speculation increased, right up until Monday morning when Favre put it to rest. Again.

Said Favre, "I'm upset we didn't go any farther, but I'm still standing, still feel like I'm playing my best, will be back next year and I don't see any reason why we can't compete for the Super Bowl."

What about 2004?

Apparently that will be the undying question of 2003.

In the meantime, Packers fans know they get to see Favre in the green and gold for at least another year.

A little more time to enjoy one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. And to look into that human cloning thing.

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