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Favre retires*

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The joke going around yesterday after the latest round of will-he-or-won’t-he with Brett Favre was that the three-time MVP should open a Waffle House in his hometown of Kiln, Mississippi.

Favre sure has waffled on the decision before, and it’s difficult to believe his latest "see ya" will stick.

A source with knowledge of the situation has told the Associated Press that the NFL’s most prolific passer is citing his injured left ankle as the reason he won’t return for a second season with Minnesota. But the Vikings aren’t taking his latest pronouncement as gospel, even after Favre texted some players to explain why he is MIA and won’t BRB during a training camp that is in full swing.

Coach Brad Childress, who not only orchestrated the Vikings’ acquisition of Favre last year but picked up his new/old quarterback at the airport, wasn’t fully swallowing this news.

"I gotta hear it from the horse’s mouth," Childress said.

The old warhorse — Favre is 40 — has used the retirement gambit often enough that there are as many doubters today as there are folks wearing purple No. 4 jerseys in Minnesota.

"I don’t know. It’s like believing in Santa Claus," former teammate Nick Barnett of the Packers said. "You get gifts, but you ain’t seen Santa Claus. So we don’t know whether it’s true or not. We’ll see what happens."

Dolphins coach Tony Sparano was just as skeptical.

"Well, I’ll believe it when the season starts and he’s … somewhere out there in (Mississippi). All I know is we’re going to Minnesota in Week 2, so I’m hoping (he’s retired).

"We’ll see," a chuckling Sparano added.

And Jaguars safety Gerald Alexander even tweeted his skepticism:

"Favre’s coming back people cmon don’t believe the hype."

All along, most people have dismissed retirement talk, figuring the past is indeed prologue with Favre. He gave it up after the 2007 season and left the Packers in March 2008. By June, he was itching to play again, and when the Packers said the job Favre held for every game from 1992 to 2007 belonged to Aaron Rodgers, he was only reinstated to their active roster by order of the NFL in August.

A few days later, he was traded to the Jets.

Favre’s Meadowlands career lasted through one 9-7 season during which he had right arm problems as the Jets were dropping four of their last five games. Five weeks after that season, he said his shoulder was too sore to keep playing and he waved goodbye to the Big Apple.

By May, he was talking with the Vikings about another return, only to announce in late July that he was staying put on the farm.

"It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made," Favre said then. "I didn’t feel like physically I could play at a level that was acceptable. I would like to thank everyone, including the Packers, Jets and Vikings — but, most importantly, the fans."

Three weeks later, Favre signed with the Vikings.

If, at age 39, his shoulder healed enough for him to come back and lead Minnesota to a 12-4 record, a division title and nearly to a Super Bowl berth after he turned 40, why can’t the ankle come around, as well? Who’s to say once training camp breaks on Aug. 12, or after the Vikings’ second exhibition game 10 days later, that Favre won’t add another No. 4 to his resume — a fourth unretirement?

"Nah, I’m not buying it all, man," Cowboys receiver Patrick Crayton said. "They’ve still got, what, a month left in training camp? Give him about a week and a half, he’ll change his mind.

"Is that big news? It’s every year. It’s like Groundhog Day with him, isn’t it?"

Should Favre stick to this apparent farewell, he’ll leave the NFL holding virtually every record a quarterback can own, from the good (touchdown passes, yards passing, victories) to the bad (interceptions and sacks) to the sublime (285 straight starts). He’ll also leave the Vikings holding out hope that Tarvaris Jackson can finally prove himself at the position.

"It’s always back and forth with Brett," Jackson said. "It’s his decision. He deserves the opportunity to decide when he’s going to retire or not, whether he wants to retire or not."

Today, the decision is to call it quits. Tomorrow?

Stay tuned.

… and this time, he means it …

Brett Favre’s retirements and unretirements, an abridged history

» March 4: Retires after 17-year career, 16 with the Packers.

» March 6: At news conference at Lambeau Field: "I know I can play, but I don’t think I want to. It’s been a great career for me, but it’s over. As they say, all good things must come to an end. I look forward to whatever the future may hold for me."

» April 25: Placed on reserve-retired list; Packers plan to retire his No. 4 jersey in regular-season game against Vikings.

» June 20: Tells Packers coach Mike McCarthy he wants to come back: "When he picked up the phone again after he dropped it, he said, ‘Oh, God, Brett. You’re putting us in a tight spot. He said, ‘Brett, playing here is not an option.’"

» July 11: Requests release so he can return to NFL with another team: "The finality of his decision to retire was accepted by the organization. At that point, the Green Bay Packers made the commitment to move forward with our football team," reads team-issued statement.

» July 17: Vikings have no comment on allegations by Packers that they made inappropriate contact before or during his effort to unretire.

» Aug. 4: Returns to Packers after failing to come to financial agreement that would keep him retired.

» Aug. 6: Traded to New York Jets.

» Feb. 11: Retires after one season with Jets, claiming injured right shoulder is too sore after team misses playoffs. "It’s been a wonderful career, I couldn’t ask for anything more. It was worth a shot for me to go to New York. I wish I could’ve played better down the stretch. I didn’t. It’s time to leave."

» April 28: Released from reserve-retired list by Jets, making him a free agent.

» May 1: Vikings express interest.

» July 28: Calls Vikings coach Brad Childress and says he’s staying retired: "It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made."

» Aug. 18: Signs with Vikings: "You need to cross over that line. You need to take that chance. At 39 years old, your arm may not feel like it did at 21, but the pieces are in place here where you don’t have to do as much … "If they were willing to take that chance, I was, too."

» Oct. 5: Few games have been hyped as much as his first appearance against the Packers. Game in Minneapolis draws largest cable TV audience ever as he throws for three TDs and 271 yards in a 30-23 victory: "I don’t know how to explain it. I felt right, but I guess I never thought I’d be in that situation."

» Nov. 1: Favre’s first game as a visitor at Lambeau is a rousing success — four TDs in a 38-26 victory. A camera follows him the entire game that fans could watch on a webcast. "Hey Favre Halloween is over! Take off that silly purple costume," reads one sign.

» Jan. 24: Battered after leading Vikings to a 12-4 record and a playoff win, he throws a last-minute interception at New Orleans and Saints go on to win NFC title game in OT: "Just wondering if I can hold up, especially after a day like today. Physically and mentally."

» May 21: Confirms arthroscopic surgery on left ankle, a necessary step if he were to play again.

» Aug. 3: Tells Vikings he’s not returning.

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