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Favre says he’ll play if healthy

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The latest development in the Brett Favre retirement drama came yesterday, from Favre himself.

In Hattiesburg, Miss., Favre told ESPN’s Ed Werder that he would play for the Minnesota Vikings this season if his surgically repaired left ankle was sound, but that the ankle remained problematic. The Vikings’ offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell, who coached Favre with the Green Bay Packers and speaks with him regularly, said Favre had told him the same thing.

"That is what I have been getting all along," Bevell said after the morning workout at the Vikings’ training camp in Mankato, Minn.

Favre denied sending text messages to Vikings teammates and club officials Monday indicating that he planned to retire. That contradicted multiple reports as well as Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, who told reporters that several teammates received such messages, although he said he never got one.

Favre spoke after assisting the Oak Grove High School football team at a morning practice; he often works out with the team to get in shape. Favre said he had a general idea of when he would decide about playing, a timeframe he said he shared with the Vikings but declined to tell ESPN.

Bevell said any timetable was up to Vikings coach Brad Childress and Favre.

The retirement rumors jolted Vikings management, which banked on Favre’s return to sell tickets and help its bid for a new stadium. The Star Tribune in Minnesota reported yesterday that the Vikings offered to raise Favre’s guaranteed salary this season to $16 million from $13 million, with incentives for up to $20 million. Favre told Werder, "It’s not about the money."


‘Big Hands’ dies at 57

The San Diego Chargers say former defensive lineman Gary "Big Hands" Johnson has died. He was 57.

Chargers spokesman Bill Johnston says Johnson’s son, Gary Jr., confirmed his father’s death Wednesday at LSU Hospital in Shreveport, La., just more than two weeks after suffering a stroke.


Coming and going

» Even though he has to sit out the first month of the season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, LenDale White is getting another chance thanks to the Denver’s banged-up backfield. The team signed White to provide depth after Correll Buckhalter (back) and Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) were injured on the first day of training camp.

» Calling it "the fair thing to do," the Buffalo Bills released top pass-rusher Aaron Schobel yesterday, providing the veteran linebacker the opportunity to sign with another team or retire. The move comes two days after general manager Buddy Nix said the team was moving on without Schobel, who spent the offseason contemplating retirement.

» San Diego Chargers rookie linebacker Donald Butler, a third-round pick out of Washington, will miss the entire season after sustaining an Achilles’ tendon injury.

» Miami Dolphins kick returner Kory Sheets tore his right Achilles’ tendon in practice yesterday and is out for the season. Sheets was waived hours later.


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