Favre has informed the Vikings he will not return to Minnesota for a second season, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The 40-year-old Favre called coach Brad Childress to say his injured left ankle is not responding as well to surgery and rehabilitation as he had hoped, according to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had not made an official announcement.
Speaking to reporters after practice Tuesday, Childress wouldn't confirm Favre's status with the team, saying he could have a new message from the quarterback waiting for him.
The coach told reporters: "I'm not a big hearsay person. I gotta hear it from the horse's mouth."
With Favre, of course, nothing is ever necessarily final after 19 NFL seasons. He told the Vikings last year he wouldn't play, but changed his mind and joined them immediately after they broke training camp, with Childress even driving to the airport to pick him up. Camp this year ends on Aug. 12.
Favre has waffled on retiring every summer since 2006. It led to an ugly parting with the Packers that got him traded from Green Bay to the Jets in 2008. After a so-so season in New York, he announced his retirement in early 2009 for the second time, then reconsidered and signed with the Vikings.
He had one of his best seasons last year, with career bests in completion percentage (68.4), quarterback rating (107.2) and fewest interceptions (7), while throwing for 33 TDs and 4,202 yards to lead the Vikings to an NFC North title. He hurt his left ankle in the NFC championship game loss to the New Orleans Saints and had arthroscopic surgery in May.
Favre was under contract for $13 million this season, but only if he plays.
Nearly everyone had assumed Favre would return and he did nothing to discourage that. He threw passes for a second straight summer with high school students in Hattiesburg, Miss., joked about playing until he's 50 and said playing another year wouldn't worsen his already-damaged ankle.
Childress shrugged off all the questions and admitted he didn't know whether Favre would really come back. The Vikings didn't pursue a trade for Donovan McNabb and declined to select a quarterback of the future in the draft.
Still, Favre took a beating in the loss to the Saints and said afterward that he would not take long to make a decision on returning for the second year of his contract. As the months ticked by, Favre posted a statement on his website reminding everyone that his ankle problems didn't mean his career was over.
If Favre doesn't play next season - and if he decides to actually retire for good - it will end one of the most storied careers in NFL history.
A three-time league MVP (1995-97), Favre won Super Bowl XXXI with the Packers. His 11 Pro Bowl appearances are the most ever by a quarterback.
Indeed, Favre holds most major NFL records for a quarterback, including career touchdowns (497), yards passing (69,329); wins (181); and seasons with at least 3,000 yards passing (18).
Of course, he also has thrown the most interceptions (317) and been sacked 503 times - a long, long history of wear and tear.
Many of Favre's sacks came on scrambles, and so did the picks as he fearlessly tried to force the ball - underhanded, left-handed, whatever worked - where few, if any, could put it. He brought a sense of danger to the game and Vikings fans responded in droves. He was a classic gunslinger and has never minded the label.
"I would hope 20, 30 years from now, I'm remembered for something else besides records," Favre told The Associated Press in 2007, when the annual summer waffling was still sort of new. "Whether I have them or don't have them. If that's the only way I'm remembered, apparently I didn't do something right or leave a good enough impression on the fans.
"I know when I leave the game, I'm going to miss it. I know that. I'm not going to sit here and say, when I leave, it's over and I felt like I've done everything there is to do.
"I feel like I've given every ounce of energy I can give every single time I stepped on the field."