But who would bet against Minnesota’s 41-year-old quarterback? Whether it’s reckless pride, simple determination or an exceptional tolerance of pain, he’s played through all kinds of pain—including a broken thumb in 2003 and a badly sprained foot in 2000—and never sat out.
His NFL-record streak is at 291 consecutive games started, 315 including the playoffs. Naturally, Favre is not ruling himself out of Sunday’s game at New England despite two fractures in his left ankle.
“I would love to play, for no other reason but I’m in this, committed to this team,” Favre said. “I’d love to get this back on track and be a part of it, and more than anything function at a level that gives us a chance to win. That’s basically it.”
Favre said he won’t consider participating in any part of practice until Friday. He spent Wednesday in the training room, joining his teammates for their post-practice huddle and walking off the field wearing the boot, shorts, a sweatshirt and a Twins cap.
He’s always had a knack for healing quickly, which gives him hope he’ll be back when the Vikings (2-4) play the Patriots (5-1). If he can’t go, Tarvaris Jackson will take over.
Coach Brad Childress kept the option open, too.
“I wouldn’t put it past him. He’s going to make the push, like a lot of these guys do,” Childress said.
Favre insisted he’d put aside the streak for the sake of the team.
“It probably should have ended a long time ago,” Favre said, adding: “Whether it ends this week or it ends at the end of the year, it ends, and I will always be proud of it.”
Childress, too, said he wouldn’t factor the ironman record as part of the final decision on whether Favre will play, but the coach was adamant that he won’t let him go out there if he looks gimpy.
“I’m going to need to see some movement skills, to see that he can do that,” Childress said.
Favre was hurt in Sunday’s loss at Green Bay, and an MRI revealed a stress fracture in the ankle as well as an avulsion fracture in the heel bone, where a fragment has been torn away by a tendon or ligament. He doesn’t need surgery, and he said after consulting with doctors he’s confident he can’t make the injury worse by playing.
Favre said he trusts his own ability to properly judge his health.
“Mentally I think I can do it. I’ve done it before. Will it hurt? I’m sure it will,” he said, adding: “I know I’ll keep an open mind about it and be smart about it. I don’t want to go out and play just to play.”
When asked what the streak means to him, Favre, in typical contradictory fashion, touted his own feat and express team-first humility all in the same paragraph.
“All I can say is ‘Wow,”’ he said. “I kind of lost count a long time ago. … If I’m able to play, I want to play the whole game and give us a chance to win.”
As for working with Childress on the decision, Favre said: “He’s the head coach. He makes those decisions, but I would think it’ll be an open-dialogue deal.”
Favre is also the subject of an NFL investigation into allegations that he sent lewd photographs and suggestive messages to a female New Yok Jests employee in 2008, a development that first put his streak in danger with the possibility of a suspension under the league’s personal conduct policy.
But Favre said the injury hasn’t made him consider retiring now and that he’s fully committed to finishing the season.
“This could easily be an injury where I could where I could say, ‘I’m going to slip under the radar. See you later. Easy out,”’ Favre said. “And people may think that. I want to play, and I want to help this team win. I owe that to the guys. I owe that to myself. … I just want to help this team get back on track. That’s what I came here for. For no other reason.”
As he has throughout most of the last month, facing questions about the allegations and the investigation, Favre appeared at ease at the podium and tried to keep the mood light.
When asked about ability to tolerate pain, Favre quipped, “Either that, or I’m just completely a knucklehead, which a lot of people would probably agree with.”
Favre also pointed to his father’s gruff approach to coaching his youth football and baseball teams as he traced back the root of his toughness.
“You fall down, you start crying, you want attention,” Favre said. “I never got it from him. It was, ‘You’re not hurt.’ And 99 percent of the time he was right. And I just learned that you just get up and you play with it. That’s just the way I was brought up and raised.”
There’s also the issue of a fissure between Favre and Childress over the way the offense is run. After the coach said on Monday they’re “absolutely” on the same page, the quarterback didn’t exactly offer a ringing endorsement on Wednesday of their relationship.
“I think we’ve been able to talk about things, but we don’t necessarily agree,” Favre said. “But I think that’s part of it. I think both of our intentions are to win. We’ve got to get this on track. We know that. How we get there remains to be seen. As long as we’re both focused on the right prize, that’s all that matters. … I know what’s expected of me. I don’t need him or anyone else to tell me that.”