EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — At the end of a long, difficult season, Brett Favre’s status for the finale is again in doubt.
After overcoming so many injuries and other personal adversity to play every week of his storied 20-year career, Favre has been too beat up to play in two of the last three games. He got knocked out of the other one.
The Vikings want him to give it one more try and start Sunday at Detroit, but by NFL concussion rules he first must be cleared by the team’s medical staff — and time is running out.
Interim coach Leslie Frazier said Thursday that Favre hadn’t passed the first stage of the standard post-concussion testing. There’s also a conditioning component to receiving clearance to return, if Favre can prove he’s symptom-free and functioning normally again.
“We’d love to see him play,” Frazier said. “There’s no question about that.”
Though he said he wouldn’t rule out Favre, Frazier also said Saturday would probably be the “cutoff” for Favre to pass the tests.
Favre has not been available to reporters since Dec. 20, when he made a surprise start on a sprained shoulder against Chicago, but got slammed to the cold turf during a sack by the Bears and left for good in the second quarter with the injury to his head.
“It was one of the few times that I kind of went blank there for a while in my career,” Favre said after the game.
He said, in explaining his decision that night to take the risk of playing, he wanted one more chance to play in front of Minnesota’s fans.
“It has been a great run,” Favre said. “I think my stubbornness, hardheadedness and stupidity at the time has enabled me to play for 20 years and play the way I’ve played. It’s just the way I’ve always approached it.”
He also said he’d be OK if his career ended that way.
“I hold no regrets,” Favre said.
The three-time NFL MVP and career record holder in nearly every major statistical category for passing has said repeatedly this 20th season in the league will be his last.
Though he’s infamously changed his mind about retirement twice before and came close to quitting this year until the Vikings persuaded him to return in mid-August, Favre has sure had the look of a guy who’s had enough.
His record of 297 straight regular-season starts was snapped two weeks ago when his shoulder didn’t heal in time to play against the New York Giants. Even before all the beating he’s taken this month, Favre had endured injuries to his ankle, chin, ribs, elbow and back.
So his teammates, whether he plays Sunday or not, are inspired to finish strong.
“It’s not the championship we wanted him to ride off on, but a win I think would send him off in a good way knowing all the other things he achieved,” wide receiver Percy Harvin said. “So we’ll play hard and try to get this win for him and try to get some momentum for our team going into this offseason.”
In a shortened week because of the snowstorm-delayed game at Philadelphia, the Vikings are preparing rookie Joe Webb for another start if Favre can’t go. He had an impressive performance against the Eagles, though he’s still trying to learn the offense while the coaches tailor it to his skills and mobility.
His poise in that game was what impressed the Vikings most.
“His first game was a little shaky, as far as calling the plays, but a lot of us forget the plays,” Harvin said. “But he was a commander in there. He was getting the line straight, telling the receivers where he was looking at, changing the snap count. … I can’t even sit here and say I expected it to be that way.”
Favre was fined $50,000 Wednesday by the NFL for failing to cooperate with its investigation of inappropriate messages and lewd photos he allegedly sent to former Jets game-day hostess Jenn Sterger.
After nearly three months of interviews, forensic analysis and further examination, the NFL said Commissioner Roger Goodell “could not conclude” that Favre violated the league’s personal conduct policy based on the evidence available to him.
Sterger’s representatives reiterated in an interview Thursday their frustration with the NFL’s handling of the situation.
“Fifty thousand dollars to the average working person is a lot of money,” her attorney, Joseph Conway, said. “But to Brett Favre, he makes that in three or four minutes. Here he consciously avoided cooperating with them for whatever reason and was rewarded for it. That just doesn’t make sense.”
Sterger’s manager, Phil Reese, said his client grew tired of waiting for a resolution.
“She was just like, ‘Do the right thing, do the wrong thing, just do something.’ They still didn’t do anything,” Reese said.
Frazier is still waiting, too, for word on his future, though he has consistently expressed a don’t-look-ahead mantra to the team and in public since taking over after the firing of Brad Childress.
Frazier, who has interviewed with seven NFL teams for head coaching openings in the past, said Thursday he’s in the process of setting up a formal meeting with lead owner Zygi Wilf and team president Mark Wilf about his candidacy for the permanent job.
“This is where I want to be. I want to be with the Minnesota Vikings,” Frazier said. “But the most important thing for me and our team right now is to find a way to go to Detroit and get a road win against a much improved football team, and that’s where my focus and energy has to be along with our players, our staff.”
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