There are days Brett Favre walks off the field looking like “Mayhem” from the All-State insurance commercials. On Sunday, the 20-year veteran didn’t even make it to the end of the game.
On his first pass, Favre was leveled to the ground and knocked out of the game with a sprained sternoclavicular joint in his throwing shoulder. Cue the Groundhog’s Day script. Reporters were back at Winter Park on a Wednesday asking questions about whether Favre will play on Sunday … which would only be his ongoing NFL-record 298th consecutive regular-season start.
The rambling Favre may have summarized his injury history best in just one sentence: “I've beaten the odds so many times.”
Still, while Favre obviously has pride in the streak, he continues to say he won’t make a decision that hurts his team.
“My only reasonings for wanting to play is to help this team win and if I don't feel like I can do that ... I would want to play the whole game,” he said Wednesday. “As I said after the game Sunday and I've said prior to this past week that I want to see this through and that means game and season. But I also don't want to jeopardize the team by just doing it for selfish reasons and I wouldn't do that.”
Favre has already played through numerous aches and pains, most of them showing up on the injury reports throughout the first 12 weeks of the season. From the shot he took to the chin against the New England Patriots that also knocked him out of the game at the sight of his own blood, to a stiff neck, to an aching throwing shoulder earlier in the year related to his 2009 biceps surgery, to tendinitis in his right elbow to a black and blue calf, to a stress fracture in his left ankle, to an avulsion fracture in his left heel, Favre’s 41-year-old body has felt pain from top to bottom this year. Officially, the latest injury appears as “chest” on Wednesday’s injury report.
Each injury brings its own set of challenges.
“It's a little different. I've had bruised shoulders and things like that before, but this is in a different spot,” Favre said. “I obviously haven't tried to throw or anything like that so the range of motion is where most of the pain is."
He didn’t participate in practice Wednesday and started out lurking on the defensive side of the field while coaching receivers who were running routes for backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson and practice-squad quarterback R.J. Archer, who was signed Tuesday.
Despite being only three games away from reaching the milestone of 300 consecutive starts, Favre insists that factors into other people’s minds more than his line of thinking when making a decision on his playing status.
“It really plays more into I think everyone else's way of thinking as opposed to mine. It really hasn't crossed my mind this week that I've got to get out there to keep the streak going. I think the most important streak right now is we've won two in a row,” he said.
Interim head coach Leslie Frazier said Favre wouldn’t throw until Thursday and he hoped to make a determination by Friday, although it’s more likely to be held private until hours before Sunday’s game. He’ll rely on a combination of the medical reports, what he sees out of Favre in practice and what Favre is telling him.
“You can’t take the medical staff out of the equation. They are a very important part of this decision and so I’ll rely heavily on their opinion, along with what we see in practice,” Frazier said. “If he can’t function, it’s not a hard decision, regardless of what Brett says in that regard. It’ll be a combination of the medical staff, what we see with Brett and how he feels as well. We’ll combine those and make a decision.”
Favre said he wouldn’t go into Sunday looking to extend his consecutive-starts streak while wondering if he could make it through the entire game.
“If I'm going to play, we're playing the game like we normally do. I would not approach it Sunday and say, 'I think I can do it, Leslie. Don't know how long I'll last,'” Favre said. “I could say that every week. Every player could say that. I have to approach it, and I will, as if you're going to get hit, you're going to play four quarters, it's going to be tough, but you can do it. That's the only way I'm going to approach it.
He also wants to be sure he can make all the necessary throws, although he admitted it’s possible he might not have the same velocity on his passes. When he played with a partially torn biceps tendon in his throwing shoulder at the end the New York Jets’ 2008 season, his accuracy suffered. He didn’t register a passer rating above 62 in any of his final five games with the Jets.
“I feel like in this case, if I feel I can play, in my mind, at a high enough level to help this team win I'll do it. Now we may be sitting there after the game saying, maybe he should've sat,” he said. “It's easier in hindsight to do that, but to try and make that decision is always a tough one.”
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.