Source believes Favre may have had surgery

Brett Favre (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty)

As with everything surrounding Brett Favre's future, concrete information is hard to come by, but there is at least one source that was told enough to believe Favre had surgery in the last 48 hours.

The Brett Favre speculation took an interesting turn Thursday, as Viking Update has been told that Favre may have already had the ankle surgery needed to return to the Vikings for the 2010 season.

As most fans know, getting confirmation on anything Favre-related is a difficult proposition at best. Favre isn't talking. Agent Bus Cook refused to confirm anything surgery-related with Favre last year, and the Vikings don't talk about offseason injury information.

But, VU is tracking a different angle to this story. A fellow professional athlete, whose family requested that he remain anonymous, is a patient of Dr. Andrews and has had surgery performed by the famous surgeon, who has been the go-to doctor for athletes in all major professional sports. The player, who has had a prolonged relationship with Dr. Andrews and his staff, called his Alabama clinic Thursday morning to set up an appointment.

He was informed that Dr. Andrews was out of town this week and, as part of that conversation, was told that Dr. Andrews was "in Mississippi working with an old quarterback" this week to perform a procedure on a client.

When contacted for confirmation of Dr. Andrews' visit to Mississippi, VU was referred to Lanier Johnson. Johnson, executive director of the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Ala. and a colleague of Andrews, said that, due to requirements of the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Dr. Andrews is precluded from providing personal confirmation.

"He can't make any comment concerning a patient due to the HIPAA regulations," Johnson said. "Any such comments need to be made by the patient and, in this instance (a professional athlete like Favre), it would have to come from him or his agent or the team. The regulations are the same whether you're a professional athlete or someone who is unknown, so we can't make any comment on those kinds of questions."

Johnson said that Andrews is out of the office until next week and is attending the annual conference of the Arthroscopy Association of North America being held at the Westin Resort in Hollywood, Fla. Andrews is one of four surgeons scheduled to oversee an instructional course for other surgeons – "Shoulder Stabilization: Anterior, Posterior, MDI & Bone Loss" – Friday at the AANA conference.

A phone call seeking comment from Favre's agent, Bus Cook, was not returned Thursday.

While no confirmation was provided on the Favre side of the equation, the timing of the surgery would make sense if it has happened this week. Dr. Sachin Patel, an orthopedic surgeon at the Casa Colina Centers for Rehabilitation in Pomona, Calif., was a guest on the NFL Network earlier this month to discuss a potential timetable for any surgery Favre might seek to have on his injured left ankle.

Dr. Patel admitted that he hasn't seen Favre's medical records, but going off media reports that claimed (including Favre's official website) that the ankle wouldn't require major surgery to repair the injury, there is a relatively standard timeline for recovery from such an operation.

"The assumption is that (procedure) is a washout," Patel said. "It's an outpatient procedure typically and the recovery for it is really four to six weeks."

Patel added that it would take another month for Favre to "be aggressive on his ankle." If proved accurate, giving a six-week recovery timeframe, Favre would be able to fully test his ankle in late July. Such a timetable would have Favre on track to return to the Vikings in mid-August, as he did last year.

In a statement made last month by Favre after ESPN reports claimed that he would require surgery, he released the following statement: "I don't believe major surgery on the ankle would be required for me to return in 2010. I've consulted with Dr. Andrews on the phone and a relatively minor procedure could be done to improve the dexterity of the ankle and to relieve the pain. I've put up with pain with than this in my career and I don't anyone to assume that the possibility of surgery was the sole factor that would determine whether I return or not. Some people reacting to the ESPN story have made this assumption. I don't blame them for doing so, given that the term ‘surgery' often covers a variety of procedures, some more complex than others."

With an information lockdown in the Favre camp, official confirmation could be hard to come by in the coming days or even weeks. A similar scenario played itself out last year when Favre needed surgery to alleviate pain resulting from a partially torn biceps tendon. By the time it became public that he had undergone the surgery, it was two weeks after the fact. The same potential exists with this scenario.

This may end up being just another in the long list of rumors and potential stories on this matter, but few people have the access to the inner workings of Dr. Andrews office as the athlete who was the source of this information. He knows what he was told. We may have to wait some time to get official confirmation, but, for those Vikings fans (and players and coaches) who are trying to convince Favre to return for another season, this bit of inside information gives more hope that his return is in the works.


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for 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.

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