Brett Favre on future: 'I won't play again if I can't feel my hand'
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There was no decision to make. The Minnesota Vikings' legendarily durable quarterback simply couldn't play.
Numbness in Favre's throwing arm from the shoulder to the hand persisted into Monday, and after a short conversation with Frazier in the locker room, Favre's name was on the inactive list for the first time in nearly two decades.
"It was day to day, but it came down to (Monday)," Favre said late Monday night, shortly after the New York Giants blew out the Vikings and his replacement, Tarvaris Jackson, 21-3 at Ford Field.
"Really was not able to do anything this week. That's not the first time in my career that's happened, but this really, based on numbness and during the game, same thing -- just tingling and really nothing to shoot up, not to mention that that's kind of tricky. I've played through a lot of stuff, but I think ... this is something different that I have to be more cautious of."
Favre, 41, expects to have further tests on Tuesday to determine the cause of the numbness, which he revealed for the first time showed up early in the Vikings' game on Nov. 28 at Washington.
The sprained sternoclavicular joint Favre suffered one week later against Buffalo only exacerbated the issue. A planned pregame throwing session on Monday never happened, and Favre's right hand was visibly discolored and swollen as he stood on the sideline in black sweats and a stocking cap.
"The first thing I was noticed when I was hit last week (and) came off the field was I didn't feel anything in my shoulder, in my arm," Favre said. "That's not uncommon with a pinched nerve, but I had felt the same thing previously, and I think it was more or less kind of a freak thing that happened two weeks in a row. So, there's probably some trauma to that nerve and again, that hit last week just kind of aggravated it again."
It was enough to end his record streak of 297 consecutive starts (321 including playoffs) that dated to Sept. 20, 1992, when Favre made his first NFL start with the Green Bay Packers. And it also casts doubt on whether Favre will play again in his disappointing 20th season, which he has said repeatedly is his last.
"There's a little pain, but that's subsided some," Favre said. "It's this tingling. So, I think it would be foolish to even consider playing if you don't have total feeling in five fingers."
Asked about his emotions in sitting out, Favre said, "Relief in one sense, that there wasn't a whole lot of pressure on me (Monday). It was different. It's been a long time. I'd much rather be playing, and that's just my nature, but it was -- I don't want to say it was time, but it's probably been long overdue. There's probably been a lot of times that the streak should have ended. It wasn't really a flood of emotions. Just couldn't play. I didn't feel like I could function good enough."
Neither could Jackson, who finished 15-of-30 passing for 118 yards, an interception and a 46.2 passer rating while leaving the game at three different points with injuries.
"I really didn't know what to expect," Jackson said. "I just prepared the whole week like I was going to play."
Depending what tests show on Favre's health, Frazier may face the choice of finishing out the season with Jackson or rookie Joe Webb, who completed 2 of 5 passes in relief on Monday.
"Like to try to get him back if we can, but who knows?" Frazier said of the possibility of placing Favre on injured reserve. "That may be a possibility. I'm hoping not. I'm hoping we can get him back."
Favre said he hasn't thought that far ahead, though he made clear that "I won't play again if I can't feel my hand." The end of a streak that has spanned, and in some ways defined, his entire career was enough to keep Favre's mind occupied.
"I guess in some sort of way, I expected it for some time, probably like all of us," Favre said. "It was like, 'Woof, he's played another game, he's played another game.' I have no idea. It's unfortunate that we're out of this playoff race. But I'll just see how I feel this week and go from there."