Brett Favre walked to the podium wearing his usual baseball cap and workout shorts, taking a quick gulp of water to chase the peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich he was trying to wolf down.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Brett Favre walked to the podium wearing his usual baseball cap and workout shorts, taking a quick gulp of water to chase the peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich he was trying to wolf down.
Yes, the old quarterback sure seemed to be living in the moment on Wednesday, as preparations for the weekend playoff game against Dallas ramped up for Favre and the Minnesota Vikings. He was gregarious, expressing excitement about his 23rd postseason appearance and the possibility of returning to a Super Bowl with his new team.
"That's the only reason I came back," Favre said.
So will he come back — again? That's always the question with the NFL's all-time leading passer.
He's under contract for another year, after all. Plus, adding 33 touchdown passes to just seven interceptions this season equals an awfully effective 40-year-old.
If Favre has already been wrestling with his decision about the 2010 season, he's not letting on.
"Honestly, I see us sitting here next week having this press conference again," Favre said, anticipating a Vikings victory over the Cowboys and an advancement to the NFC championship game. "If that doesn't happen, to me it will be a shock. So I just haven't thought about what next year will be like, or what I will be doing next week."
One question about Favre's future was prefaced by reports that Arizona's Kurt Warner, who's 38, will retire after the season.
"Waffling? Is he waffling?" Favre said, flashing his familiarly mischievous grin as he poked fun at his infamous indecisiveness.
Favre, though, wouldn't honor attempts to get him to offer any clues about his desire to return.
"Good try. Why not try?" he said. "You know what? All I want to do is beat Dallas. To even think about next year is doing myself an injustice, and this team."
Favre went home with his family to Mississippi during a welcomed week off, while the Cowboys beat the Philadelphia Eagles to advance. He stopped short of claiming to be fully recharged — he has often spoken of both mental and physical fatigue at this stage of a season — but was clearly refreshed from the days away from the practice facility.
"You can't completely get away from it, but I was just more focused on just getting away mentally," Favre said. "No stress for a while."
Favre's age prompted a joke from Cowboys coach Wade Phillips, wrapped in an assessment of Minnesota's success at completing rollout throws with its old passer.
"They do move him around a little bit, surprisingly," Phillips said. "Most quarterbacks at our age don't move around that much, but he still moves around well."
Phillips has beaten Favre before, in 2007 with Dallas and also after the 2002 season when he was Atlanta's defensive coordinator. Michael Vick and the Falcons went to Green Bay in the first round and handed the Packers their first playoff loss at Lambeau Field.
Don't think Phillips was about to crow about that, though.
"He's had so many big games and won so many big games, put the team on his back so many times," Phillips said. "He just has great experience, and everybody has seen what a great player he is. And he's come back and played probably just as well as he ever played this year. So he's in top form."
Favre wondered aloud in August whether he'd make it through all 16 games, especially uncertain about his surgically repaired right arm. He took his share of hits, but he didn't show any glaring signs of wearing down. Coach Brad Childress has said he's made all the throws he's needed to make, and Favre has said his arm feels as good as it has in awhile.
As the players reconvened this week, the Vikings had a little extra pep in their step from the rest and the promise of the biggest game of this Favre-fueled season.
"I can see a spunkiness," Childress said, "which is what you want this time of year. Guys that are bright-eyed, mentally and physically."
Another of the elders who benefited from the bye was cornerback Antoine Winfield, who aggravated the right foot injury that cost him 61/2; games when he returned on Dec. 13 and was not at full speed down the stretch.
The Vikings reduced his role in the regular season finale against the New York Giants, essentially making him the nickel back so he could play the slot position, but Childress said the plan this week is to play Winfield "some" on the outside where he usually lines up.
"He seems to be pretty comfortable," Childress said.
Though he won't be at full strength until the summer, Winfield was in good spirits after Wednesday's practice, reporting progress with his recovery.
"I think it helped having the time off, staying off the foot," he said. "It felt good today. I went out there and took all the reps. I'm looking forward to getting out there and playing on Sunday."