GREEN BAY, Wis. — After flirting with retirement for years, Brett Favre means it this time. The Packers quarterback ended a 17-season career marked by grit, heart and a rocket of an arm.
"I know I can still play, but it's like I told my wife, I'm just tired mentally. I'm just tired," Favre told ESPN's Chris Mortensen in a voice mail message. "If I felt like coming back — and Deanna (Favre's wife) and I talked about this — the only way for me to be successful would be to win a Super Bowl. To go to the Super Bowl and lose, would almost be worse than anything else."
Tuesday's surprise move comes after the 38-year-old three-time MVP set several league records, including career touchdown passes, in one of his best seasons. Coach Mike McCarthy said Favre told him of the decision by telephone Monday night.
"He said it was time for him to hang up the cleats," McCarthy said.
"Nobody pushed Brett Favre out the door, but then nobody encouraged him not to go out that door, either," said Favre's agent, Bus Cook.
Last season, Favre broke Dan Marino's career records for touchdown passes and yards passing and John Elway's record for career victories by a starting quarterback. He has 5,377 completions in 8,758 attempts for 61,655 yards, 442 touchdowns and 288 interceptions.
"I think this announcement comes about 17 years too late and I don't know if I will completely believe it until Green Bay opens the season without No. 4 lining up under center,'' Bears coach and former Bucs assistant Lovie Smith said. "In all seriousness, no one has given more to our game than Brett Favre. There is no player I respect more."
Hall of Fame quarterback and Fox analyst Troy Aikman said: "As the season gets closer, I wouldn't be surprised at all if he changes his mind.''
In his final season, Favre extended his quarterback record streak of consecutive regular-season starts to 253 games. Add the playoffs, and Favre's streak stands at 275.
"I feel sorry for the fans who are 19, 20, 21 who don't know any other quarterback because he has been the only one," said Packers fan Doug Kaiser, 63, a Green Bay resident. "It is going to be hard for them to think, 'Oh, Aaron Rodgers. He's our man.' "
Said fan Herman Reckelberg, 80, as he sat by himself at Lambeau Field: "He sure has given us many thrilling afternoons out here at the stadium."
Packers GM Ted Thompson said the team owes Favre "a tremendous debt of gratitude. The uniqueness of Brett Favre his personality, charisma and love of the game — undoubtedly will leave him as one of the enduring figures in NFL history."