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posted: 1/25/2010 12:01 AM

It's time again for Brett Favre to think ahead

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No wonder Brett Favre always has so much difficulty deciding whether to retire from football or play another season or two or three.

All the pros and cons were out there on the Superdome turf for everybody to see during the NFC championship game Sunday.

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On the one hand was the exhilaration of competing at football's highest level. On the other was the beating a quarterback endures.

On the one hand was the touchdown pass Favre threw. On the other were the 2 interceptions he threw.

On the one hand was the sniff of victory. On the other was the stench of defeat.

Yes, the highs make it worth playing as long as possible. The question is whether the lows are worth the considerable investment.

Favre can begin the decision-making process all over again this morning because his season is finished, if not complete.

The Saints beat the Vikings 31-28 in overtime, leaving Favre 1 play, 1 completion, 1 first down, 1 turnover, 1 victory short of the Super Bowl.

"In a situation like this, you don't want to make a decision based on what happened," Favre said of retirement. "Especially after a game that draining."

Maybe helping Favre decide will be the video clips of his wife with her hands over her eyes after he received another violent hit.

"I've felt better," Favre said afterward. "It was a physical game. But if you win you sure feel better."

Favre had a great season individually, one of the best of his 19-year NFL career and 40 years on the planet.

But Brett Favre didn't come back to have a great season. He came back to play in his third Super Bowl and win his second NFL championship.

Favre certainly didn't come back to throw the interception that cost Minnesota a chance to win in the final minute of regulation. Nor did he come back to play much of the second half on a gimpy ankle.

Nobody should feel sorry for Favre, not for getting beat or for getting beat up or for having to make the play-or-not decision at least one more time.

This is a big boy. Actually he's a grown man. He didn't have to come back. He selfishly did what athletes do - what was in his own best interest - when he went to Green Bay rival Minnesota.

Favre's playing career has been so admirable, all the passing records and the consecutive-games streak and the youthful enthusiasm even in middle age.

But it's still difficult to understand how Favre could agree to play - insist on playing - for a team Packers fans who loved him have such contempt for.

Anyway, now it'll be interesting again to see how long it takes Favre to decide whether to exchange a uniform for overalls and football for the farm.

"It's hard to even think about anything but the loss," Favre said. "I might wake up tomorrow and - but who knows? I'm going to go home and talk it over with the family."

The sport is so addictive - even the pain is - and there's no Football Anonymous to help a player decide when enough is enough.

Only Brett Favre will be able to determine that, whether it be sooner than later or later than sooner.

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