Vikings in trouble? Brett Favre now leaning towards retirement.

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 24: A fan in the stands holds up a Green Bay Packers #4 jersey as Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings walks off the field after the Vikings lost to the New Orleans Saints 31-28 in overtime during the NFC Championship Game at the Louisiana Superdome on January 24, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

When training camp rolled around last year, Vikings head coach Brad Childress was fully prepared to head into the season with either Sage Rosenfels or Tarvaris Jackson as his starting quarterback.

Let’s hope he still feels that way.

Judd Zulgad of the Minnesota Star-Tribune reports via his Twitter page that Brett Favre began telling Vikings officials last night that he will not return for a 20th season. Apparently Favre’s ankle has not responded the way he had hoped and he is now leaning towards retirement.

First and foremost, if Favre has been honest with the Vikings about his ankle this entire time, then there’s nothing more the team or Childress could expect from Brett. Both Childress and Favre have stated this entire time that they didn’t know what would happen and neither of them said either way whether or not he would return for another season.

That said, the cynic in me wonders if Favre led Childress and the Vikings to believe that he would return. For a guy that went to great lengths to make sure he didn’t hand the job to Jackson last offseason (including trading for Rosenfels and completely avoiding giving Jackson any encouragement through the media), Childress has been awfully calm about his quarterback position this offseason. Is he really fine with heading into the season with either Jackson or Rosenfels? Or had he known that Favre wasn’t coming back, would he have gotten another quarterback at some point over the last couple of months (either in free agency or the draft)?

Granted, this is Brett Favre we’re talking about. This is a man that absolutely despises training camp and will stop at nothing (including tormenting the media with his annual retirement dance) to avoid it. Jackson could be lining up to take his first snap under center in Week 1 and Favre could come running out of the tunnel to proclaim his return.

You just can’t put anything past him.

However, if Zulgad’s report holds true and Favre doesn’t come back, then the Vikings could be in a world of hurt. They still have Adrian Peterson, a solid offensive line and an outstanding front seven on defense, but without Favre and the threat of an efficient passing game, opponents will just stack the box to take away AP. Plus, Don Banks of SI.com reported yesterday that two of three hip specialists recommended that Sidney Rice have surgery in the offseason, which he never did. If Rice is hobbled, the Vikes’ passing game would take yet another huge hit.

Again, we just have to wait and see what happens. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if three weeks from now the media started reporting that Favre was coming back. Training camp will have wound down by then and maybe his ankle will start feeling better too. (I’m sure Childress would literally rip his own soul out of his body for Brett to return, so that’s an option as well.)

But if he doesn’t return, then the entire landscape in the NFC North changes. The Packers already proved last year that they were serious threats to the Vikings. Without Favre in Minnesota, Green Bay would become the favorites to take over the division.

Update: Childress, in the denial stage of grief, has reiterated to the media that Favre has not told him he’s retiring.

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