Brett Favre returns to the Vikings

Captain Comeback (and back, and back …) has returned to the Minnesota Vikings.

Quarterback Brett Favre, who will turn 41 in October and became a grandfather in April, opened the newest chapter of his NFL career Wednesday with his annual “I’m back” news conference. This will be his 20th season.

“I owe it to this organization to give it one more try,” the quarterback told a roomful of reporters at Vikings headquarters, officially capping the latest “Favre Watch.” That question — will he return? — took root the moment Minnesota lost in overtime at New Orleans in the NFC championship game in January.

The decision hinged on the health of Favre’s ankle, injured in that game and surgically repaired in the off-season. This month, he told some teammates and team officials that he didn’t think he felt good enough to come back. That was a blow — albeit not a stunning one — to an otherwise very talented team with ho-hum quarterbacks Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels on the roster.

“This is a very good football team,” Favre said. “The chances [of winning a Super Bowl] are much greater than other places.”

But the Vikings didn’t give up. They sent three of Favre’s closest friends on the team — kicker Ryan Longwell, guard Steve Hutchinson and defensive end Jared Allen — to Favre’s hometown of Hattiesburg, Miss., to ask him to return for one last Super Bowl run. The trio traveled on the purple-and-gold-trimmed jet of team owner Zygi Wilf, and it was that plane that delivered Favre back to Minnesota on Tuesday.

“The way it was described to me when those guys came back and sat in my office was it was good cop, bad cop, funny cop,” Coach Brad Childress said. “A voice of reason, a voice of the hammer, and then some levity in the group. Those guys may have a future down the road as a team.”

More important to Childress is the team he now has, one that is largely intact and statistically dominated the Saints in the conference title game, but for five Minnesota turnovers.

“If we had gone 8-8, it would have been a no-brainer,” Favre said. “They would have said, ‘Brett, enjoyed having you. It was great. It’s time for us to move on, as well as you.’ But that didn’t happen. We came very close to the Super Bowl.

“And I think had we won that championship game, they would have been saying it was destiny for the Vikings. It was meant to be.”

Unlike his disappointing results a year earlier with the New York Jets, Favre had a phenomenal season with the Vikings that included 33 touchdowns, only seven interceptions — 10 fewer than his average as a starter — and a career-best passer rating of 107.2.

“As magical a year as it was, and as proud as I should have been, all I could think about was I was so close, so close to getting these guys to the Super Bowl. I just kept thinking [that] even though I don’t owe them something … maybe I should try to give it one more try.”

Physically, he was better off last summer, and not just because he was a year younger. He said his throwing arm felt great after surgery before last season, as if he was 21 again. As his doctors warned him, however, his ankle didn’t respond nearly as well.

“I’m not going to break any 40 [-yard dash] records, I can promise you that,” he said. “But I still feel like my footwork in the pocket is as good as any. Being able to throw from really awkward positions in the pocket. I really feel like I’m going to move around a little bit more. …

“Do I just think I can do it and physically can’t? That’s a major question, and one that only I can answer.”