EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Part of me wants to be suitably impressed that Brett Favre would even consider playing Sunday with a sprained SC joint near his right shoulder. On top of two still-healing fractures in his left foot. On top of elbow tendinitis and with a 10-stitch scar on his chin as a reminder of one of the many brutal hits he has absorbed this season.
The rest of me wants to exclaim: What in the name of Y.A. Tittle are you doing to yourself?
Some of you historians might remember Tittle as a Hall of Fame quarterback who played his last four seasons with the New York Giants. He was also the subject of an iconic 1964 photograph. The shot depicts Tittle, 38, as bloodied, dazed and sitting on his knees after a hit that cracked his sternum and gave him a concussion.
Tittle, of course, played out the rest of the season as the Giants finished 2-10-2, throwing 10 touchdown passes against 22 interceptions before announcing his retirement. The photograph became a paradigm for the unceremonious end to a Hall of Fame career.
I couldn't stop thinking about it Wednesday as Favre, for what seems to be the 14th week this season, detailed how he hoped to navigate his injury and somehow start Sunday's game against the Giants. At some point you have to wonder: When will enough be enough? Is all of this really necessary?
Is there no point where you set aside toughness and accept your football mortality? How many times must you be helped off the field before you realize the impact of the beating you've taken on your long-term health?
That's the question I was most curious about when Favre took the podium Wednesday. We all know why he is trying to play. It's what he has always done. But I think we can all agree that Favre has taken some of the most brutal hits of his career this season. Two that come to mind: Getting planted last Sunday by Buffalo Bills linebacker Arthur Moats and the Oct. 31 chin shot from New England Patriots defensive lineman Myron Pryor.
Does a 41-year-old man, and new grandfather, worry about subjecting himself to such abuse? Does he think his age, combined with his now-limited mobility, have played a role in the punishment?
Favre said he has been thinking about that "for the last few years" and that it's "crossed my mind once or twice" this season.
"I think had I not played this year, I was still going to feel the 19 years I've played for many years to come," he said. "I probably haven't helped myself too much this year. But you know, I chose to play. It's part of it. As an older player, you find it harder, as we all do, to recover from certain injuries. But that's the price you pay."
And that's the bottom line, I guess. If you decide to play football at age 41 -- and earn $16 million doing so -- you might take a pounding. It's part of the gig. But golly, we're starting to get to Y. A. Tittle territory here -- beaten, bloodied and refusing to accept it.