Brett Favre won't return unless he has surgery

Brett Favre's ankle bites

Brett Favre's ankle bites

Those 40-year-old grandpa joints just ain't what they used to be.

ESPN is reporting that the only way Brett Favre could return at QB for the Vikings in the 2010 season is if he has surgery on his left ankle -- the one that took a hammering during the Vikes' heartbreaking NFC Championship Game loss against the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome.

But will he?

Here we go again, getting strung along by one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game.

In an e-mail to ESPN, Favre talked about the doctor's orders, and what he might do next:

"We have spoken,'' Favre said in an e-mail. "To play again, I would need the surgery, as I suspected. This decision would be easy if not for my teammates and the fans and the entire Vikings staff. One year truly felt like 10 -- much like Green Bay for many years. That's what I was missing in my heart I suppose, a sense of belonging.''

Later he e-mailed WCCO with more details. It says in part:

I don't believe major surgery on the ankle would be required for me to return in 2010. I've consulted with Dr. Andrews on the phone, and a relatively minor procedure could be done to improve the dexterity of the ankle, and to relieve the pain. I've put up with pain worse than this in my career, and I didn't want anyone to assume that the possibility of surgery was the sole factor that would determine whether I return or not. Some people reacting to the ESPN story have made this assumption. I don't blame them for doing so, given that the term "surgery" often covers a variety of procedures, some more complex than others.

The ankle pain is a factor, but one of many factors that I'll need to consider in making my decision. Other factors include the input of my family, and the wonderful experience that I had last year with the Vikings ...

Favre would turn 41 next season ... if he returns.