They warned us. Remember?
The embedded Packers fans amongst us warned us that Brett Favre would break our hearts, whether on the field of play or in the absurd theater of his mind. He would throw the killing interception when you least wanted or expected it, would turn our summers into melodramas that teased, then annoyed, then infuriated us.
Could they have been more right? Could they have asked for any more reason to say, "I told you so?"
From mid-August through early January last season, Favre gave us the most remarkable season of any quarterback in franchise history and the most efficient season of his stunning career.
If we dare take him seriously amid his latest threats of retirement -- and history tells us we should not -- he will have devastated a franchise that treated him with deference and reverence and betrayed the trust of his teammates and coaches.
He will have done so in just the manner Packers fans predicted, by throwing an inexplicable, championship-losing interception on his final play in purple, then turning his decision on retirement into a sad serial of self-indulgence.
If he indeed retires, he would no longer be the Hamlet of Hattiesburg, but something more akin to Iago, who left destruction in his wake.
Favre has earned comparisons to boxers who retire only to announce their comeback, but the comparison is not apt. Boxers are individuals. Favre plays the position at the nexus of the most intricately choreographed team sport in existence.
If he indeed retires, he will have betrayed everyone in purple from owner Zygi Wilf to aging defensive tackle Pat Williams, who might not have even returned if not for the promise of a Favre-directed championship.
When I arrived on the practice field Friday morning to watch the Vikings' first training camp practice, I ran into Wilf. The conversation was not for the record, but I can tell you that he was optimistic, almost buoyant, while chatting abouthis team.
You didn't need to know him very well to understand that he thought Favre's return was a certainty.
The Vikings didn't draft a polished quarterback or pursue one in free agency because they were sure Favre would return.
If you believe in conspiracies, you could conclude that with the baseball trade deadline passed, with pennant races only simmering, Terrell Owens signed, LeBron James ensconced in Miami and NFL camps producing little titillating news, ESPN needed an event that would justify round-the-clock coverage and boost ratings.
Favre played the role of LeBron Lite on Tuesday, prompting ESPN to prepare career retrospectives without even showing up for a news conference or hour special.
It is foolish for us to guess at what Favre will do next, because he might not know himself.
Last summer, he told the Vikings he wouldn't play in 2009.
He arrived at Winter Park 21 days later.
All we know with certainty today is that Favre remains one of the most selfish people in an industry filled with divas.
If he indeed retires and remains retired all season -- let's offer that possibility just for the sake of discussion -- he will have teased and sabotaged the Vikings just as surely as he teased and sabotaged the Green Bay Packers for years.
If he remains retired, our last memory of him will be as the man who brought the Vikings to the brink of the Super Bowl, destroyed their chances with one horrific decision, then destroyed their chances the following season by doing the Dance of the Seven Veils for seven months.
If he remains retired, he'll have written a pathetic coda to a remarkable career. If he returns, it appears he'll receive at least $16 million, another round of waffling endorsements, the adulation of a state and a team that have embraced him, and one more chance at a title.
For anyone with a sense of responsibility, it would be an easy decision.
Jim Souhan can be heard from 10 a.m. to noon Sunday on AM-1500. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. • firstname.lastname@example.org