Brett Favre, the Hamlet of Hattiesburg, finally made a decision, finally told the Vikings that, after teasing them for months, he intends to remain retired.

Favre should be ashamed of himself for toying with an entire organization. The Vikings should be ashamed of themselves for investing hope and faith in the most self-absorbed great quarterback in NFL history.

Favre was the Vikings' human lottery ticket, and the Vikings today feel like anyone who ever wasted their money on a long shot. The initial rush of adrenaline has been replaced by nausea and regret.

Thanks to Favre's belated and damaging decision, there are no winners in Minnesota.

The Wilfs, after dreaming of guaranteed sellouts and skyrocketing jersey sales, now will proceed with Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels taking snaps.

Vikings coach Brad Childress, who kept his players in the dark while winking at Favre, now must pretend that he was a luxury instead of a necessity, that his current quarterbacks are good enough to win a playoff game, that this 12-car pileup of a courtship was nothing more than a fender bender. Nothing to see here, folks; please move along.

Jackson and Rosenfels will sheepishly take first-team snaps early in camp, knowing the Vikings preferred a 40-ish serial retiree coming off arm surgery over them.

Vikings fans, instead of dreaming of a Hall of Fame quarterback running a dynamic offense, will have to go back to hoping that Jackson or Rosenfels will miraculously become decisive readers of defenses and leaders of men.

Viking players will have to face Jackson and Rosenfels in the locker room and huddle, knowing that the current quarterbacks know that the team's stars were texting love letters to Favre.

Those of us who love a great story will miss Favre jogging onto Lambeau Field wearing purple, the consummation of perhaps the most stunning example in sports history of an iconic, Hall of Fame player synonymous with his franchise manipulating his way onto the roster of a rival.

Only the Packers, and their fans, are winners today. They recognized Favre for the unrepentant flip- flopper he is, and pushed him out the door rather than spend every offseason fighting through Favre Fatigue. This year the Packers will neither have to deal with Favre nor face him. The Vikings wish they could go back in time and sign up for that deal.

Childress called the Star Tribune's Judd Zulgad on Tuesday afternoon to break the news, and said, "This doesn't change anything about how I feel about our football team."

That's just silly. Childress and his bosses must feel sick.

Childress the control freak allowed Favre to control not only his decision but its timing, casting a shadow over the franchise for months.

We know now what we knew then: Childress should have imposed a strict deadline on Favre, so that if he did decide to stay retired, Childress could emerge as a clear-eyed decision-maker who expressed interest in a Hall of Fame quarterback but wasn't willing to sell his soul.

Instead, Childress deferred to Favre, and will spend the first few days of training camp answering questions about someone who has never set foot in Mankato.

Childress can't save face at this point, but he can salvage a smidgen of dignity. He needs to announce during his first news conference in Mankato that the door is closed, that the dalliance with Favre is over even if he changes his mind and asks to suit up next Tuesday.

Favre could have retired from the Packers with pomp and circumstance. Instead, he left Green Bay in a pout, then left New York with Jets teammates calling him a diva before standing up the Vikings at the altar.

Favre probably feels that if he didn't play well this season, he could tarnish his legacy.

It's a little late for that. Brett Favre will be remembered, especially in Minnesota, as the most self-centered great quarterback in NFL history.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon on AM-1500 KSTP.