Football

Favre says he’ll play … if

A day after NFL sources said Brett Favre sent messages to Minnesota Vikings personnel and team officials telling them that he planned to retire, the quarterback denied doing any such thing and told reporters in a brief interview in Hattiesburg, Miss., that he will return for a 20th NFL season if he is healthy.

That is the big issue for Favre, who underwent surgery on his left ankle in late May and still isn’t satisfied with how it feels.

“I haven’t made a decision yet, so that tells you one thing,” Favre said.

Favre’s agent, Bus Cook, said the quarterback will visit noted surgeon James Andrews next week to have the ankle examined.

“He’s working out really hard, and everything seems to indicate that if he is healthy and can contribute and play at the level that he has become accustomed to, he will play,” Cook said.

Favre, 40, did say he has a time frame in mind for making a decision and has talked to the team so it knows when that decision might come.

Favre also denied that his absence is related to getting a raise on the $13 million he is due in 2010. However, NFL sources claim the Vikings appear willing to sweeten the pot with an offer that could pay him $20 million, plus postseason incentives.

HGH BLOOD TESTS?

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says the league wants to test players for human growth hormone “to protect the integrity of our game.”

In an interview with The Associated Press, Goodell called the issue an “important” element of ongoing collective bargaining talks between owners and players.

The NFL has proposed having blood testing for HGH. The players’ union opposes it.

SUH JOINS LIONS

Defensive end Ndamukong Suh took a flight from Nebraska to Michigan, signed his contract, passed a conditioning test and joined his Detroit Lions teammates for drills in Allen Park, Mich.

The No. 2 pick overall in the NFL draft was greeted by chants of “Suuuuhhhh!” from fans as he walked on the practice field and was the center of attention for the next two hours.

Suh’s five-year contract is reportedly worth $40 million guaranteed and as much as $68 million overall.

EXTRA POINTS

The banged-up Denver Broncos signed LenDale White to provide running back depth after Correll Buckhalter (back) and Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) were injured at training camp. Moreno is expected to miss the rest of camp and Buckhalter about a week. The Broncos also released Kolby Smith. … The Chargers say rookie linebacker Donald Butler will miss the entire season after sustaining an Achilles’ tendon injury on Tuesday. He was a third-round draft pick out of Washington. … Former Chargers defensive lineman Gary “Big Hands” Johnson, one of the most dominant defensive linemen in team history, is dead at age 57. Johnson’s son, Gary Jr., confirmed his father’s death at LSU Hospital in Shreveport, La., just more than two weeks after he suffered a stroke. …

Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis stayed away from training camp for the fourth day, demanding to become the league’s highest-paid cornerback. … Wide receiver Santonio Holmes joined the Jets for conditioning tests. … Commissioner Goodell said Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is doing more than he was asked to do by the league and could have his six-game suspension reduced to four games. … The Bills released top pass-rusher Aaron Schobel, giving the veteran linebacker a chance to sign with another team or retire. … Carolina right tackle Jeff Otah had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. … The Giants say Hakeem Nicks’ injury to his right knee is not serious.

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