EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Words about Brett Favre's retirement always include a qualifier, and Vikings coach Brad Childress offered the latest: "As far as I know."
Childress declined Thursday to close the door on signing the famously flip-flopping quarterback, who declared for a second time in February he was done with football for good.
The coach confirmed for the first time this year, though, that he's spoken with Favre, but said their last contact was "several weeks ago" and solely by phone.
"It was worth a conversation," Childress said, "and as far as I know he's still retired."
Favre has, according to several reports, considered coming out of retirement in recent weeks while assessing his health. He has a partially torn biceps tendon, which causes pain in his throwing shoulder and prompted him to call it quits after a 2008 season with the New York Jets that started well but ended badly.
When the Jets released him this offseason, making him a free agent, Favre said: "Nothing has changed. At this time, I am retired and have no intention of returning to football."
Favre's agent, Bus Cook, has repeated a similar line this month while speculation about Favre's status has swirled around the country, claiming his client remains retired -- to the best of his knowledge.
Without a no-way, no-how statement from either the Vikings, Favre or his inner circle, well, the possibility won't be forgotten anytime soon. But Childress tried to put it to rest, taking questions from reporters for the first time in three weeks.
"You're interested in going through the process," the coach said. "And are you interested in a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback? You're always interested in going through the process and discussing it and investigating it."
Childress didn't comment whether the team has looked at Favre's medical reports, whether there's a point this summer when it would be too late to hire him, or whether Favre directly expressed interest in playing for Minnesota.
The coach quipped that Favre simply told him how warm the weather has been in Mississippi, and that he's spending time replacing fence posts.
"He's retired, so it's not relevant and it's not any of my focus right now," Childress said.
The same goes for the guys who are supposed to be competing for that job Favre might or might not want. Tarvaris Jackson, who shared repetitions in Thursday's practice with Sage Rosenfels, smiled as he explained his Favre fatigue.
"When you see it over and over again, it really don't matter who they're talking about. You get kind of tired watching reruns," Jackson said. "I just change the channel. I don't read the paper anymore. That's pretty much it."
Jackson went through this last year, when Favre tried to return to Green Bay and was ultimately traded to the Jets when the Packers refused to let him go to the Vikings.
"I'm pretty much used to it by now. It's expected for a guy of his caliber. I'm not really worried about that," Jackson said.
Rosenfels, who was acquired in a trade with the Houston Texans earlier this year, didn't sound quite as amused. But he expressed the same can't-control-it-so-don't-try attitude toward the incessant media coverage of the story.
"I have blocked you guys out as much as I can for the last nine years of my life," Rosenfels said. "So really nothing has changed -- the way I prepare, the way I work out here at practice."
Punter Chris Kluwe was clearly amused by the swarm of cameras present for one of 14 on-field, non-contact workouts the Vikings have scheduled over the next month.
"FavreFavreFavreFavre, FavreFavreFavreFavre," he said, sounding like a barking dog as he walked past.
The subject of Favre has unavoidably come up in talks between Childress and his quarterbacks, but they all downplayed any need to clear the air about the team's intentions.
Jackson acknowledged he'd like to know what's going to happen, for the sake of his career direction, but said he realizes the business he's in.
"You can't really blame them. He's a great player and, like you said, a future Hall of Famer," Jackson said. "The team we have and the guys we have around us, why not? But I feel like I can get the job done, and I'm just trying to get better each day. That's my job right now. I'm not really focused on the what-ifs. If it happens, it happens. But until it happens, I'm just going to continue to come out here and get better, and when it happens I'm going to do the same."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press