GREEN BAY, Wis. - Brett Favre finally met the one person who could stop him - and that was himself.
He won a Super Bowl and three MVPs. He set every record worth having for a quarterback in the NFL - most career touchdown passes, most career yards passing, most career victories by a starting quarterback. In an age when few quarterbacks could last a whole season, Favre went almost 16 years without missing a single game, an indestructible 253 straight regular-season starts.
The fist-pumping highs didn't satisfy him. The head-shaking lows didn't deter him. He had done it all, and he was worn out.
'I know I can still play, but it's like I told my wife, I'm just tired mentally. I'm just tired,' one of the NFL's greatest players told ESPN's Chris Mortensen in a voice mail message.
The Green Bay Packers quarterback who completed more passes than anyone in history will let that last throw - an interception in the NFC championship game that set up the New York Giants' winning field goal - stand as his final toss.
This time, Favre's fans won't have to endure another long winter wondering whether he'll retire.
'I think the finality of it just kind of hits you,' Packers general manager Ted Thompson said. 'Brett Favre's not going to be our quarterback anymore.'
Even the prospect of playing in one more Super Bowl couldn't convince him to stay.
'To go to the Super Bowl and lose, would almost be worse than anything else,' Favre told ESPN. 'Anything less than a Super Bowl win would be unsuccessful.'
The 38-year-old Favre experienced a career resurgence last season, leading the Packers back to the playoffs. And he broke Dan Marino's career records for most touchdown passes and most yards passing and John Elway's record for most career victories by a starting quarterback.
Most thought Favre had another good year left in him. But the guy who had joyful disregard for the ironclad rules of quarterback play said he was done.
'I was surprised when I heard it,' former Packers general manager Ron Wolf said. 'He played with such a great passion. He must have figured he no longer had that passion, and it was time to get out.'
Favre told the team he was simply worn out, physically and mentally, after starting every game since taking over as the Packers' starting quarterback in 1992.
He talked to coach Mike McCarthy by telephone twice Monday night, indicating he intended to retire, then spoke to Thompson to finalize his decision Tuesday morning.
'He said it was time for him to hang up the cleats,' McCarthy said.
Thompson and McCarthy spoke at a news conference Tuesday afternoon, but the team has not said when Favre will address reporters.
Favre accompanied his youngest daughter on a field trip to Jackson, Miss., according to a woman who identified herself as someone who works for Favre. She spoke to an Associated Press reporter through the security intercom.
Favre retires with 5,377 career completions in 8,758 attempts, with 61,655 yards and 442 touchdowns.
As the Packers cheered those touchdowns and victories (and cringed at his NFL-leading 288 interceptions) Favre's body was breaking down.
'After a while it takes a toll,' Thompson said. 'And based on my conversations with him and Mike's conversations with him, he feels like that's enough paying of the toll.'
That comes from his quarterback-record streak of 253 consecutive regular-season starts - illustrating his trademark toughness. Add in the playoffs, and Favre's streak stands at 275.
'Brett's career accomplishments will be measured among the greats of the game for the balance of time,' said Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren, Favre's former coach in Green Bay. 'He truly was as gifted a player as I have ever seen, and as proud and amazed as I am of what Brett has accomplished on the playing field, the thing that impresses me the most is what kind of a man and leader he has become off the field since I have known him.'
Even Favre's teammates didn't see it coming.
'I just saw it come across the TV,' Packers wide receiver Koren Robinson said, when reached on his cell phone by the AP.
Former Packers coach Mike Sherman, now the head coach at Texas A&M, said he always figured Favre would go out with more fanfare.
'I always envisioned his teammates carrying him off the field - and his arm falling off as he left,' Sherman said.