MINNEAPOLIS -- The election of Brett Favre to the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2016 has brought back a wave of interviews with, public appearances from and stories about the Ol' Gunslinger. Former Minnesota Vikings guard Steve Hutchinson was part of one of the more memorable twists in the last chapter of Favre's career, and Hutchinson resurfaced on Monday to share tales of what played out like a madcap caper.
Hutchinson was one of three Vikings who was spirited away from a training camp practice in August 2010, boarding a plane for Hattiesburg, Mississippi, with defensive end Jared Allen and kicker Ryan Longwell to try and convince Favre to return for a second season with the Vikings after the team had lost the NFC Championship Game in overtime 6 1/2 months earlier. Team officials tried to create an alibi for the three players that day, telling reporters they were working in a different part of the building. But by the time they were on the way back to Minnesota, they'd been found out.
"[Coach Brad] Childress kind of called me into his office after practice and said, ‘Hey, what do you think you and I fly down and go get Brett?’" Hutchinson said on 1500 ESPN on Monday. "And I said, ‘I got a better idea. How about you stay here and send Jared, because Jared makes him laugh, and Ryan Longwell, because he loves Ryan and they have such a past together, and I’ll go too. The three of us.'"
The three boarded owner Zygi Wilf's plane, with a flight plan saying the aircraft was headed for New Orleans to throw off anyone who might be tracking the tail number of the plane. The idea, Hutchinson said, was to change the destination to Hattiesburg in mid-flight, long after any suspicious reporters would have stopped tracking Wilf's plane.
"It was this big thing. It worked," Hutchinson said. "I mean, we got down there … I guess about the time you guys were figuring out we weren’t at practice, that’s kind of when we were in the car ride back to the plane to get into the plane to fly back to Minneapolis. And by that time, obviously, there was the helicopter and the whole charade there. It was pretty funny, we were laughing the whole time. We got him back, but we basically kidnapped him.”
As the five-time All-Pro recalls it, the journey to get Favre wasn't met with initial success.
"We get there -- now, of course his whole family knew we were coming; he was the only one who didn’t know," Hutchinson said. "So we get there at like 9:30, 10:00 at night by the time we get to his house. And it was this big surprise thing. I’m not kidding when I say he was like, ‘Oh, it’s so great to see you guys.’ Fifteen minutes later, ‘Where’s Brett?’ ‘He went to bed.’ Seriously. We’re sitting on the couch. [Favre's wife] Deanna’s like, ‘I think he went to bed.’ [We're thinking,] 'Oh, this is going to be tough.
"We thought we were going to walk in and he’d be like, ‘Yeah, let’s go win one for the Gipper.’ But, no. [The] next day we were talking. We started thinking, 'If he doesn’t come back, people are going to start finding out we were down here regardless. And what does it look like for the organization? And the confidence we have in the other quarterbacks?' It was just going to be a media circus that way. It’s true, he did not want to come back at first. And finally, when he did, [in] typical Brett fashion. ‘Ah, all right. Let’s go.’ Like you just talked a kid into, like, throwing rocks off a bridge or something.”