EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- We won't have the X-Files scandal to keep our attention over the next week, so we're moving on to Plan B: The aggressiveness with which the New Orleans Saints will come after Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre in Thursday night's regular season opener.
If you recall, the Saints put a beating on Favre in last January's NFC Championship Game, collecting two personal fouls in the process. The NFL later acknowledged a third penalty should have been called. The game left Favre with bruises on his ankle and thigh -- he said Sunday that the photographs that surfaced of his injuries were taken three days after the game -- and led Vikings coach Brad Childress to accuse the Saints of hitting him outside the spirit of the NFL's rules.
Childress reiterated those sentiments Sunday, telling New Orleans reporters: "What I hate to see are late hits or attempts to hurt anybody. I don't think there's a place for that in the game."
Asked if he thought that happened last January, Childress said: "Yes, I would have to say that, yes."
Let's get something out of the way right now: There is no way that Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is going to change his approach. Childress knows it, Favre knows it and Saints coach Sean Payton essentially said as much Sunday. Childress' best hope is that a public discussion leading up to the game brings the issue to the attention of the eyes that matter -- i.e. game officials -- in hopes of maximizing the chance for penalties and warnings. After all, I doubt the NFL wants to see a future Hall of Fame quarterback taking post-throw hits all night in their marquee national season opener.
To his credit, Favre refused to join in on the discussion and actually welcomed the type of all-in blitzes the Saints specialize in. (More on that latter topic Tuesday.)
"Had it been us doing that to [Saints quarterback Drew Brees], we probably wouldn't feel that way," Favre said. "They would be getting those questions. It's football. If you're able get the opposing quarterback out. ... Are there cheap hits that happen occasionally? In every game. The ones on the quarterback are more obvious. People see them."
The Saints might do it with a little more machismo, but face it: Every team wants to knock out the opposing quarterback. Not every team has a defensive coordinator like Williams, who told USA Today this summer that "we have to do better in sending messages to every offense about how physical it's going to be when they play us. Those messages are out there, starting with No. 4 [Favre]."
But it's not as if the Saints have some kind of novel approach. Success often relies in some part on pushing the envelope. You just hear the Saints talking more about it than some others. And last year, it helped them with the Super Bowl.
"I thought they played with great energy and effort," Payton said of his defense in the January matchup. "I thought there was one foul that was called. Certainly you could make a case one way or the other, but ultimately the next weekend, or two weekends later, [we] played in Miami for the Super Bowl."
And isn't that the bottom line?