Vikings offer possible end to Favre's summer saga
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The word "irony" gets thrown around too often, but it's hard to apply a more appropriate term for the position the Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers and Brett Favre find themselves in Thursday morning.
The Vikings, of all teams, might represent the only option for the Packers and Favre to salvage any dignity in a standoff that is growing into an unmitigated disaster.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel accurately captured a feeling that has been building around the NFL for a few days: If the Packers remain steadfast in their refusal to release Favre, they will have to consider trading him to the team of his choice -- the Vikings -- or else face the unprecedented disruption of having Favre crash training camp.
While unorthodox and perhaps counterintuitive, a trade at least allows the Packers to get something in return for Favre and take a draft pick or two from their division rivals. Releasing Favre outright, while cleaner, would allow him to sign with the Vikings for nothing.
It is almost common knowledge that Favre wants to play for the Vikings, and it's part of the reason why the Packers filed tampering charges against Minnesota earlier this month. What is not clear, and has not been discussed enough publicly, is whether the Vikings are 100 percent interested in acquiring him.
Coach Brad Childress has invested two years in developing Tarvaris Jackson and expects him to take a big leap in 2008. Although early reports have been mixed on Jackson's training camp performance, there are no indications Childress wants to give up on him.
At the same time, the Vikings have a veteran team poised for a playoff run and a free-spending owner. Three years after buying the team, Zygi Wilf is still so giddy that he continues to field punts in training camp. It's not hard to imagine him getting caught up in Favre mania.
So what would it take to execute a trade? First, the sides would have to talk through the emotions that flared up during the summer. The Packers, according to ESPN's John Clayton and others, believe the Vikings tried to stir the pot, if nothing else, by consulting with Favre on his decision to apply for reinstatement. The Vikings, on the other hand, were livid when the Packers initiated a tampering investigation, believing it was an attempt by the Packers to draw attention away from their own missteps.
Those emotions are still bubbling on the surface. Wednesday, we asked Packers coach Mike McCarthy whether he had any competitive concerns about facing Favre on another team, in the NFC North or otherwise.
"As far as where Brett Favre goes or if he's going to go," McCarthy said, "those are all hypotheticals. I'd really like to share my opinion on that, but I'm not going to do that."
In an instigating mood, we encouraged McCarthy to offer that opinion. Alas, he shook his head.
"That's why I'm holding on to this mike," he said, glancing down at his white-knuckled grip on a television microphone stand.
If they can get past those competitive juices, the Packers will realize Favre probably isn't going to consider reporting to a team other than the Vikings. (According to news reports, he hasn't been willing to discuss terms with either the New York Jets or Tampa Bay Buccaneers.)
Assuming they come to that realization, the Packers and Vikings would have to work out a compensation package that could incorporate a resolution to the tampering case as well. One person we talked to suggested the Packers could be enticed by an offer of a third-round draft pick and tailback Chester Taylor. But we have a hard time believing the Vikings would part with Taylor, even though they would be protecting their backup running back at the possible expense of getting a new starting quarterback.
More likely, the deal would have to include one or more draft picks. The Vikings would be motivated by the desire to get Favre into camp, while the Packers would recognize the time had come to end their summer of turmoil.
A week ago, the chances of Green Bay willingly moving Favre to Minnesota seemed remote. Now, the dial is slowing moving. Thursday, we're at "possible." How ironic.