FavreWatch: Parsing the statements

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- If you were expecting a detailed account of Brett Favre’s return to practice Friday, you haven’t been watching the NFL for long. Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress said “I’m not giving any scouting reports” on how Favre looked, and the quarterback made only a brief appearance in the locker room during media availability. Suffice it to say, details were scarce.

In reality, both men have already fired their verbal and figurative salvos. On Monday, Childress provided far more information about Favre’s fractured left foot than he usually does. A conspiracy theorist would suggest Childress wanted it known how serious Favre’s injury was to grease the lane for benching him for Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots.

Favre, meanwhile, lobbied hard Wednesday to be given a chance to show he can play through the injury and maintain a streak of 291 consecutive starts. If nothing else, he painted Childress into a corner. If Favre believes he can play from a physical standpoint, as he suggested, then he was basically daring Childress to bench him for performance reasons.

Friday, Childress was asked about the hypothetical scenario of Favre not playing Sunday. Would it be because of the injury or performance?

“Those are things for you guys to ponder and write about,” Childress said.

Eventually, I asked Childress if he wanted Favre to play Sunday. Here’s what he said: “If he gives us the best chance to win, yeah. There is a couple of litmus things. There is, ‘Can he protect himself?’ And then, ‘What gives us the best chance to win?’”

You hate to overly parse the words of what was a pretty clipped news conference. But I thought Childress’ answer was revealing. Obviously, he needs to decide whether Favre is healthy enough to perform the basic duties required of him on the field. On that count, all I can tell you is that Favre was limping pretty noticeably during the brief portion of practice we watched Friday.

But it seemed as though Childress was suggesting that he also must determine, independent of the injury, whether Favre gives the Vikings the best chance to win Sunday. Would the Vikings be better off with Tarvaris Jackson starting? I obviously don’t know for sure, but it sure looks like Childress wouldn't mind if that's the case.

I can’t defend how Favre has played this season, committing 14 turnovers in six games. But whether Jackson would fare any better is pure speculation. Childress faces a tough decision no matter which way he goes. Luckily, we’ll be here and available to rip away regardless. Stay tuned. I don’t think we’ll have an answer until a few hours before Sunday’s kickoff.