NFC North: Favre 050509

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Now is about the time when we all say: Calgon! Take me away.

(If you're too young or cool for that reference, too bad.)

Thursday, we agreed to consider this latest Brett Favre cycle in the past tense. Friday, we don't really have that option.

 Favre

Maybe you've already heard or seen this ESPN report from Jeremy Schaap. The essence: An X-ray of Favre's partially torn right biceps tendon was sent Thursday to Minnesota officials, who are currently evaluating it. As we pointed out here, there are two surgical options for addressing the injury. If the Vikings determine it can be corrected with the minor version, known as a "tenotomy," then Schaap reports Favre will come out of retirement and play for the Vikings.

According to Schaap, Favre will remain retired only if it is determined he needs major surgery. Based on the research we did this week, that procedure would have to be a "tenodesis" -- which requires up to six months of rehabilitation. With training camp three months away, it's a moot point.

This story has spun totally out of control, and I'm not sure if I can make reasonable sense out of it anymore. Schaap's report suggests Favre's medical records were sent to the Vikings ON THE SAME DAY that a Yahoo! Sports story reported that Favre told coach Brad Childress he doesn't want to play in 2009.

I know many of you are tired of this subject and are concerned with how it's playing out through anonymous sources. I share your pain. We've heard the continued denials from Favre's agent, Bus Cook, including one Friday on the existence of the X-rays. But we've heard nothing from the two primary figures here: Favre and Childress. Experience tells me they have their reasons for not commenting, and it probably relates to the minute-by-minute fluidity of the story.

I guess we have to accept that it's not over until Favre and Childress say it is. And we haven't heard that from either yet.

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

I know what I thought when I saw the headline: "Favre rebuffs Vikings, will remain retired." Maybe you thought the same thing: That Brett Favre will remain retired today.

That's all we can safely conclude in the wake of Thursday's Yahoo! Sports story. Reportedly, Favre has informed Minnesota coach Brad Childress that he won't come out of retirement and play for the Vikings in 2009. Favre, after all, twice sent that message to Green Bay officials in the spring of 2008 before asking them in June for reinstatement.

But for the benefit of this post, let's assume Favre's plans are as permanent as they can possibly be. For now, we'll ignore the possibility that he could get the itch to play later this summer. Let's not go there. Yet.

At this time, I think it's more important to measure the impact of this dalliance on Minnesota: the franchise, its players and its fan base.

Here is what I think we can conclude from this brouhaha:

  1. Not everyone in the organization is sold on its current quarterback configuration, a list that has to include Childress. Upon Favre's release last week, Childress could simply have shipped him a retirement bouquet or a box of chocolates. Instead, he has been widely reported to have sent out feelers to determine whether Favre would come play for him. I realize Favre is a future Hall of Fame quarterback, not just a mere upgrade, but Childress has to understand the implicit message and ramifications of the pursuit. It tells your incumbent quarterbacks -- those whom you will turn to if the gambit fails -- that your confidence level is something short of 100 percent.
  2. Quarterbacks Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels are going to have to grow some thick skin, if they don't have it already. Rosenfels would be especially justified in feeling tossed around. The Vikings acquired him in February, extended his contract and told him he would compete for the starting job. Before he even took a practice snap -- OTAs (organized team activities) don't begin until May 19 -- they were already looking to replace him.
  3. That confusion doesn't just span to quarterbacks. Receiver Bernard Berrian told ESPN's Rachel Nichols this week that Favre would do "wonders for our team." Berrian also told the Star Tribune that he was trying not to get too excited about the possibility. If you're a player involved with the Vikings' passing game, or even if you're just a veteran with limited time left to pursue a championship, I'm guessing you are going to be at least a little disappointed and/or disenchanted with this news.
  4. This news cycle also has illustrated the way Minnesota continues to address its quarterback position by the seat of its pants. It acquired Rosenfels in February and started pursuing Favre less than two months later. Overall, it has devoted a total of eight draft choices to acquiring six different quarterbacks since Daunte Culpepper blew out his knee in 2005. In the past three seasons, five different quarterbacks have started at least one game for the Vikings. Even if Favre had agreed to return, they likely would have been in the same situation again next offseason.
  5. I wouldn't say Vikings fans were 100 percent united in this pursuit, but its anticlimactic conclusion will create more disappointment than relief. Whatever the proportion, it's an unhealthy detour for a team that -- like many in the economic environment -- has its work cut out to sell tickets.

I also wonder if this episode has impacted Favre's long-term relationship with the Green Bay organization and its fans. Already, you figured it would take some time for wounds to heal and for Favre to take his place as a revered alumnus of the Packers. Will his flirtation with Minnesota represent just a blip on that path? Or has it set back the reunion even further?

And it appears that's that. So at this time, we'll take a step back from Favre2009. At least for today.

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Just a heads-up: Yahoo! Sports is reporting that quarterback Brett Favre has told Minnesota coach Brad Childress that he wants to remain retired. If true, that explains why Childress didn't travel to a planned meeting with Favre on Wednesday evening. As always, we'll keep you updated.

ESPN's Rachel Nichols on the latest news that Brett Favre won't sign with the Vikings.

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

In an interview with ESPN's SportsCenter, Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen said it would be "cool" to be teammates with quarterback Brett Favre, but said the success of the Vikings' season doesn't hinge on whether he signs with the Vikings. "We were pretty good last year without him," Allen said.

Here's the full interview:

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

You'll find a bit of interesting news embedded in this story from Judd Zulgad and Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune: Brett Favre is willing to undergo a relatively minor procedure on his partially torn right biceps tendon.

During the surgery, believed to be a tenotomy, surgeons would complete the partial tear Favre suffered last year. Once fully torn, the injury will no longer cause pain, irritation or inflammation. It also isn't likely to have much impact on his ability to throw and will allow him to recover long before training camp would begin in July.

Vikings coach Brad Childress reportedly was en route to a meeting Wednesday with Favre. With the question of a possible surgery already solved, the pair could make a quick agreement for Favre to join the Vikings, according to the Star Tribune.

We'll keep you updated. For now, let's take a spin around the division:

  • Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Wednesday that signing Favre would be "a wonderful little salt to rub in the eyes of some of our Green Bay Packer friends," according to the Associated Press. Must have been a slow day in government.
  • Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette notes other instances in which a Packers legend has moved on to other teams. Among them: Herb Adderly and Forrest Gregg.
  • Chicago general manager Jerry Angelo addresses his reputation for being conservative in a Q&A with Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun Times. Angelo: "[W]hat you don't want to do is miss big. So we have a very pragmatic approach to making decisions. We don't do things knee-jerk; we don't do things based on perception. We do things based on how it's going to impact us now and going forward. Nothing great probably looked good early."
  • Free-agent tight end Michael Gaines, released this spring by Detroit, has a visit scheduled Thursday with the Bears. Dave Hutchinson of the Newark Star-Ledger has details.
  • Lions coach Jim Schwartz showed off his love of heavy-metal music during an in-studio radio appearance Wednesday. John Niyo of the Detroit News brings details, The Scorpions, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath were all part of the conversation. Nice.
  • Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press is uncharacteristically ga-ga over the Lions' decision to sign linebacker Larry Foote.
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Brett Favre's dalliance with Minnesota has generated, shall we say, a passionate response from long-time Green Bay fans. I got more than 600 messages during the course of the day; about 500 were fit for family viewing.

There was a predictable majority of devastation and anger. But a solid percentage of you welcomed the possibility of Favre donning a Vikings uniform, even if it was for no other reason than what Jayme of Wausau (Wis.) suggested: "To have the Packers set the NFL record for roughing-the- passer-penalties against him."

Kidding aside (I think), many of you are taking Favre's apparent grudge against Packers management personally. While Favre might hope to avenge the circumstances of his departure last summer, in reality that animus would be absorbed by many of his fans.

"The term Judas is nothing short of appropriate," wrote Brandon of St. Paul. Tim of Madison, Wis., recalls The Godfather:

"As a lifelong Packer fan I would never forgive Favre if he plays for the Vikings. To steal a quote from Michael Corleone, "Favre, you're nothing to me now. You're not a brother, you're not a friend. I don't want to know you or what you do."

And, I'm afraid to report, many of you expressed sentiments similar to Eric of White Bear Lake, Minn.:

"I was brought up by my dad to love the Packers. I started watching the Pack religiously right around the time Favre was winning MVPs. I loved and defended him probably more then anyone should a professional athlete. I have been in three fist fights and too many verbal arguments to even try to remember defending him. Obviously, growing up in MN I took a lot of crap about the Pack but I didn't care because they had Favre and the Vikes didn't. Now to see him possibly going to the Packers most hated rival (yes even more then the bears) I am heartbroken. ... I couldn't sleep last night, I can't eat, and turning on ESPN makes me want to throw up. ... If Favre wears purple I am burning my Favre jersey in the middle of the street. Is he so blinded with hate for Thompson he doesn't realize the real people he is going to hurt are all his former fans?"

Some of you, however, suggest Favre's fading skills could ultimately provide the Packers one final boost.

K of Portland figures that Packers officials were "doing cartwheels" at the news:

"Brett seems to think that Packer fans were simply Packer fans because of him, and he has another thing coming. That said, please, please, please let sign with the Vikings. Brett proved he was washed up last year, and his act is so stale that it will be great to watch the Minnesota fans have to put up with the diva persona."

A few of you remain loyal to the Favre Fan Club. Peter of Chicago still believes Favre got a raw deal from the Packers and "deserves another shot at a Super Bowl run." Peter added:

"I think Packer fans need to lighten up about the whole 'loyalty' thing since the organization was far from loyal in dealing with its greatest player ever. Plus, you'd be crazy to say this league is better without Favre than with. He's still a great player and entertainer with huge 'WOW' factor. Favre for MVP in '09!!!"

Greg of Baton Rouge, La., wrote that Favre "is one of the best and should leave this game the way he wants to and with a team of his choice, not a team Ted Thompson selected for him."

I could go on and on, but I think those viewpoints provide a representative sample of how you are reacting. As it stands early Wednesday evening, we believe Favre and Minnesota coach Brad Childress have started a two-day meeting designed to gauge both sides' interest in each other. We'll continue to update you with news, analysis and reaction as the story develops.

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

I'm working on compiling a representative sample of the 600 or so Green Bay fans who have responded to Wednesday morning's request. But first, let's hear from a guy who would know what it's like to switch teams within this division.

Safety Darren Sharper spent eight seasons in a Packers uniform before signing with the Vikings in 2005. Sharper left Minnesota this spring to sign with New Orleans, and on Wednesday he made the media rounds as the Brett Favre story gained steam.

Sharper told ESPN's Rachel Nichols that he is "100 percent sure" Favre will come out of retirement to play for the Vikings. Ultimately, Sharper said, the urge to avenge his departure from Green Bay will prove too attractive.

"This is a perfect opportunity for him not only to come back," Sharper said, "but also to put a foot in [general manager] Ted Thompson's rear."

But Favre shouldn't expect the sympathy of Packers fans, Sharper told NFL Sirius Radio.

Sharper: "[I]t's going to probably be exponentially more [than] the backlash that I had to deal with once I came to Minnesota's side from the Packer fans. He's not going to want to answer any fan mail. He's not going to want to look at any Web sites or blogs because the way I took a beating when I left Green Bay and headed to Minnesota, to think of Brett Favre, a legend for the Packers, going to Minnesota? He won't be able to go back to ... Wisconsin to get inducted into the Packer Hall of Fame because they're going to be a little bit upset. But, in saying that, you have to understand it is a business. Even though I'm going to be playing on that Sunday, I'm going to make sure I Tivo that game when Green Bay plays Minnesota if Brett Favre is the QB for the Vikings because that's going to be one for the ages."

More to come from the Packers angle shortly.

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

You can follow our blog on Twitter here, and you can follow Green Bay linebacker Nick Barnett here. I'm guessing you'll choose the latter, and if you do you'll see the first (semi-) official Packers reaction to the news that retired quarterback Brett Favre will meet with Minnesota coach Brad Childress about joining the Vikings.

(Hat tip to Greg A. Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.)

Here's Barnett's Tweet, as we like to call it:

"Thoughts on frave [sic]... Well didn't want to comment but hey anyways I think he should do what ever he feels is in his heart.. But once he puts that purple he will become an enemy which is all part of the game.. It's hard to imagine him doing that."

Barnett is recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, but chances are he'll be recovered in time for the Oct. 5 matchup between the Packers and Vikings. (With or without Favre, that game will be televised on ESPN's "Monday Night Football." Just thought I'd throw that in there.)

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Favre

Minnesota continues to pursue retired quarterback Brett Favre in expedient fashion. Vikings coach Brad Childress is scheduled to begin meeting with Favre over dinner Wednesday night in Mississippi, according to the Star Tribune. The meeting is expected to continue into Thursday.

The Vikings can afford to give Favre a bit of breathing room after this meeting. Their first organized training activity isn't scheduled until May 19. Their mandatory veteran minicamp, which starts May 29, is three weeks away.

Childress is certainly collecting some high-visibility frequent flier miles these days. Four days before the draft, he traveled to Gainesville, Fla., to meet with Florida receiver Percy Harvin. With Childress' blessing, the Vikings eventually drafted Harvin with the No. 22 overall pick in the first round.

ESPN.com NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert talks about Brett Favre's possible return to the NFL.

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

I'm partially amused and somewhat alarmed by Minnesota's apparent desire for quarterback Brett Favre to participate in its offseason program and/or minicamp, as reported by ESPN's Ed Werder and Chris Mortensen.

 
  NFL.com Video
  Vikings coach Brad Childress discusses Brett Favre and the health of rookie Percy Harvin.

I guess the Vikings owe it to themselves to try, but I'm sure they know Favre doesn't always do offseasons. Favre said last year that offseason workouts were one of the reasons he retired in the first place, and I suspect he feels no different now. That agent Bus Cook is shopping for personal quarterback coaches, as reported by Mortensen, suggests Favre has no plans to hop off his tractor and spend the next two months in Minnesota. (As nice as it is this time of year.)

I can't imagine the issue would be a deal-breaker, especially now that news of the meeting has gone public. If a Vikings offer is contingent on Favre agreeing to attend their offseason program, it's not a realistic approach. Favre might be willing to attend the Vikings' mandatory minicamp May 29-31. Good for Brad Childress if he can talk him into more than that, but it wouldn't seem likely based on past experience.

More than anything, this facet of the story illustrates how far down the plank the Vikings have already walked. We're in the second week of May, and they are shopping for a new starting quarterback. The simple act of setting up a meeting with Favre sends a mixed message, at best, to the two quarterbacks they had planned to pit in a training camp competition. Simply by virtue of Tuesday's story, Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels already know they're on the brink of being pushed aside -- at least for one year.

From this vantage point, it seems the Vikings have boxed themselves into a situation that mandates an agreement with Favre. They're in no position to make demands, including offseason attendance. If Favre walks away, or if the Vikings move on because he won't accede to their requests, Childress would be left with the unenviable task of rebuilding the trust of his remaining quarterbacks.

It would have to go something like this: Yes, we thought we could get somebody better. We couldn't, but we still like you. Really. We do.

Jackson and Rosenfels would have little choice but to accept Childress' extended hand. At this point, neither has earned status as an unquestioned starter. But that's just the point, isn't it? The Vikings are tacitly admitting their quarterback position could use further upgrade. Now that they've turned that corner, they can't afford to stall.

Podcast: Mortensen on Favre

May, 6, 2009
5/06/09
10:40
AM ET
Chris Mortensen now thinks Brett Favre will play for the Vikings and says Favre's reply to Trent Dilfer's text was to the question of whether he hired a personal trainer.
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Joshua, who describes himself as hailing from a family that "bleeds green and gold," wrote Tuesday night to say he was "heartbroken" by the news that Brett Favre will meet with Minnesota coach Brad Childress this week. Joshua wrote:

"I feel like a man that was given everything, from a 100 million dollar deal to the countless number of Packer fans who gave him their hearts, is stabbing Green Bay in the back. I don't know how I can ever forgive Favre if he indeed does sign with Minnesota."

I'm curious how other Green Bay fans feel about this news, especially those who sided with Favre during last summer's chaotic divorce. After all, Favre would not only play for one of the Packers' chief rivals, but it appears he is motivated at least in part to avenge his acrimonious departure from Green Bay.

To what extent would this damage Favre's standing with Packers fans? Would it ease the spotlight on general manager Ted Thompson? How many years would it take to heal these wounds and allow him to retire -- eventually -- as a Packer?

Share your thoughts in the mailbag and we'll circle back a bit later. In the meantime, here is some video of a few Packers fans getting the initial news from KARE 11 in Minneapolis.

What's motivating Favre?

May, 5, 2009
5/05/09
8:40
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

At some point very soon, Brett Favre needs to consider a critical question. Maybe Minnesota coach Brad Childress will ask him at their meeting later this week:

Do you want to play for the Vikings or against Green Bay?

 
  NFL.com Video
  Vikings coach Brad Childress discusses Brett Favre and the health of rookie Percy Harvin.

If it's the latter, Favre needs to jump back on his tractor and continue living the good life in Mississippi. The NFL game is too difficult, and the stakes in this decision are simply too high, to play merely for the sake of pursuing a vendetta. Proving the Packers made a mistake by trading him last summer isn't a good enough reason to commandeer the most important position on a team that has designs on a deep playoff run.

As ESPN's Mark Schlereth said Tuesday night: "If you're playing out of vengeance, I'm going to tell you right now, those aren't the right decisions."

If Favre wanted to return because he loves playing football, or even if he can't stand the thought of falling from the public spotlight, there are multiple teams he could choose from. But ESPN's John Clayton reported this week that Favre told New York Jets officials that Minnesota was the only team he would consider playing for.

There could be only one reason for that stipulation: Revenge. Otherwise, Favre has no substantive ties to the Vikings. Sure, he was once coached by Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. And yes, he appears to consider Childress a professional acquaintance. But it's not like he grew up in Minnesota and always dreamed of playing there. It's not as though he has many friends in the locker room. (The Vikings have only one former Packer on their current roster: Placekicker Ryan Longwell. Thanks to Kyle for catching the omission in an earlier version of this post.)

The only tie Favre has to the Vikings is that they play in the same division as the Packers. I wonder where we would be if Chicago hadn't acquired Jay Cutler. Would Favre be considering the Bears as well? After all, we all know the Bears-Packers rivalry is one of the greatest in all of sports. (Ha. Just an inside joke for long-time blog readers.)

Seriously, this isn't just an issue for Favre. I'm sure there are members of the Vikings organization who are giddy right now, but they need to approach this situation with extreme caution. I don't know if they want a quarterback whose motivation is as twisted as Favre's might be.

I talked to someone Tuesday night who played devil's advocate on this final question. Who cares what Favre's motivation is? If the Vikings can tap into it and capitalize in a way that improves their 2009 team, then why not? But in my mind, those two sentiments can't coexist. I don't think Favre can be the quarterback Minnesota needs him to be if he's motivated more by his Packers angst than he is by his enthusiasm for the Vikings.

ESPN's John Clayton talks about the possibility of Brett Favre playing for the Vikings this season.

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