NFC North: Favre 081809
I hope it doesn't sound like an exaggeration to suggest that Tuesday was one of the most historic days in recent NFL history. It was probably anticlimactic for some people who have felt all along that Brett Favre would sign with Minnesota. Perhaps it was disgusting to others who have been repulsed by the drawn-out spectacle of Favre's decision-making process.
But as Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune writes, you can't deny the enormity of what occurred:
The most iconic quarterback of his generation, a player who mastered the most important and scrutinized position in sports while revitalizing the quaintest franchise in football, in two years maneuvered his way from the team that not too long ago regarded him as a deity to the team that not too long ago regarded him as Diablo. This doesn't happen, not with a player of this fame at a position of this importance in a rivalry of this intensity.
As a result, I have to tell you that we're going to be a little Favre-heavy around here for the next few days. But I will pledge to spread the wealth as much as possible in the interim. This will still be your place for one-stop NFC North shopping. Don't worry about me. I'll just push through the finger soreness.
So let's start off the day as we always do, with a spin around the division:
- In case you were wondering, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has already quashed the idea that signing Favre could help the Vikings secure public financing for a new stadium. "I don't think that Brett Favre's coming on board with the Vikings will change the stadium debate," Pawlenty said, according to Bill Salisbury of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "I do think, though, it's going to be good for the team. It's going to be good for the state. It's going to be exciting."
- Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune wonders which of the Vikings' three incumbent quarterbacks -- Tarvaris Jackson, Sage Rosenfels or John David Booty -- will be looking for a job after the preseason.
- It appears Chicago has given Frank Omiyale the left guard job even though Josh Beekman has had a good training camp, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times.
- The Bears used Chris Williams at left tackle on Tuesday while Orlando Pace took a day off, writes Bob LeGere of the Daily Herald.
- Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune takes a look at the one healthy member of the Bears' secondary, safety Kevin Payne.
- Among the items I didn't get a chance to bring you Tuesday: Detroit placekicker Jason Hanson had minor knee surgery this week. Tim Twentyman of the Detroit News explains.
- The Lions could get a ticket-selling boost from the Favre signing, writes Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.
- Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel breaks down contract figures for Green Bay defensive lineman B.J. Raji.
- The Packers are taking it slow with linebacker Clay Matthews, according to Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
|AP Photo/Hannah Foslien|
|The surreal became reality Tuesday when Brett Favre donned the uniform of his arch-enemy of the past: The Minnesota Vikings.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The scene was surreal. Six years ago, I watched a Minnesota defensive lineman wrap a Green Bay jersey (No. 4, of course) around a blocking dummy and start pummeling it during practice. Brett Favre on Tuesday walked on that same practice field and -- according to the video I watched at Detroit's Wayne County Airport -- squeezed a Vikings helmet over his gray hair.
A few hours later, Favre stood behind the same podium I've seen countless Vikings coaches and players use to discuss their plans for and failures against him. Favre spoke for some 20 minutes about his decision to come out of retirement, the condition of his right shoulder and his personal security with his legacy.
On the NFC Favre -- I mean, the NFC North -- blog, we've hashed through those issues pretty thoroughly. So for me, the most interesting part of the scene came when someone asked Favre about the limited role the Vikings seem to have in mind for him. Here's how the NFL's all-time leading passer responded:
"You know what? I think as a quarterback you kind of go as the team goes and do what you're asked to do. [But] you never know. I've heard this whole offseason: You won't have to do as much, we have a great running game. We all know that. But there is always going to be a time when you've got to make plays and have to do things that maybe you need done on a consistent basis."
In a nutshell, that is what the Vikings are hoping Favre can bring them. That's what will make this dramatic acquisition worthwhile.
If we didn't know before, the last two years in Minnesota have proved how critical the quarterback position is in this league. Over that period, the Vikings tried to win with a strong defense, a powerful running game and a quarterback they hoped wouldn't lose games for them. Quite frankly, that approach doesn't work.
You might be able to win a division title in a down year, as the Vikings did last season. But you won't win a playoff game -- and you won't be in the conversation to win the Super Bowl -- with such low expectations for the most important position in sports. At some point in every season, and weekly in the playoffs, there comes a time when the quarterback must take control and win a game.
For the first time in at least five years, the Vikings have a quarterback with that capacity. Imagine, for example, how Favre might have helped the Vikings during their divisional playoff loss to Philadelphia in January.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- It was a whirlwind Tuesday, but Brett Favre feels back at home on a branch of the Mike Holmgren tree.
After being chauffeured by his new coach, Brad Childress, (and being followed by a hovering helicopter) from the airport to the Vikings' facility, Favre took a physical, signed his contract, ate lunch, put on his Vikings helmet and hit the practice field.
Favre is back in the NFC North, and more importantly he's back in the West Coast system -- his comfort zone. Childress coached for Andy Reid, who coached for Holmgren. He's expected to quickly fit into Minnesota's system, much more than he ever did in his four-plus months with the New York Jets. Favre always seemed like he was playing catch up in 2008.
"(Minnesota's system is) Much easier from a system standpoint," Favre said. "Still have to learn the guys and stuff, but it was so much easier today just to call the plays I was familiar with. Those guys in New York last year were great kind of conforming the offense a little bit to where it was functional for me. But it was difficult. I really didn't think it would be as hard as it was.
"Whereas here, there's little subtle changes in the offense that may take a little (time), but the formations, the protections, the routes and stuff are the same. Today I didn't miss a beat calling those plays."
Favre ended his retirement this year nearly two weeks later than last year when the Packers traded him to New York. But because of his familiarity with the Vikings' system and their coaches (Minnesota offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell coached him in Green Bay), Favre seems ready to make a run with the Vikings.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- In a miracle of modern transportation, I managed to make it from Detroit's practice facility to Minnesota's in less than five hours. Thanks to a bit of a delay while Brett Favre and Brad Childress got their stories straight -- er, took care of some last-minute business -- I made it on time for the biggest news conference in recent Vikings history.
AFC West pal Bill Williamson and I will be churning out a steady stream of posts as the evening continues. But for those of you who are impatient, here are the highlights of what we heard:
- The deal apparently came together quickly. Childress said he called Favre on Monday to gauge his interest. Favre immediately jumped at the opportunity. Although he had previously ruled out re-recruiting Favre, Childress said he always considered the situation "fluid" and decided he had a "small window" to make one more run.
- Favre didn't have a solid answer for what had changed in the three weeks since he turned the Vikings' contract offer down. But he did admit that Dr. James Andrews found an old rotator cuff tear in his right shoulder during surgery on his biceps tendon this spring. Andrews did not repair the injury, and both Favre and Childress said they are confident he can continue playing with the injury. That was a bit of a head-scratcher, but so it goes for now.
- Favre's response to those who have grown tired of him changing his mind: "Don't watch." Favre went on to quote former Green Bay teammate Frank Winters, who often said: "Dude, it's America." As in, it's a free country.
More to come.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Visanthe Shiancoe knew he shouldn't have said it.
He mentioned the Super Bowl on Tuesday afternoon, minutes after completing his first practice with Brett Favre as his quarterback. The Vikings' tight end said Favre and the offense have to get clicking so they can get on the "road to the Super Bowl."
A couple of minutes later, Shiancoe admitted he shouldn't have initiated talk of the Super Bowl. But he's excited about playing with a "legend."
"Absolutely, Brett Favre can make us a better team," Shiancoe said.
Shiancoe said he didn't know anything about Favre's signing until he arrived to work and saw the television trucks outside the Vikings' facility. Then, he and several teammates watched Favre arrive at the facility on television.
"Then, it was: 'OK, let's get started,'" he said.
Asked if he was upset that Favre signed after missing training camp, he said there were "no hard feelings."
Meanwhile, Favre was greeted by a familiar face -- kicker Ryan Longwell. The two were teammates in Green Bay and are good friends. They ate lunch together at Minnesota's facility.
"He's excited to be here," Longwell said. "He's excited to be back in the Midwest."
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
Jackson and Rosenfels were mobbed by media members after the Vikings' practice. The main event -- Brett Favre's introductory news conference -- will be held at 6 p.m. ET Tuesday.
Understandably, neither Jackson nor Rosenfels appeared overly thrilled by the turn of events. After Favre announced shortly before training camp started in late July that he would stay retired, Rosenfels and Jackson commenced their own quarterback battle. Now, that battle is for the No. 2 job.
"I'm disappointed," Jackson said. "But I'll continue to try to get better."
When asked how it felt to be out of the starting quarterback race, he said "It's not a good feeling. But I'll take it for what it's worth."
Rosenfels said was it wasn't a "total shocker" that Favre changed his mind. However, he thought the possibility of Favre's return ended when training camp arrived and Favre wasn't in Minnesota.
He said he and Favre are teammates now and he will help Favre feel comfortable. Rosenfels, who was acquired in a trade from Houston this offseason, said this is the best team he has been on in his nine NFL seasons. He vowed to stay ready in case he is needed.
Rosenfels played well in Minnesota's preseason opener. He is dealing with a minor ankle injury.
"I will be here if this team needs me," Rosenfels said.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- As I scrambled from the Kansas City Chiefs' camp in River Falls, Wis. (my deepest apologies, Chiefs fans, I will return to Kansas City's camp Wednesday) to the Vikings' headquarters, I realized I hadn't been there for five years.
I forgot my exit.
But thanks to the hovering helicopters and satellite trucks camped out, I soon realized where I needed to pull off.
Welcome to Favre Country.
Suburban Minneapolis was the NFL's epicenter Tuesday. Fans hung around the Vikings' practice field for no other reason but to just say they were there the day Brett Favre became a Minnesota Viking. A nearby restaurant had its name covered by a sign. It now reads "Favre Café."
The media was abuzz when the graying, soon-to-be 40-year-old legend walked out on the lush practice field, wearing a red No. 4 jersey, purple shorts and a Vikings helmet.
Just as Brett Lorenzo Favre was signing his one-year deal with the Vikings, backup quarterback John David Booty was searching for a new number. Wearing No. 4 until Tuesday morning, Booty is now No. 9 in Minnesota.
Yes, it has all changed.
Minnesota quarterbacks Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson -- who until Tuesday were in a battle for the starting quarterback job -- were watching Favre take repetitions. There even appears to be a chance Favre will start Friday night's preseason game at the Metrodome against Kansas City. Believe it, NFL, Favre is back.
I will shoot back with post-practice reaction. Favre is set to hold a press conference at 6 p.m. ET.
DETROIT'S WAYNE AIRPORT -- Whew. What a few hours it has been ... and what a few days, weeks and months it's going to be. Hewhonowmustbenamed forced us to cut short our trip to Detroit. I'm headed back to the Twin Cities for FavreCon. I had a good chat with Lions coach Jim Schwartz before I left, and will share that with you in the coming days.
I hear it was a zoo in front of the Vikings' Winter Park practice facility, as fans, media and gawkers awaited Brett Favre's arrival in Minnesota. I'm not sure if I'm going to make it back in time for practice or an anticipated news conference, but rest assured: AFC West guru Bill Williamson is jetting over from Kansas City's camp in River Falls, Wis., and should be in place soon.
I'll pick up the blogging as soon as I get back to town. And off we go....
Posted by ESPN.com staff
And the reaction in Packerland to Tuesday's Brett Favre news ...
"I'm not surprised by it. I don't think anybody should be surprised by it," Packers coach Mike McCarthy is quoted on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Web site.
Asked whether this added some spice to the Vikings-Packers rivalry, McCarthy said: "I have no comment about it. We're a football team that's looking to improve. If he's going to play, that's obviously his choice."
Favre's former Packers teammates also did not have much to say.
"I don't have a reaction," quarterback Aaron Rodgers told the Journal Sentinel. "It doesn't pertain to me. It has absolutely nothing to do with me. It doesn't change anything. It has nothing to do with the Green Bay Packers."
"I ain't worrying about it to be honest," said receiver Donald Driver.
Rather than totally rehash those topics, I'll instead provide a series of links and summaries to the primary Favre-related posts. (This will be especially handy for those of you who refused to acknowledge this possibility until Favre formally and officially joined the Vikings. And it's also good for bloggers who were on vacation when this story finally reached its conclusion.)
|Stephen Dunn/Getty Images|
|The Vikings hope Brett Favre can be the perfect complement to their run-first offensive mindset.|
In reality, the topic of Minnesota upgrading its quarterback started in March with the Jay Cutler sweepstakes. In this March 3 post, we noted how the Vikings have spent lavishly at nearly every position in recent years except for quarterback:
The Vikings have signed 18 veterans at 16 different positions to contracts that total nearly $456 million [since 2006]. But less than two percent of that sum is devoted to the quarterback position. That is an irreconcilable dichotomy for a team with annual designs on a division title and beyond. Why devote so many resources to proven players at other positions while taking a chance at the most important one?
When news first broke of mutual interest between Favre and the Vikings, we wondered whether Favre's interest in the Vikings was based too much on his bitter departure from their division rival:
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.
On the same day (May 5), Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson offered a blistering explanation for why he believes Favre is the wrong fit for the Vikings:
Williamson: "If I'm the Vikings, here's what I'm doing: I'm playing heavy, heavy defense. I'm using my big, bruising offensive line and I'm handing the ball to Adrian Peterson. And I want a veteran quarterback who knows what he's doing but isn't going to kill us. Just give me a caretaker, someone who won't inflict any wounds. That's not Brett Favre. From what I saw last year, I don't even know he's one of the 32 best quarterbacks in the league right now. He might be an improvement over what they have, but there are so many different ways I would have gone. Brett Favre is a terrible fit for what I think the Vikings should be doing."
A week later, we considered some in-depth statistical analysis that revealed Favre has slipped noticeably in the final five games of the past four seasons. Favre has especially struggled in late-season, cold weather games, once his calling card:
From the outside, at least, [the statistics] reveal a simple but valuable fact: He hasn't had the stamina to maintain acceptable production over a 16-game season for some time. Favre will turn 40 on Oct. 10, and while he has considerably outplayed younger quarterbacks in recent years, his bionic arm and body have revealed their limitations.
Lest we get too negative, we also offered an argument for why Favre -- late-season struggles and all -- is the Vikings' best alternative. This Band-Aid approach would win the approval of noted author Malcolm Gladwell.
Gladwell: "The Band-Aid solution is actually the best kind of solution because it involves solving a problem with the minimum amount of effort and time and cost. ... There are times when we need a convenient shortcut, a way to make a lot out of a little."