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Digging out of Minnesota's self-inflicted hole

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
About 10 days ago, reports ESPN's Ed Werder, quarterback Brett Favre told Minnesota officials that he planned to remain retired. The team's reaction was more telling than any spin you will hear over the next few days and weeks.

The Vikings asked Favre to reconsider, a request that left them waiting for a final answer about 36 hours before the first team meeting of training camp. Then, they dispatched some of their top players to recruit Favre via phone calls and text messages. Tailback Adrian Peterson and defensive end Jared Allen both reached out. Cornerback Antoine Winfield was given Favre's cell phone number moments after signing a contract extension.

Instead of cutting their losses last week, the Vikings put on a full-court press that -- from the outside, at least -- made it look like they were begging. They believed Favre would eventually come around, and their continued pursuit deepened the hole they must now dig out of.

Coach Brad Childress said in a statement Tuesday that Favre's decision "does not detract from the team we have." Technically, that is true. The Vikings have the same team Tuesday that they had Monday and last week. They are reigning NFC North champions and without question have a playoff-caliber collection of players. But at some point, they are going to have to refocus a locker room that clearly believed a future Hall of Fame quarterback was coming their way.

They'll have to start by turning to a quarterback they shunned for the past three months on the bet they could lure Favre to the Twin Cities.

Unless something bizarre happens -- and we've learned not to rule anything out -- either Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels will be the Vikings' starting quarterback in the Sept. 13 season opener at Cleveland. Both are professionals and surely understand that Favre ultimately has handed them a new opportunity. But they also know it came only after the team tried desperately to replace them.

It's only natural to wonder how they will react. Both expressed frustration with the situation about six weeks ago and neither received an official status update from the team until the final day of organized team activities. For the most part, Jackson and Rosenfels were left to twist in the wind and wonder if they had a future with the team.

There are other repair elements to consider as well. How do you think Jackson and Rosenfels felt about their teammates lobbying for Favre -- future Hall of Famer or otherwise -- to join them? Allen admitted earlier this week that the communication was supposed to be private, but it's too late to stuff that genie back in the bottle.

Jackson and Rosenfels don't have the professional pedigree to justify outrage. But it's never comforting when you start wondering which of your teammates are truly behind you -- or if your bosses put those teammates in a damaging situation by asking them to join the recruiting process.

And finally, what would you be thinking right now if you're a receiver or a player who otherwise figured to benefit from Favre's presence? In the short term, how can you not view Jackson or Rosenfels as a consolation?

Consider that one of the Vikings' most level-headed players, linebacker Ben Leber, told the Associated Press that he was "as surprised and shocked as anybody" after hearing the news and added: "I really expected him to be at camp."

In human nature, shock and surprise often precede a letdown. The Vikings have their work cut out to prevent it from happening to them.


Kevin Seifert examines what Brett Favre's decision means to the Vikings' Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels.