EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- All we needed Wednesday was a red curtain and some dim lighting. Then we could have called it "Masterpiece Theatre."
(Or "Mystery Science Theater 3000," depending on your taste and interest in audience participation.)
For Act I, we had Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress saying once again that “sometimes you have to protect people from themselves.”
In Act II, we had quarterback Brett Favre limping to the podium with his left foot encased in a walking boot. After a few warm-up questions, Favre is smacking the podium with his left hand and declaring “I want to play.” Despite two fractures in his left foot, Favre valiantly declares: “Mentally, I think I can do it. I’ve done it before. Will it hurt? I’m sure it will.”
And so goes the unprecedented drama playing out this week at the Vikings’ Winter Park practice facility. Favre has an injury that almost certainly would mean a week or two off for any other player. But the man who has started 291 consecutive games, pushing through sprained feet and fractured thumbs along the way, expertly played the role of tragic hero Wednesday.
“My mental state has always been, after an injury, to give it a try,” Favre said. “It'd be easy to just go, 'Ah, I can't do it.' But once again, all the things that I've accomplished, so many great things that I've accomplished after injuries, and not necessarily the next week, but the whole year, it's basically to be willing to take it on. It's not that it doesn't hurt. And I can't say that this would hurt you more than it hurts me. I don't know that. But it would appear that way just based on what I've been able to overcome.”
Favre revealed that he spoke Tuesday with Childress and that “I wanted to address to him that I would like to play or at least have that mindset as the week progresses.” But will Childress allow him?
As we all know by now, Favre and Childress have a distant, at best, relationship -- one that was on full public display after Sunday night’s 28-24 loss to the Green Bay Packers. Favre threw three interceptions in that game, is tied for the NFL lead with 10 this season and has hardly resembled his 2009 self.
Childress couldn’t contain his enmity Sunday night and you wonder if he considers the injury the excuse he needs to relieve Favre (temporarily) of his duties.
Of their discussion Tuesday, Favre said: “We’ve been able to talk about things but we don’t necessarily agree.”
So on one hand you have a quarterback who limps up to a podium and, one by one, ticks off the previous instances of his well-documented ability to heal quickly and compartmentalize pain. On the other hand, you have a coach who is livid about the quarterback’s on-field mistakes and hasn’t expressed much optimism about the condition of his ankle.
“I wouldn’t put it past him,” was the most Childress would muster.
The earliest Favre would practice is Friday, and Childress said he needs to see some “movement skills that indicate” he is ready to play before Sunday’s 4:15 p.m. ET kickoff.
Childress did make clear, however, that sentiment will play no role in his decision.
“We’ll do what’s best for us to win a football game on Sunday,” Childress said. “That’s hands down what my motives will be.”
Favre said he is “very proud” of his streak but added it “probably should have ended a long time ago.” Still, it was a treat listening to him explain that his only goal is to play in order to help the Vikings win Sunday.
“I know it makes for good TV, talking about the streak and will it end, will this be the injury that stops him or whatever,” Favre said. “Whether it ends this week or it ends at the end of the year, it ends, and I will always be proud of it. In the game of football, every week, it's a crapshoot with injuries, and I've been able to overcome a lot. ... I'm thankful that up to this point I've been able to play with whatever, how many games in a row. It's all about being able to help this team win and getting us back on track. That's the only thing I'm concerned about.”
Favre sent X-rays of his foot to the office of Dr. James Andrews, who performed unrelated surgery on the same ankle this spring. According to Favre, one of Andrews’ partners -- Dr. Erik Nilssen -- told him there was no risk of further damage by playing on it. But in what I’m sure was an unintentional slip of the tongue – yeah, right -- Favre quoted Nilsson as saying: “You know, I'm not going to say you couldn't play with this. I don't know of any in recent memory, if any, that have played with it. But given the fact that you've played with a lot of different injuries I'm not going to say it can't be done.”
Will our hero heal with miraculous speed, returning just in time to save the day? Or will the coach get his way once and for all? Tune in next time…