Wednesday, May 6, 2009 Updated: May 7, 10:54 AM ET
He's a waffler, but he's worth watching
By Gene Wojciechowski ESPN.com
I know what some of you are thinking about this Brett Favre-in-The Color Purple-scenario: He's animal crackers, he's almonds and cashews -- nuts, he's absolutely lost the football laces to his mind.
And even though I'm the resident ESPN defender of all things Favre (with the exception of those Wrangler commercials, the ones in which male models try to block for Favre in a pick-up football game), I understand where you're coming from on this. You've had it with the multiple retirements, the comebacks, the waffling. You want him on a riding lawnmower in Mississippi or in a television booth come September. Anywhere but in an NFL uniform and in a huddle, right?
But one person's Favre fatigue is another person's possible quarterback answer. And that person is Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress, who at least owes it to himself and his team to kick the tires on the No. 4-mobile.
I don't know whether the 39-year-old Favre has another season in him, but I'd like to find out. Because for all the Favre-related complaining and eye-rolling by his critics and skeptics, the NFL is more interesting with him than without him.
Can he still play? Until a torn right biceps tendon affected his arm strength, it looked like he could. The New York Jets won five more games with Favre as their QB than they did a season earlier. Favre stunk it up down the stretch, but he wasn't the only Jet with an odor. It was a team of finger-pointers -- some of them anonymously pointed at Favre -- who played the convenient blame game.
Old or not, the Green Bay Packers thought he could still play a season ago -- just not for them. But that didn't stop Packers management from inserting a poison pill clause in Favre's Jets deal. Trade him to a team in the NFC North -- home of the Packers, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears and Favre's original post-Green Bay choice, the Vikings -- and the Jets would owe Green Bay three first-round picks.
If Favre and his sometimes knuckleheaded agent, Bus Cook (see Cook's comments comparing his client Jay Cutler to Tom Brady and the Manning brothers), manipulated the circumstances to create a 2009 opportunity with the Vikings, then good for them. After all, the Packers manipulated the circumstances to limit Favre's playing opportunities in 2008. All's fair in trade clauses and retirement announcements.
Even if you can't stand the idea of another Favre unretirement, you have to admire him for working his way around a system usually stacked in favor of the teams, not the players. But however he got to this point, either by plan or accident, Favre could be a Viking soon.
The Vikings need a quarterback. They have enough of everything else to make a serious playoff run, but they don't have a quarterback who inspires anything else but yawns.
Tarvaris Jackson has potential, but we've been saying that for three years now. Jackson has never completed more than 59.1 percent of his passes in any of those three seasons. If the Vikings were convinced he was the answer, they wouldn't be chatting with Favre.
The same goes for Sage Rosenfels, whom the Houston Texans traded for a 2009 fourth-round pick. As a backup and five-game starter, Rosenfels thrilled Texans fans with a 6-touchdown, 10-interception season. So now you know why the Vikings are talking to Favre.
If the Vikes buy Favre an engagement ring, the team instantly becomes a better team. Not Super Bowl better, but maybe better than the 10-6 record they had a year ago while winning their division. Favre wouldn't cost them a draft pick. He probably wouldn't cost them what the Jets paid him in 2008 ($12.7 million). And he wouldn't be showing up in early August.
Schedule handicapping is dicey stuff, but for what it's worth, the Vikings open at home against Cleveland, travel to the Detroit Staffords, play San Francisco at home and then play, ta-da, the Packers on Monday Night Football on Oct. 5 in the Metrodome.
They play the Rams in St. Louis, Baltimore at home, then go to Pittsburgh, followed by a trip to Green Bay on Nov. 1. Think about it: Favre at Lambeau in purple.
Then it's home games against Detroit, Seattle and Chicago, a road trip to Arizona, home against Cincy, away games at Carolina and Chicago (Dec. 28) and then home against the Giants.
Do the math because I can't. I have no idea how it will play out, but I'm guessing the rest of the NFC North would rather face the Vikings without Favre in the lineup.
If Favre is doing this to stick it to the Packers, then it's the wrong kind of comeback for the wrong kind of reasons. Despite their messy divorce, Favre and the Packers will forever be joined at the chinstrap.
But if he can still play, and compete, and win, then there's nothing wrong with another retirement reversal. Vikings fans won't mind; why should you?
I hope The Waffler returns. I hope he stays healthy. Most of all, I hope my plasma works on Oct. 5 and Nov. 1.
Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at email@example.com. Hear Gene's podcasts and ESPN Radio appearances by clicking here.