Favre Reverses Field Yet Again, Unretires To Become A Viking

August 19, 2009|By Sam Farmer | Sam Farmer,Tribune Newspapers

Brett Favre's last-second comebacks used to be the stuff of legend.

Now, they're punch lines.

The 39-year-old quarterback returned to the NFL yet again Tuesday, signing a one-year deal with Minnesota that in the minds of many instantly elevates the Vikings to Super Bowl contenders.

His decision came three weeks after he ended talk of a comeback with Minnesota on the eve of training camp, saying he would stay retired.

This is Favre's second unretirement in 17 months, the first coming in a failed experiment with the New York Jets last season. According to various reports, the Vikings' one-year deal will match the $12 million the Jets paid him.

"I felt I did everything I possibly could do to get where I need to be," said Favre, who had offseason surgery to repair a torn biceps in his throwing arm, an injury suffered last season with the Jets.

"You're 39, your arm may not feel like it did at 21. But the pieces are in place that you don't have to do that much and I agree with that. If they were willing to take that chance, I was, too."

Vikings coach Brad Childress said: "We believe adding a player such as Brett Favre to our mix will be a strong positive for this football team. As we have conveyed before, his unique knowledge of our system, the NFC North and his innate skills make this a rare opportunity."

It didn't hurt on the business side, either. The Vikings, who last season needed an extension to sell enough tickets to avert a blackout for a playoff game, are seeing a positive effect at the ticket window. The team sold 2,000 season tickets and 6,000 single-game tickets in the hours after Favre signed, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The news was a bit more sobering to Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels, who had been competing for the Vikings' starting quarterback job. They will take a back seat to Favre.

"We knew all along that this was a possibility," Jackson said. "You can't always believe what you hear, especially on TV."

Rosenfels, who came to the Vikings this offseason in a trade with the Houston Texans, wasn't happy about the development but said he understands it.

"It's something that wasn't a total shock," Rosenfels told reporters. "Obviously this has been three months in the ongoing sort of thing. So for me personally, this wasn't what I was hoping for. I tried to get traded here and got traded here.

"But in my nine years, this is the best football team I've ever been on. We have so much talent. If the team needs me this year, when the team needs me this year, I'm going to be ready."

In addition to Favre, a three-time NFL Most Valuable Player, the Vikings have Adrian Peterson, the league's 2008 rushing champion, and a defense that ranked No. 1 against the run last season.

Unlike Favre's past flirtations with the Vikings, this time things came together with remarkable speed. Favre hopped a private jet Tuesday morning from his home in Hattiesburg, Miss., and landed at a small airport in St. Paul, Minn. Ninety minutes later - after waving to hundreds of cheering fans outside the team's facility in Eden Prairie - he was taking snaps at practice for the Vikings.

Meanwhile, news of the signing rippled through the league.

In Green Bay, Wis., where Favre carved out a Hall of Fame-worthy career, a former teammate joked he's looking forward to seeing him in the uniform of the enemy.

"I think he's a great quarterback, a great guy, a great leader," Packers linebacker Nick Barnett said. "Would I like to hit him? Hell, yeah, I'd like to hit him. All these damn practices out here and they didn't let us hit him."

They will get their first chance Oct. 5, when the Packers visit Minnesota for a Monday night game. Favre will step onto Lambeau Field in Vikings gear Nov. 1.

"The bottom line is it's football," Favre said. "Once you step into the huddle, I don't look at the helmets. I look at the faces."

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