In this changing world it should be reassuring that some things never change. However, when one of those non-changing things is the “will-he-play-or-not” dance between the Minnesota Vikings and Brett Favre, it’s debatable just how reassuring sameness really is.
Reading the paper this week I was having a serious case of déjà vu. Once again Brad Childress was in Mississippi chatting with Brett Favre and trying to find out if he wants to come back for another season in the NFL. Once again every sports reporter worth his jockstrap* is asking every Vikings player and coach he can find if they think Favre is going to play for the Vikings. Once again, no one will probably know anything until after training camp.
Last year Brett Favre proved that he could miss training camp and play football just fine. Better than fine. With the Vikings Brett Favre posted one of his best years ever. That strikes me as an incredible fete considering that even if his mechanics were great he still didn’t know his teammates and what their tendencies and abilities were.
Maybe it’s because I’m drawing on last year’s experience where I got all worked up about the possibility of Favre coming to Minnesota, despaired when he refused, and then rejoiced when Childress picked him up at the airport, but I’m promising myself that this year will be different. This year I will not succumb to apoplexy with every little update on what the MVP quarterback thinks or feels. Nope, I’m practicing being cool as a cucumber, taking deep cleansing breaths, and just waiting this one out. Valium may also be employed to keep me in a Zen-like mindset. And I think there is some justification for that approach.
With the exception of the loss of Chester Taylor and Artis Hicks and the addition of Toby Gerhart, the offense is essentially the same as it was last year. So unlike this time last year, Favre knows his teammates and their capabilities. Seems to me that would be a very important factor in Favre’s decision-making process. He can weigh what he knows of those players against their chances of winning a championship.
He also knows that, with the possible exception of Tavaris Jackson, his teammates appreciated him and want him back—no training camp, no problem. By all accounts, the Vikings players embraced Brett Favre like a legend, a coach, and a friend all rolled into a grubby hat and hooded sweatshirt. Loyalty and admiration seem to have been part of the intangible “it” factor that helped the Vikings to win the NFC north last season for the second year in a row. For as much as football players are professionals who are paid to perform, and for as much as they are also competitors who want to win because they like it, after a loss Vikings players routinely expressed sadness that they hadn’t won for Favre. Are you kidding me? There’s a dome full of fans, there’s an even larger audience watching on television, there are disgruntled owners and coaches, but the players said they wanted to win for Brett Favre.
To a guy who felt, justified or not, as if the Green Bay Packers gave him the professional equivalent of “It’s not us, it’s you” and “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out”, knowing that nearly everyone (again, T-Jack might not be so keen on it) in the organization appreciates his contribution and wants him to return has to be like ambrosia. More than any assurances Childress and Rick Spielman make, I would imagine that all that goodwill and appreciation could be the deciding factor.
So, that is why I’m going to keep practicing my yoga breathing and make an effort not to get too worried every time Coach Childress mutters into is mustache something inconclusive about the Favre situation.
*Yes, I know there are some women who report on football, but, by and large, the area is dominated by men.