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One phone call from Brad Childress changed everything.
The Vikings' coach called Brett Favre on Monday and broached the possibility of the future Hall of Fame quarterback coming out of retirement. This time, Favre said yes, and on Tuesday, he was in Minnesota signing his contract and throwing the ball at practice.
Favre said he's playing for the Vikings not out of revenge but because of the opportunity to win another Super Bowl and his love for the sport.
"It was different. I'm not going to lie to you," Favre said of putting on a Vikings helmet for the first time. "Sixteen years playing in Green Bay were great years. That was home to me. Some great games against this organization, some we won and some we lost. I think in time, it will feel — it feels great. The bottom line is, it's football. Once people start chasing you, I don't look at the helmets. I look at the faces. I think the guys will know I'm in it for the right reasons."
It's been assumed Favre wanted to play for Minnesota to get revenge against the Packers for moving in another direction. Not so, Favre said.
"This is not revenge or anything like that, believe me," he said, adding later that he has no "ill feelings" but wished things were handled differently on both sides.
Favre will start at quarterback for the Vikings on Friday against Kansas City.
"We believe adding a player such as Brett Favre to our mix will be a strong positive for this football team," Childress said in a statement. "As we have conveyed before, his unique knowledge of our system, the NFC North and his innate skills make this a rare opportunity. We felt there was a brief window to reconsider the possibility and we owed it to the organization to evaluate our options. After thorough discussion, the same variables that made this a unique and positive situation previously, still exist. Now, our attention turns to getting to work as a team, our next practice and preparing for the season."
Favre signed a two-year contract worth $25 million, including $12 million this year. It will be guaranteed once he takes his first snap.
Favre elected to stay retired on July 28, because Dr. James Andrews, who performed the surgery to mend Favre's biceps, found a tear in Favre's rotator cuff. That scared Favre. But not Childress and the Vikings.
"I felt like if they were willing to take that chance, I was too," Favre said.
Favre called playing for the Vikings a "perfect fit" because of the talent and the familiarity with the offensive scheme. Our Packer Report poll shows fans are angered by a more than 2-to-1 ratio. Favre, however, seems unfazed by the potential harm this will do to his legacy.
"I think if you're true Packer fans, you understand," he said. "Will it be different? Sure it will. If you're a true fan, you say, ‘You know what? He chose to continue playing. They chose to go in another direction. It's part of the business. Once again, this is a perfect fit."
News of Favre's decision broke during the middle of the Packers' morning practice.
"I'm not surprised by it," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "I don't think anybody should be surprised by it."
With Favre on board, that means two titanic clashes between the Packers and Vikings: at Minnesota on Oct. 5 and Favre's return to Lambeau Field on Nov. 1.
The locker room was buzzing with the news, which Ryan Grant announced after watching a television in the nearby trainers' room.
Last year, Packers and league insiders believed the drama surrounding Favre played a role in the 6-10 season. Now, that circus is going back to Minnesota after spending much of the offseason there.
For months, it's been speculated and rumored that Favre would play for the Vikings — his motives probably mixed. The iconic quarterback's desire to stick it to his old general manager, Ted Thompson, and the obvious desire to win a Super Bowl on the loaded Vikings surely have fueled the fire.
During his weekly news conference, Thompson steered clear of the news. Thompson's decision to not welcome Favre back to the team last July is believed to be a big reason why Favre is signing with the Vikings.
"Frankly, I haven't received any inside information even more than you guys have," Thompson said. "But we're still focused on getting our team ready for this weekend and certainly getting them ready for the first game against Chicago. If that in fact is the case (Favre signing with the Vikings), there will be plenty of time to focus on that."
Favre arrives in Minnesota after skipping about three weeks of training camp — including the stay in the dorms at Mankato. Several Packers veterans were asked how they'd feel about one player apparently receiving special treatment by the coaching staff and front office.
"It shouldn't (bother anyone)," cornerback Charles Woodson said. "If you think he's going to help you win, you don't care about that."
Another veteran shared that assessment, but when the TV cameras left, he shook his head and said all would be fine in the locker room — but only if Favre played at a high level.
"What did he do at the end of last year?" he asked.
That Favre is under contract with the Packers' bitter rivals shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. When Favre announced on July 28 that he was going to stay retired, he told NFL Network's Steve Mariucci — a close friend and former Packers assistant — that he was going to continue throwing.
"We've all been down this road before," Woodson said. "If he plays, he plays. I wish him well."
"Was there any doubt that he was going to do that? I don't think anybody was too shocked about that," Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher told The Chicago Tribune's Vaughn McClure.
So, circle Oct. 5 and Nov. 1. In the understatement of the decade, Thompson said: "These are tough rivalry games, and I would expect it to be that way again."
"We always look forward to playing the Vikings," McCarthy said. "I don't think that will ever change here in Green Bay."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.