‘No Doubt About It': It's Favre Week

The bitter divorce between Brett Favre and the Packers has kicked this rivalry up several notches. "Well, nothing surprises me in this business, it really doesn't," coach Mike McCarthy said. "I know the last time we talked face-to-face, he had a desire to play in Minnesota, so yeah, I'm not surprised by it."

It's one year later than Brett Favre wished, but he'll get his shot at the Green Bay Packers this week.

The hype machine got cranked up on Monday, one day after the Packers rebounded with a 36-17 victory and St. Louis and Favre threw a touchdown pass for the ages to send the Vikings past San Francisco in the final seconds.

It doesn't get much bigger than Packers-Vikings under normal circumstances, and the bitter divorce between Favre and the Packers has kicked this rivalry up several notches.

"Oh yeah, no doubt about it," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said when asked if beating Favre would make winning this game especially sweet. "Definitely. We want to beat the Vikings. We want to beat everybody on the Vikings, Brett Favre included. There is no doubt about that. Let's not ... yeah, we want to win the game."

That Favre Bowl I is on the schedule isn't surprising to McCarthy — even after a trade to New York included a poison-pill footnote that would have cost the Jets three first-round picks if they had traded Favre to Minnesota, Chicago or Detroit.

"Well, nothing surprises me in this business, it really doesn't," McCarthy said. "I've been around it long enough that there's no surprises. I know the last time we talked face-to-face (when Favre arrived in Green Bay to meet with McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson), he had a desire to play in Minnesota, so yeah, I'm not surprised by it."

While McCarthy made it clear he had no interest in rehashing the history of about 14 months ago — such as whether it would have made sense to simply trade Favre to the Vikings last year — he also couldn't hold back a smile when the topic inevitably turned to Favre.

"I think it's going to be a lot of fun when the game starts, personally," McCarthy said. "I think it's going to be a lot of fun because it's going to be a very competitive football game. It was definitely that type of game when he was on this side, so I think it's going to be a lot of fun. Now, outside of the pure football, me personally, answering all the questions and things that I feel that have nothing to do with the game, that's not something I wake up every day and am excited to do. But that's part of the deal, it's part of our business. But I think it's going to be a lot of fun when the ball's kicked off."

About five hours to the west, Vikings coach Brad Childress did his best to stick his head in the sand and pretend that Favre was simply some quarterback who happened to spend a few ho-hum seasons in Green Bay.

"I know it won't be crazy in here," Childress said. "The place won't be vibrating or anything like that. We just kind of go about our business and see what they're doing schematically and what we can play off of. I'm sure they're going to do the very, very same thing. Playing somebody in your division, obviously you know those games count like two. And then we're going to see them here in a short period of time in another month. So all the rivalry stuff, that will take care of itself. I know there is some mitigating circumstances, but for us, it will be a good week of preparation."

Those "mitigating circumstances" notwithstanding, Childress was onto something. Childress can pretend to be a police officer speaking through a megaphone and telling onlookers "there's nothing to see here" in the midst of a three-alarm fire at a fireworks factory, but like it or not, a circus atmosphere is going to surround this game.

The ability to focus on what's important — blocking, tackling and making the right reads — and tune out the juicy subplot will be vital for both teams.

"The message to the team is going to be about playing the game," McCarthy said. "We need to, No. 1, today, do the self-scout things that you do every Monday. Take care of the pulse of our team, the things that we need to work on, but I clearly am in tune with the size of this game outside the building. For us to play to our ability, we need to focus on ourselves. Nobody in our locker room, nobody on our coaching staff, nobody in the building, needs or will be writing checks that the rest of the team has to sign, me included. We need to stay focused on the football team and getting ready for the game. That's the facts. Our extracurricular involvement in the media coverage is going to be more than it has been to this point, no doubt about it, but it cannot factor into how we plan for this game."

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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 packwriter2002@yahoo.com, 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.

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