Brett Favre can be brutally honest sometimes. He talks about things in press conferences that sometimes frustrate coaches. He talks about old injuries that get ex-coaches and ex-teams fined for keeping them off the injury report.
But when it comes to self-assessments, Favre can shine the tough love back in his own face. He opened his press conference Wednesday joking that both he and a reporter's sport coat were old.
At 41 years old, Favre's a relic in the National Football League and seemingly becoming more brittle by the snap. With off-the-field allegations of inappropriate communication with a former Jets employee, Jenn Sterger, seemingly joined with every mention of his name and a return to his homefield for 16 years with the Packers, Favre has a lot weighing on him these days.
"Going back to Green Bay, the type of looks that they give you, the pressure, the magnitude of the game, I look old, gray and weary, crow's feet and all that stuff," Favre said. "It's just week-in, week-out grind of playing teams and every week it seems the games get bigger and the styles of defenses get more exotic and tougher to decipher. It seems like the level of play from the quarterback position here has to continue to go up. There's no middle ground so to speak."
That's probably why the 20-year veteran of the NFL admitted Wednesday that this is his last go-round in the league. It's now or never, and he's feeling weight of the world on his shoulders.
He already made the journey back to face the music from Packers fans last year and left Lambeau Field with a sense of great accomplishment and relief. This time around, when the Vikings travel to Green Bay for a nationally televised spectacle on prime time Sunday night, neither team is in first place in the division. Both teams were mentioned often as Super Bowl contenders during the preseason, but so far they are .500 (the Packers) or worse (the Vikings), and both are looking up at the Chicago Bears for the division title.
"Whether we're both undefeated or not, I think the significance of the game doesn't really change. Maybe subconsciously there's more, I don't want to say pressure, but the need to get it going. Maybe more so than any other time," Favre said. "For me, it was nerve-racking. I didn't know what to expect. I was concerned about how we'd play. I had never had that feeling before. When I went back there last year the whole thing just seemed surreal to me. I'd like to think that part of it is out of the way. It's still a special place to play and being on the opposite side just makes it a little bit different. I think the fact that we've already played that game I assume would help a little bit."
It's possible. The Vikings swept the Packers last year, in large part due to Favre's success against his old team.
In their Week 4 matchup at the Metrodome, Favre was masterful, completing 24 of 31 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns in a 30-23 win. In their Week 8 rematch at Lambeau Field, he was nearly as good, completing 17 of 28 passes for 244 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-26 Vikings win.
"We've viewed both games as very similar. Both the game in the Metrodome and the game at Lambeau, we did not play to the level we needed to, particularly in the first half," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "… As far as the build-up to the game, I think our players handled it well."
Favre handled it best. By the time he was done exacting revenge on the Packers, the Vikings were 7-1 and well on their way to the NFC North title.
This year is a different story. The Vikings are struggling offensively and Favre is dealing with the effects of ankle surgery in May and tendinitis in his throwing elbow.
"I think the cortisone injection has helped, but I'm reluctant to say, just knowing that I had tendinitis before, that it's gone. Especially the way I throw," Favre said. "(I'm) hardheaded; not wanting to take time off. Keep my fingers crossed, but right now it feels better."
If only he could say that about every part of his physical and emotional health.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Favre feeling, looking old
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