Love him or hate him – and there are plenty people on both sides of his polarizing persona – Brett Favre brought a star quality about him to the Vikings. As he enters what is almost surely his last game as a player – really, this time we believe him – his success has fallen off but influence remains great.
Favre arrived in 2009 and took the franchise on his shoulders, having his best season as a pro (his analysis). But this year his shoulders have failed the team, and just about every other body part has failed him in his pursuit for one last season of glory. The result has been more of a season of gory.
Scandal has followed him and losses have lingered, as have the injuries. But when stepping away from the disappointing record and inability to avoid one injury after another, there is a positive influence Favre had on the team, especially the younger players who looked up to him as they were growing up.
"I can't even put it into words," receiver Percy Harvin said about Favre's influence. "Me and Brett Favre talked about some things I don't even know if he'd share with other people, as far as on- and off-the-field situations. So he's helped me tremendously. I don't know if I'd be this progressed into my second season if it wasn't for him, along with a lot of the other veterans, but he's meant a lot."
When Favre hasn't been able to practice, he has spent time on the other side of the ball helping to direct receivers in reading coverages and giving them tips on how to create separation. Favre has never played receiver, but his 20 years of experiencing and developing productive receivers in Green Bay has taught him a thing or two about how the quarterback and receiver work hand in hand.
"This year, I think the biggest thing I'm working on was just being patient. I got the skill set, I believe in myself, to outrun people, to out-physical them," Harvin said. "Just him realizing that if I slow down I can create that much more separation and it's been working great for me."
Those tips also appear to be benefitting Joe Webb, who has taken over for Favre since he suffered his concussion on Dec. 20 on the frozen FieldTurf of TCF Bank Stadium. With Webb making his first start in the NFL last week, Harvin produced a 100-yard game, accounting for more than half of the team's passing yards.
Part of the reason for Webb's early success against a blitz-happy Eagles defense was Favre's help from the sidelines.
"Brett, he gave me great tips. Every time I came off the field, he would just see little things that he'd tell me and then the next series I would go back out there and try to point out what he was telling me and try to execute on that," Webb said.
"He pointed out the blitzes, telling me how the (defensive backs) are playing. … Just being alert of those guys coming off the edge on my blind side and things like that."
Favre has tried to convey those tips on defenses to the receivers too, and not just during the game. Harvin said he entered the league in 2009 with a solid background of learning how to study film at the University of Florida, but spending time in the film room with Favre took it to another level. They would text each other strategies.
Favre is listed as doubtful for today's regular-season finale because of that concussion, but no one will completely count him out. If he can play, he will start, and Harvin would love to send him out with a win.
"It's not the championship we wanted him to ride off on, but a win I think would send him off in a good way, knowing all the other things he achieved. So we'll play hard and try to get this win for him and try to get some momentum for our team going into this offseason," Harvin said.
"It sunk in a little bit that I actually played with maybe, arguably, the best quarterback to ever play this game and it's unbelievable. It's a true blessing to be able to tell people that."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Sunday slant: Favre helping while sidelined
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