Vikings, Favre say it's all on his shoulder

The Vikings discussed Brett Favre to their fan base Wednesday night in Minneapolis. Earlier in the day, Favre discussed his health in Mississippi. The conclusion from both was the same: The quarterback's return to the NFL depends on the recovery of his shoulder from surgery.

The Vikings and Brett Favre have officially reached the Long Distance Confessions stage of their relationship.

In two very different parts of the country – Favre on a high school football field in Mississippi and Zygi Wilf, Brad Childress and Rick Spielman at the State Theatre in Minneapolis, all have essentially conceded that if their current infatuation is going to continue, it's up to Favre.

At the first "State of the Vikings" event for season-ticket holders, Wilf made it clear that the Vikings are interested and, just as obviously, Favre is interested about trying another comeback. Wilf made it clear that, if the quarterback's health permits, the Vikings would consider him an upgrade.

"Be it Brett Favre or anybody else, we will do the most we can to get the players we need to be a better team," Wilf said. "Right now, it's up to Brett Favre to determine where his future is at and we'll just leave it at that."

Childress referenced Favre's appearance on Monday's "Joe Buck Live" on HBO, which, thanks to a later segment featuring bawdy jokester Artie Lange of the "The Howard Stern Show," may never air again. In it, Favre admitted much of what has been speculated – he and the Vikings are the only suitors looking to hook up and he's trying to make it happen.

"He kind of said what he needed to say," Childress said. "He's trying to make a push to get back and I just know this – he won't play unless he feels like he's capable of playing at the levels he has played over the course of his years. But I know he's working at it."

How that is going is still pretty questionable. About three weeks off of surgery, Favre threw a football to some players at a high school field in Hattiesburg, Miss. – the standard starting off point of Favre action sightings.

In a television interview with WDAM-TV of Hattiesburg (can't help but love those call letters), Favre said that he is trying to push himself to see how successful the surgery has been and what pain accompanies the throwing. If something isn't right, he won't return and, from the sounds of some of his comments, he sounded a little concerned about the early stages of his recovery.

"There is time, but there isn't time – if that makes sense," Favre said. "I don't need to wait for (training) camp to say it's 100 percent. I need to know before then and so do the Vikings."

That comment alone may have quelled some of the rumor and speculation in recent days that perhaps other teams might get involved in the Favre sweepstakes to increase his asking price, but once again it seems clear that if Favre is to return to the NFL in 2009, it's Vikings or bust.

And, whether fans think getting back at the Packers is his only motivation, Favre made it clear that he won't come back unless he believes he is at 100 percent or as close as he's going to get.

"I threw the ball OK," Favre said. "But OK isn't good enough in the National Football League. At least not for me, so it's got to get better."

THURSDAY NOTES

  • About 1,200 season ticket holders attended the State of the Vikings event, which will likely become an annual event given the strong turnout and enthusiastic support of the fan base.

  • One of the questions that was asked by fans at the State of the Vikings concerned Antoine Winfield, who has missed all of the team's offseason program. Spielman said that the Vikings continue ongoing negotiations on a potential contract extension, but one has to wonder if extending Winfield will happen if the Vikings have to pony up on a one-year deal with Favre.

    "Antoine is a great football player for us," Spielman said, needing to pause for cheers from the crowd. "It's an ongoing process and ongoing negotiation. It's all part of the business. We're going to do everything we can because Antoine is such an important part of our team. I know Coach Childress identifies some guys that are core guys and we try to keep them all together as long as we can. Hopefully we'll have the same success with Antoine."

  • What kind of a contract the Vikings work out with Favre if and when he returns could be loaded with incentives that, if the Vikings enjoy success and Favre stays healthy, could come with a $10 million-plus price tag.

  • The list of NFL teams partnering with states to co-brand a scratch-off lottery ticket has increased to six. The Ravens announced Wednesday that they have reached an agreement with the State of Maryland for a lottery ticket to bear the team logo and the Saints are expected to do likewise this week in Louisiana. The Patriots, Redskins and Texans have already signed agreements to be part of a scratcher ticket and the Cowboys are said to have a tentative agreement already in place. This could be an avenue the state and Vikings could use to help fund a new stadium, but it isn't expected to be significantly enough to bridge a big gap without asking the State Legislature for public assistance.


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