On Wednesday, the football saga of the summer had developing plots from three different parts of the country. In Minnesota, Vikings officials were acknowledging that they were waiting to see how Brett Favre's shoulder has responded to surgery. In Mississippi, Favre was testing that shoulder by throwing at Oak Grove High School and talking about the session. And in Green Bay, Packers players and coaches were generally following the company line that if Favre wants to play, he should play.
Several Packers issued a different version of that last sentiment. One was safety Anthony Smith, who is new to Green Bay this year, but he's still looking forward to the possibilities of playing against Favre in 2009.
"Only because he's one of the best quarterbacks ever to play the game," said Smith, according to the Associated Press. "To get a chance to play against him would be a great honor."
And to get an interception off Favre would be even better.
"Get one off the best!" Smith said. "Maybe I'll have him sign it or something."
There are still hurdles to be cleared before Smith would revel in the Vikings' misery that way. First, Favre's shoulder has to continue to heal following surgery that was performed either three or four weeks ago, depending on which account you trust more – Favre's words to WDAM in Hattiesburg, Miss., on Wednesday or his words on "Joe Buck Live" on Monday night.
"Four weeks will be Friday and Dr. Andrews said more or less four weeks you should know if it was completely successful," Favre told WDAM. "We know the surgery itself was successful. It cleared up what was bothering me, but maybe I throw differently, Maybe my mechanics have changed some, because that's what happened to me late in the year. My mechanics had changed some. My accuracy was affected."
Favre was throwing on Wednesday at his local high school and gave a mixed review on how that session went.
"I really felt it. Different places in my shoulder were sore, but I threw the ball OK. But OK is not good enough in the National Football League, at least it's not for me. So I've got to get better," he said. "I don't want to overdo it. There is time, but there isn't time, if that makes sense. I don't want to wait until camp to say, ‘OK, now it's 100 percent. I need to know before then and so do the Vikings."
Back in Minnesota, Vikings coach Brad Childress said Favre is "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 a level that he's played over the course of the years. I know he's working hard to get back."
But Childress gave perhaps his strongest endorsement yet on the potential Favre signing when asked if the unknown is becoming a distraction for the team.
"If distractions are good football players, then we'll take all the distractions that we can get," he said.
Favre even played along with the sentiment that he had changed his mind about retirement too often for people's liking. During the opening skit for his appearance on the HBO special on Monday night, Buck appeared in Favre's dressing room back stage and made him promise that he would show up on stage. Favre swore he'd be there – with his fingers crossed.
During an opening montage of Favre's last year-plus of retiring and changing his mind, the HBO special showed a sign from Lambeau Field that read, "Oh, Brett, never leave us." That was followed by a Favre press conference in which he said, "I'm not a traitor."
Favre admitted that series of video clips "was a little painful."
"I know people are tired of it, like we talked before the show. My intentions are not – although it's good for you – to create controversy," Favre told Buck, who had arranged the interview before Favre was released by the Jets, which opened up the Vikings speculation again. "The last three months, you're going, ‘Stir it, stir it.' But it is what it is. I haven't watched anything. Some of those things that you had in the piece I have seen. I did see satellite trucks outside our gate. I was sneaking out a back gate, which they didn't know. It's crazy, but I try not to pay any attention to it."
Packers fans have certainly been paying attention to it and the general sentiment is that Favre could ruin his Lambeau legacy if he signs with the Vikings.
"I think the 16 years that I spent in Green Bay speak for itself," Favre said.
"… I had former players, friends of mine, I had family, I had friends that say, ‘I can't picture you playing for anyone but Green Bay. I can't do it.' It's football. It's not life or death," he said.
He said as he got older, he paid less attention to his image in the media and the outside distractions. His focus was more on the game and, when he got away, his family.
"As I got older, I cared a lot less about what was going on aside from football," he said. "Playing is because I love to play. It's not because of the things that go along with it. People are going to take sides and say, ‘Hey, he's full of crap.' But I can't change that."
At this point, no matter how his shoulder reacts in the coming weeks, one side or another is likely to feel jilted.