Lurtsema's Reaction: Defending Favre

Former Vikings and New York Giants defensive lineman Bob Lurtsema knows what it's like to play pro football in New York, and he thinks that may have something to do with some comments former teammates made about Favre. Lurtsema also addresses the receivers' responsibilities in a Favre-run offense, what Favre would do the Mankato atmosphere and, finally, a take on Percy Harvin getting ill again.

VU: One of the things floating around about Brett Favre is that some of his teammates felt he wasn't really part of the team out in New York with a separate changing area. What are your feelings about that?

BL: Having spent five years with the New York Giants, that town could eat a player alive because you have absolutely no private life. The New York Giants have the most educated fans in the National Football League from what I've seen, and that's not to put down the Vikings fans that I truly love. But the most knowledgeable that I've seen have come from New York. Brett was 38 years old, so he didn't go out a lot with the younger kids. I noticed during the latter part of my career, when I was 36, you do change your habits a little bit from what you did when you were 25 or 26 years old. I think everybody knows what I'm talking about there. Having his own individual changing area, Fran Tarkenton had special privileges and he was to a degree separated from the team at times. Nobody thought a thing about it. If a player is complaining about it, some young guy, give me his name and I'll watch him and I guarantee that kid won't be around because he doesn't understand that certain players do get special treatment. It's no different than Jim Marshall in the latter part of his career. Jim played once a week and I played five days a week because I'd take his spot in practice and he'd take my spot during the game. No animosity, that's the way it was. You did your role to fill in whatever gap had to be filled to help make your team successful. Maybe in those last few games when those Jets players started whining and crying, maybe it wasn't all Brett Favre why they went 1-5 in those last games. I'd look at the players that were criticizing.

VU: Obviously, Favre knows the system in Minnesota, but how long do you think it takes a guy to get used to the new personnel around him, timing with the receivers and things like that?

BL: With his situation, it's different. Number one, he does know the system because he had Darrell Bevell for five years as a Green Bay Packers coach. The receivers had better wake up. There is going to be more pressure on the receivers than Brett Favre because Brett knows the routes. If you're the fourth receiver, he'll get to you a lot faster than Tarvaris Jackson will. He'll read that much quicker. That's going to make the receiver much more alert, as far as being on their toes and running the exact routes. When you have a true Hall of Famer, the best in the business as a gunslinger, it's a lot easier to make adjustments than if you have a quarterback who is not that good and a receiver who is not that good. I don't think it's a two-way street. I'd put more of the pressure on the receivers and I'll watch that very closely at training camp because Brett Favre does read so fast. It's the receivers' responsibility to pick up their game. Favre will be there. He'll give you 110 percent. You don't have to question where he's going to the throw it or what he's going to do. So the receivers just need to do their job and don't make a mental mistake.

VU: How much different of an atmosphere do you expect Mankato to be if Brett Favre is there?

BL: Did Michael Jackson get much media attention when he passed away? It will be a zoo. He's going to stir the pot that has to be stirred and hasn't been stirred in quite a few years. He's the one that's going to bring it there. I think the fans are going to try to get their true read on him. It's going to be wild down there. They always have a great turnout, but I know it's going to be a zoo down there and that's great. It's a positive attitude. Fvare's longevity speaks for itself. He loves the game as a player. It's nothing but positive energy and that's contagious. Many times I've talked about being in Mankato and there is a certain group of players that play cards between practices and another group that would sit and talk about how hot it was and how tough Bud Grant was working us. The second group was never the same year after year, but the guys playing cards were always the same. It's attitude, nothing but positive energy.

VU: What's your take on Percy Harvin getting sick again at the rookie symposium?

BL: That's interesting because supposedly he was excused both times (the first time being for rookie minicamp). I've never heard of a player being sick like that two times. Being from the old school, if you were sick you'd still go out there and push it on the field before you'd admit that you were sick. I don't know what the situation is. I just hope that he's not the type of player that Bud Grant might think he is already. Bud always said it was predictable who is going to get hurt the first week. Right now, you look at Percy, who is not the biggest guy in town, and being sick during two big-time opportunities, I hope it's nothing more than a coincidence. But I have doubts about it because I hope the nerves situation isn't affecting the chemistry of his body. I'm no doctor, obviously. I'm just an old man who only missed two days of practice in 12 years so I have a different outlook on it.

Bob Lurtsema registered 57 regular-season sacks and three in the playoffs during his 12-year career as a defensive lineman in the NFL, playing with the Baltimore Colts, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, and was the longtime publisher of Viking Update. He joins for a weekly Q & A session, and his monthly column appears in the magazine.

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