Opinion: Delay should have been expected

Brett Favre has a quick release on the field, but off the field he's quite comfortable taking his time, which is why everyone should have expected from the outset that his decision would take this long.

Sunday's report that Brett Favre might not be ready to commit to playing again just yet shouldn't be a shock to anyone who has followed Favre's career the last few years. Favre has given his teary-eyed good-bye speech before, but it seems he will always relent to his competitive juices and return.

ESPN reported that the Vikings sent offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell to Mississippi to attend a throwing session in which Favre launched about 100 passes. Turns out that "Favre also warned the Vikings representatives that he might be forced to delay a decision on whether to play until just before the team opens training camp," according to the report, "… because he wants to be totally confident that he can provide the team with 16-plus healthy starts before doing so."

While those may be aggravating words for fans (not to mention coaches and potential teammates) who were hoping for a resolution soon, it can hardly be a surprise. That's been the way that Favre has operated for years. He contemplated retirement before last season, but his March 6, 2008, his teary-eye press conference was the most convincing evidence that he could be done playing football in the NFL.

But that wasn't good enough to convince former teammate Darren Sharper, who turned out to be right on with his second-guessing of the legend. In fact, Favre didn't even wait for that month of March to be completed before he told the Packers he might want to return. Less than a week later, he decided that he would stay retired, according to a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel account of his retirement contemplation timeline.

A month later, the Packers selected Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn in the NFL draft and began in earnest to really set the stage for former first-round pick Aaron Rodgers' ascent to the starting role.

At the end of Green Bay's organized team activities and minicamps, Favre told Packers coach Mike McCarthy on June 20 that he might return. On July 8, Favre's agent, Bus Cook, told McCarthy and Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson that Favre wanted to return, at which time the Packers said they were moving on without Favre. However, the team didn't want to simply release Favre and make him available to any other team (read: the Vikings or Bears), so they denied his official request for a release on July 11.

Less than a week later, the team filed tampering charges against the Vikings, an accusation that wasn't upheld once the NFL conducted its investigation.

Favre pressed the issue further when he said he would report to Packers training camp instead of just letting it all go away. While he didn't show up for camp when it opened, likely at the team's request, he did fly to Green Bay a week later, met with McCarthy for five hours and eventually flew home while the Packers started trade talks. Favre's statements and his official request for reinstatement back into the league were enough to get the Packers to relent, and on Aug. 6 the Packers traded Favre to the New York Jets.

That was exactly five months of drama and speculation from the time Favre said his teary good-byes in front of the cameras in Green Bay until he donned the green of another team. The Packers tried to get him to stay retired. They reportedly offered him a $20 million marketing deal. And, yet, two things always seemed to prevail: Favre's indecisiveness and his competitive desire to play.

And that seems to be exactly what is happening again. This time, he's not sure his shoulder is quite good enough to play, but he knows where he wants to play and where he will play if (more likely when) he gets past that final hurdle in his comeback. There is little doubt the Vikings are the one and only team Favre wants to lead.

While it looks like that will happen in the next few weeks with a contract signing, the uncertainty for the Vikings may in the long-term rather than the short-term. The team likely would offer Favre a two-year contract so it holds his rights for 2010. But, as the Packers have known for the past couple of seasons and the Vikings are learning this summer, the offseason seems to be Favre's on-season for publicity and indecision.

A signing in the next few weeks might only foreshadow another four months of controversy next summer for No. 4.

If that were happen, you could almost see the conga line of cacklers forming to the east of Minnesota and heading across the border on from I-90 and 94, and the only thing that would halt the heckles would be Favre actually giving the Vikings their long-awaited Super Bowl.


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