VU: How stunned were you by the Brett Favre news?
BL: It took my gut out. I was just like Gary Anderson, I kept going wide to the left. I was literally in shock. There was no way I didn't believe he wasn't coming. Maybe he might still come and doesn't want to go to training camp. You don't need these OTAs and all the other stuff they have for veterans. If you're not smart enough to pick up the game plan in training camp, you shouldn't be in the National Football League. There is still a chance he would come, but I was totally taken aback. Everybody I talked to, and if you read about coach Brad Childress calling him and the players texting him and the whole works, it was constant communication. Everybody thought he was coming. That's our weak link and I just thought he was the missing piece to the puzzle to take us that one step further rather easily.
The part that really broke my heart is that, unless Sage Rosenfels can do this, when they throw nine in the box, you've got to be able to read fast enough to hit your tight end or your fourth read. Get the defense to get out of nine in the box constantly because that's going to make Adrian Peterson a better runner and I was looking at it from that standpoint as well. I had all the expectations. I was CRUSHED.
VU: What sort of a difference did you think it was going to make during the season from a record standpoint?
BL: At least three wins. It would have made that big of a difference. Quarterbacks in the past have lost games for us. You never blame one player, but I think Donovan McNabb beat the Vikings and Tarvaris Jackson lost it for them on the playoff game. They had home-field advantage and the quarterback that played the best won the game. I think the last two years, other than Gus Frerotte, it's a situation where the quarterback has lost the game and not won it. It does come down to having a quarterback pull out some great audible calls and executing under crunch time. I'm hoping Rosenfels can do that for them because Tarvaris Jackson has three years in and I don't see brilliance out there, other than his last three minutes against Denver in his rookie year.
VU: How hard do you think it's going to be to sell these players on moving forward after a lot of them were hoping they'd get the chance to play with Favre?
BL: Not hard at all. They have a veteran team and they're going to come in prepared the same way they've always been prepared. If you have the mentality that one player is going to affect the outcome of your season, you really have problems. You have got to take on your responsibility and address it professionally. Remember, there are backups that can play. Brad Johnson did go down in 1998 and I can't remember how they finished or who came off the bench [dripping sarcasm] to lead that 15-1 season. The quarterbacks have to handle it. If the backups are prepared, Favre or no Favre wouldn't affect how Rosenfels or Jackson play. If they are thinking about all those different things that they have no control over and losing what they do control, they've got problems. They're not going to see 10 years in the National Football League.
VU: You think once they are in camp that all of this is behind them and won't affect them?
BL: It didn't affect them before camp started. The media made it seem like it affected them. The media was asking the dumbest questions in the world. They'd throw out so many different scenarios and then draw their own conclusions. The media blows it way out of proportion on certain issues, and this is one of them. Would it have been nice to have a Hall of Fame-caliber quarterback in there? Sure. Would he have been the total answer? We don't really know. Maybe he would have come in and had his highest interception year ever. We don't know. But, with his credentials and they do have the weak link at quarterback – and that's Brad Childress' strength, we always talk about that and he openly admitted that they have a quarterback problem. He was addressing it by trying to get the best possible player at that position. You go year by year. You do not need a 10-year fix at any position when the life expectancy of a player is 3.7 years. Your window of opportunity can be a couple, three years sometimes. There can always be an exception to that, but they have a few aging players – Pat Williams is aging, Darren Sharper is gone now. The window of opportunity is right now. And the weakest part of the football team before camp started was quarterback.
VU: Would you be in favor of them pursuing Michael Vick?
BL: Michael Vick is the biggest loser. I would hope that not one Vikings fan would go to a game if Michael Vick were here. Zygi Wilf – who I love and has a passion for football going back to when I was with the New York Giants and he was in the locker room when I was a player – if he threw that at the fans, that would be the worst slap in the face and that would make him a total liar. If he has passion for the game, he shouldn't tear it down by bringing in a Michael Vick to play. People are going to say, ‘Give him a second chance.' He lied to the judge, he lied to Roger Goodell, he lied to so many people and was so discredited time after time after time after time. There comes a point when kids in this society have to know there are consequences if you step overboard. Bringing him in would be a slap in the face to any fan in the National Football League, I don't care what team it is. I know Zygi Wilf would never even entertain the idea of bringing him back.
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 VikingUpdate.com for a weekly Q & A session, and his monthly column appears in the magazine.
Lurtsema's Reaction: Favre, strong Vick take
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