Years earlier, before the Vikings pumped millions of dollars into upgrading their facilities and putting fencing around the perimeter, Favre was likely in Green Bay studying covert film of the Vikings' practices as a member of Packers.
Now those same perimeter areas where the filming took place are covered with black tarp and holes were being taped shut to keep fans and other prying eyes from watching too much practice Tuesday. While they couldn't be fully seen, fans could be heard applauding behind the fence line protected by Vikings security officials.
In reality, there were no great secrets in Favre's first practice. He sauntered onto the field, shook hands with some defensive starters and patted the pads of Steve Hutchinson.
"You've got a Hall of Fame guy that's going to be a leader in the locker room. That's a pretty big impact," Hutchinson said after practice. "You've got another leader on offense. I think it's going to be a big plus for the team."
Then it was time to get to work. After stretching, Favre worked on the most basic of quarterback skills – taking a snap from his new center, first-year starter John Sullivan.
"It's exciting. You're talking about a Hall of Famer, one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. Hopefully he'll make the team better. We're excited to have him," Sullivan said.
Favre moved into playing catch with last Friday's starter, Sage Rosenfels, who was sitting out of practice with an ankle injury. When it came time to start individual work, Tarvaris Jackson took the first snap, but Favre moved in for the second pass, a completion to Darius Reynaud.
That was followed by a series of sloppy plays – first Vinny Perretta slipped, then Bobby Williams dropped a pass, followed by a Perretta drop, and Favre threw low to Glenn Holt. It was all part of the process, as inexperienced receivers seemed awed by Favre's presence, but once practice advanced to the seven-on-seven stages and full-team work, the connections improved.
During the installation period, Favre connected with first-round draft pick Percy Harvin, then running back Chester Taylor and receiver Jaymar Johnson, who made a diving reception.
"He really appeared to know it pretty well. He came in here and took some snaps right away," said receiver Bobby Wade. "Obviously the terminology might change a little bit for him as far as concepts and ideas and patterns and routes and things like that, (but) I don't think they can get much different.
"I've never caught a ball from him before, but it was as nice as you can see them. Not that it was much different from the two other guys that were throwing the ball prior, but I think you won't be able to see any type of difference until there's a game. All in all, it's a great feeling."
In full-team work, Favre and Jackson split first-team reps, and Favre's first play in that session wasn't pretty. He turned around to hand the ball off to Chester Taylor and the two collided, quickly ending the play. They executed that play fine on the next snap, and there wasn't another moment like that during Favre's first practice.
He connected with Harvin again for about a 20-yard gain down the middle of the field.
"There was a lot of promise. You could see it in guys' eyes, a little different look or gleam in people's eyes," tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said. "People had a little bit extra jump here and there, so you could tell people were really excited, just like the pink elephant in the room."
A few more non-descript handoffs and short passes ensued before the play of the day – a long bomb down the right sideline from Favre to receiver Sidney Rice with cornerback Benny Sapp in coverage. Rice made the catch and said his feet were "definitely" in bounds.
"My job is just to catch the ball. No matter where it is I'm going to give my greatest effort to go get the ball," Rice said. "It was high. That was like one of the highest balls I have ever caught. So he gave me an opportunity to make a play on the ball and that was a good thing."
Favre said the offense came naturally for him, but he spent a good chunk of practice talking with head coach Brad Childress, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and quarterbacks coach Kevin Rogers.
Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson was asked if Favre talked to the team at practice and deadpanned, "Yeah, he called the plays."
Favre also brought a media contingent that was at least five times the normal size despite the short window of opportunity for national writers and television types to get to the Twin Cities to witness the spectacle that has become known as "Favre-a-palooza," a term coined by Shiancoe.
"It's always fun when the circus comes to town. I wish he would have brought all the trapeze artists and elephants and stuff," linebacker Ben Leber said.
The bottom line for the players is winning, and most of them believe Favre gives the Vikings a better chance at doing that.
"There is no question that Brett is going to make this team better," Shiancoe said. "I feel like he's the nucleus of this offense right now. I feel like he can step in there. He ran this offense for a long time, so I feel he can step in there and do this job."
TUESDAY PRACTICE NOTES