Bears players figure the signing of Brett Favre gives the Vikings a better team, but they know he's not the same player who, as a Packer, engineered 10 straight wins and fashioned an 18-2 record from 1994-2003 in the Chicago-Green Bay rivalry.
"I'm not scared, are you scared?" Bears linebacker Lance Briggs said. "Why would I be scared? I've played against him before."
As a rookie in 2003, Briggs returned a Favre interception 45 yards for a touchdown, and two years later he brought back a Favre pick 10 yards for another TD.
From 2004-07, the Bears defeated Favre and the Packers seven times in 10 games.
In his last four seasons, including last year's fold-up fiasco with the Jets, Favre has been an average and mistake-prone quarterback, tossing almost as many interceptions (84) as TD passes (88). He's also been sacked 90 times during that time.
Bears defensive end Adewale Ogunleye has 60.5 sacks in the NFL, but he's never gotten Favre. Now Ogunleye has two more chances to get after the future Hall of Famer, as long as Favre doesn't re-re-retire, and as long as he stays healthy.
"For me," Ogunleye said, "I'm kind of excited that I get another crack at it."
A Vikings team with the reigning NFL rushing champion in Adrian Peterson and a three-time NFL MVP at quarterback is potentially dangerous. But not if the quarterback plays as Favre did down the stretch last season, when he threw nine interceptions and just two TD passes in the final five games, and the Jets went 1-4 and missed the playoffs.
"Any quarterback with Adrian Peterson behind him is going to be pretty good," Ogunleye said. "(But) the Jets experiment didn't work well. So I'm not going to jump on anybody's bandwagon right now. Brett's a good quarterback. He was good in Green Bay; but we beat him in Green Bay. The whole experiment with the Jets didn't work last year either, so I'm not going to be saying, ‘Oh my God, the Vikings are the team that we've got to watch.' We had to watch them before."
Favre will also have at his disposal big-play weapons like wide receiver Bernard Berrian. The former Bear had 48 catches for 964 yards and an NFL-best (among players with at least 33 receptions) 20.1 yards per catch. And that was with Gus Frerotte and Tarvaris Jackson throwing to him. The Vikings added another game-breaker when they took Florida's Percy Harvin in the first round of the draft.
"There are definitely going to be a lot of weapons out there and plenty of people who can make plays when they have the ball in their hands," Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer said. "Green Bay last year did a lot of things on offense that are tough (to defend) and that you don't see every week. It sounds like Minnesota might be the same thing now."
But players cautioned that there could be some backlash that accompanies Favre's arrival in Minnesota, coming as it has after everyone else on the team, including quarterbacks Sage Rosenfels and Jackson, have already been through the rigors of training camp. Favre was allowed to skip all that and still have the starting job handed to him.
"I wouldn't want to have that on our team," Hillenmeyer said, "but obviously Brett Favre is a special situation. You've got a guy like that, a future Hall of Famer, (who has) a chance to come in and contribute. (But) I think that is a tough situation, especially for some of those quarterbacks who have been working their butts off all camp."
And, with Favre, there's always the chance that he'll change his mind.
"I hope he changes his mind when he's (about) to throw the ball away, and he throws it into coverage," Briggs said. "But the bottom line is Brett Favre is a great quarterback, and the Vikings have a (heck) of a team over there."
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