In a conference call with the media Wednesday, Gruden said he was convinced Favre was heading to Tampa – only to be sideswiped by news of him being traded to the Jets instead.
"I talked to Brett on the telephone and, I think if you talk to Brett yourself, both of us thought he was coming to Tampa," Gruden said. "I went to bed at about 20 minutes after 12 thinking we had Brett Favre. I was sure we had Brett Favre. When I woke up the next day, Santa Claus didn't arrive. It was a sad day for me."
Gruden explained that, while the Packers and Buccaneers had a tentative deal in place, Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson didn't want to trade Favre to a team within the division or on their 2008 schedule. The Bucs played the Packers last year, while the Jets did not – making that deal more attractive to the Packers. Gruden said the whole seen has been about as bizarre as possible the last two summers.
"I felt like I was watching a soap opera during training camp," Gruden said. "Is he coming? Is he going? I just don't know that the timing of this thing was appropriate. That a guy like this would go in the middle of the night to play for the New York Jets and then suddenly re-unretire to play for the Vikings against the Packers? I sense some bad blood here. I don't have all the facts, but I certainly can see why the Packers wanted to get control of their franchise because they know they have a blue-chip prospect in Aaron Rodgers and they wanted to get on with his career. At the same time, they wanted to accommodate Brett by allowing him to play. But I smell some bad blood and that's what makes this game very exciting and very unique for everybody."
Bad blood or not, while Vikings fans view Favre as potentially the final piece of the puzzle to being a Super Bowl team, one has to wonder how Gruden's coaching future might have been different if No. 4 had headed south instead of east in 2008.