There is a tradition of sorts in sports that has carried down over years from coaches to players and from player to player that many people don't understand – the slapping of a teammate's butt after a nice play. While just about everyone can identify with the "high five" hand slap, the slapping of a player's butt seems to be a football thing that is a sign of encouragement, not punishment.
Of all the things Brett Favre has brought to the Vikings, one of them is a Pro Bowl butt-slap. He a chronic butt-slapper. He does it after first downs. He does after touchdowns. He does in practice … a lot.
For all the positive attributes on his Hall of Fame résumé, one that may not be as well known is his penchant for encouraging teammates with a butt slap – and not a mild one either. He delivers the goods when he puts his hand in action and he does it often.
"It's kind of crazy," offensive lineman Artis Hicks said. "You don't want to be known as a butt-slapper, but I think he is the biggest butt-slapper in the NFL. He's 40, so that hand has touched a lot of butts."
It would be one thing if it was a friendly tap, but Favre approaches the butt-slap like he approaches the game – with a lot of gusto. Just as he can fire a pass into a close window in between defenders to a receiver, he can deliver a butt-slap with the same ferocity.
"He puts his body into it," said tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, whose eight touchdown catches this year have led to more than his share of rear-end zingers. "It can sting. He's good at it. But it's all in fun – just being part of the team. It stings on us, so we try to make it sting on him when we get him back – leave a nice little handprint for him to remember."
Just as Favre has endeared himself to teammates with his sense of humor and always being ready with a joke to break the tension of a game or a long practice, smacking the bum has been part of his repertoire when it comes to being teammates with a new group of players. As his teammates have become more comfortable with him, Favre has learned that his ice-breaker has begun to get turned back on him more and more.
"He got me good pretty early," Hicks said. "I got him back a couple of weeks ago – I hate to admit that. He hits you hard, so what goes around comes around."
When the sound of the smack is heard, players know immediately that Favre has struck again. Fortunately, he reserves his butt-slaps for his offensive teammates – more often for the guys who protect him. But when game day arrives, his defensive teammates find themselves being the victims of friendly fire.
"He doesn't do it to us in practice," linebacker Ben Leber said. "It happens more during games. He puts a lot of hip and shoulder into it. We get him back, because there are a lot of reasons to do it to him because of the season he's having. But he's sneaky. You may get him once, but he's going to get you two or three times. He's always going to have the advantage on you."
Perhaps the most vulnerable to the right hand of Favre is center John Sullivan. As part of his job, he has to turn around and bend over to snap the ball – the NFL equivalent of "Thank you, sir. May I have another" of Animal House fame. Sullivan said he left a practice last week with a clear and present reminder of just how hard Favre can deliver his patented butt slap, but he is concerned about seeking revenge on the team's elder statesman.
"I had a couple of five-finger marks on my butt cheeks last Friday," Sullivan said. "It was pretty brutal. My problem is I can't get him back, because I'm afraid I might hurt him if I slap him as hard as he slaps. It may come at some point, but for now, I'm just biding my time."
As strange as it may appear, it's all in fun for Favre and his teammates. But, like Las Vegas, what happens on the field, stays on the field. Period.
"As long as you're in uniform, it's OK," Hicks said. "We leave it on the field. Once the uniform comes off, the butt-slapping ceases."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Teammates dish on butt-slappin' Brett
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