It's difficult – if not impossible – to find an NFL soul that believes Brett Favre is ready to trade in the football cleats for work boots on a full-time basis yet.
As some of the NFL's top talent gathered at the University of Minnesota practice fields for workouts organized by Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald Jr., a Minnesota native, no one seemed to believe there was much of a chance Favre was not coming back for a 20th NFL season.
As one player stretched between drills, he asked reporters if they really thought there was a chance Favre wouldn't return. Told no, he completely agreed.
Fitzgerald came on even stronger.
"He will be there for sure. Who would turn down $13 million? Would you? You wouldn't turn down $100,000," Fitzgerald asked one reporter.
Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin attended Fitzgerald's camp to offer football and life advice for the players, the receivers in particular. Irvin had a different analogy when explaining his thinking on why Favre is going to return.
Irvin, now a member of the NFL media, realizes that money in the world outside of sports doesn't come as easily to those that aren't professional athletes. That's one of the reasons he believes Favre will come back.
"Financially … you do know in the NFL they bring the whole fruit basket to you. You have the apple, the orange, bananas, everything is in there," Irvin said. "Once you retire, I have to run over here to do radio for an apple. I have to run over there and do TV for an orange. I'm like, ‘Man, they gave the whole basket. Now I have to earn this fruit.'"
Favre has certainly made enough money in the NFL to be comfortable for the rest of his life. While $13 million is a lot of money for a job that will start in August and end in January or February, playing another NFL season has to be about more than money.
Irvin believes it is. The chance at another championship and the camaraderie of teammates pulls many older NFL players back into the game season after season.
With Favre, the chance for a championship in Minnesota remains.
"Favre is not leaving this young talent. We focus too much on Brett's age (40) instead of the team's youth when you're talking about Brett. Brett does what he does with that youthful, young, talented team around him. You know he's not leaving that," Irvin said. "The stringing along is not as intense as it used to be so he might as well (just say), ‘I'm coming back. It's time to let it go and come on back.'"
Tarvaris Jackson, the former starting quarterback for the Vikings who became a backup once Favre arrived last August, doesn't have much doubt that the gunslinger is preparing for a 20th season after hearing that Favre was back working out with a high school team in Mississippi.
"You all watch TV the same way I do. He ain't working out for no reason," Jackson said. "I welcome him back. There's nothing I can do about it so I'm going to welcome him back and hopefully get to the Super Bowl."
Jackson said his focus going into training camp, which starts July 30, will be the same as it was last year: He and Sage Rosenfels will act like they are competing for the starting job, even if they realize Favre is likely coming back.
"We're going to try to do the same thing and try to get this championship game," Jackson said.
"… If he don't show up to Mankato, sign the same time he did last year, that's fine, that's more reps for me, Sage and Joe (Webb). We just basically try to take advantage of it. When he comes back, be ready mentally and just know what you're getting yourself into. It's going to be a long season."
Irvin believes Favre would be a fool to give up the game at this point. Favre may be old by NFL quarterback standards, but he had a great season in 2009 and Irvin thinks he should continue to enjoy the game as long as he can.
"You can't blame him. I tell people all the time, ‘Don't be stupid. Don't allow your ego to make you walk away from the greatest thing you will ever experience,'" Irvin said. "The unity of walking onto a football field with 52 other guys, you have one purpose, one goal and one heartbeat. Wow, what a feeling. You make them drag you off the field. You … make … them ... drag … you … off … the … field. You will never have this again in your life."
Favre was more than just a mercenary free-agent quarterback last year. He quickly became someone his teammates enjoyed playing with and having in the locker room. They embraced his humor and saw his dedication to the game in his late-night film sessions.
Irvin believes the camaraderie of a football team will help draw Favre back as well.
"As men, the thing we love is those moments and those men things," he said. "That's why we love mob movies. There's a union there. There's a commitment to one another. Even though it's violent and dangerous and murders and all that, but to death in the mob. Ultimately, that's what unifies a football team, that whole mentality. You want that mentality, and to walk on the field with a bunch of guys, let me tell you, there's nothing like it."
A Favre return would affect various players in different ways. Jackson, for one, would play a mind game with himself, trying to convince himself that he was the starter so he would continue to take each practice repetition seriously.
"Each rep you get, (you're not thinking) I don't need to get this rep, I don't need to do my best on this rep because Brett is coming back anyway. You don't want to do that," he said. "You just want to go and give your best. When he shows up or if he shows up, just welcome him back. That's all you can do."
Fitzgerald sees it differently, as he represents another team hoping to become the NFC champion.
"Honestly if he didn't come back, I wouldn't mind. You look at the NFC right now, you think of the Cowboys, you think of the Green Bay Packers, you think of the Minnesota Vikings. Those are the three juggernauts in our conference, and if Brett wasn't back I don't know," he said. "… I'm trying to win the NFC again this year."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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