Commentary: Favre's absence not unprecedented

Despite some people believing Brett Favre is a first in being allowed to skip training camp, we offer another Hall of Famer as an example of an exception to the rule.

As the hours count down to the Mission at Mankato, there is no shortage of discussion about Brett Favre's decision not to come to sleep two-to-a-room in a college dorm room. For those Favre-haters out there who ever lived in a dorm, take a moment to remember what that was like. If you were 40 and didn't have to do it, would you?


Favre is being skewered in the national media about continually sticking to his "I'm not sure" defense. Why? Multiple reasons. He has earned a place in his career to get away with it, which essentially trumps any other potential obstacles. He has the blessing of his teammates – any skepticism was snuffed out early on last year. And he has the blessing of his coach, which trumps teammates' opinions. It's a trifecta rarely seen in sports. Shake your Magic 8-Ball and the answer is "all signs point to yes."

What brought this ongoing assault to a boil for me was, of all things, talk radio and a caller, who, for the sake of his own anonymity, I will call Floyd from Mayberry. He was bashing Favre for skipping the soup and shrimp cocktail of the meal and showing up for a big slab of prime rib when the main course arrives. Clearly, he was unaware of the perfect storm in place in Favre's side of the equation. What followed was "Dual Road Rage." A comment so stupid that it got me angry in my car, but compounded that he wasn't called on it.

Floyd (if that is his real name) made the insipid declaration, "Bud Grant wouldn't have taken that." The host agreed. My fingerprints in the steering wheel will show up years from now.

Favre's situation is not without precedent. In the NFL. With the Vikings. With Grant!

When Alan Page came to the Vikings, he was more than just a superior athlete. He was a student-athlete, as the term was intended – with the "student" component coming first. He made his case that he was seeking a law degree and needed to attend summer classes to make that happen – classes that conveniently overlapped with training camp. Many of his teammates have grumbled off-the-record that Page was given special permission from Grant. Page promised to be dominant when he showed up and he ostensibly attended classes in the summer to continue the conflict from one year to the next.

Grant, who hated prima donnas (still does) and wouldn't tolerate players thinking they should have a separate set of rules, made an exception in the case of Page. Had he refused, Page may not have ended up on the Minnesota Supreme Court. As it turned out, Page was right and Grant was right. He made a noteworthy exception, but, when Page showed up, it was at 100 percent from Day One.

Not playing the Lloyd Bentsen card with Brad Childress, but, the next time he is criticized for moving into a season without his star quarterback, he can take heart in knowing that the Old Trapper did it and it worked out just fine.


  • Pro Football Weekly went Annie Liebowitz with its current cover story. A training camp preview, none other than Favre dons the cover. Not throwing a pass or even wearing a Vikings uniform. It's a candid shot of Favre, with a scruffy gray beard and a ball cap with the caption "Tick, tick, tick" proclaiming the Brett Favre watch has begun. PFW seems to be in lock-step with Peter King in refusing to give the Vikings their due. Last year, they liked Chicago to dominate the NFC North. This year they pick the Packers. PFW has done illustrated covers in the past, but it would be interesting to see when the last time a current player was on the cover that wasn't in uniform or a suit at the draft? The cover can be seen here. Not the most flattering of photos.

  • As expected, the Vikings got four-year deals done with fifth-round guard Chris DeGeare and sixth-round QB Joe Webb. With those signings, all that remain are the two second-round picks – CB Chris Cook and RB Toby Gerhart. The buzz is that both are fully expected to be signed and ready to go Friday afternoon in Mankato.

  • The numbers on the opening of ticket sales Wednesday reflected the expectations of Vikings fans for the 2010 season. While none of the games officially sold out on the first day of ticket availability, the first-day sales were a refreshing change from 2009, when, despite coming off a division-winning season, game ticket sales were slow. Wednesday's numbers shattered those and have several games getting close to sellout levels already. An official Favre return will likely spark a run on the rest.

  • Maybe Favre would have changed his mind about heading to Mankato if he knew they were moving into Sears Hall. For years, the team was headquartered at Gage Hall, a two-person-to-a-room dormitory with no air conditioning. Not only does Sears Hall have air conditioning in the rooms, it is described locally as "semi-suites" with two bedrooms and a bathroom in each room.

  • Peter King, who is pretty connected with Brett Favre and has officially cursed the Packers by picking them to win the Super Bowl, went to Twitter Wednesday night to say he believes the odds of Favre coming back are 60-40. As long as they're over 50-50, it's all good.

    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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