The NFL analysts were in full throat Tuesday discussing Brett Favre and his alleged retirement, a development that still hasn't been commented on by the subject himself.
At times of crisis, there are TV channels people tune in. If there are storms that are potentially wash out your kid's soccer game, you check out the Weather Channel. On 9/11, millions tuned into CNN to get the story. When it comes to sports news, ESPN is the channel of choice.
For as much as the network has made fun of Favre over the last couple of years for his decision to keep playing, when he speaks – or texts – people listen, and ESPN became "All Favre All the Time" Tuesday. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., almost every minute of coverage was devoted to Favre and, considering that ESPN employs just about as many NFL people as the league itself, it had a variety of people to draw from.
Steve Young thought he would play three or four more years. Mike Golic said the Vikings are a borderline playoff team without Favre and not a Super Bowl contender. Trent Dilfer
was "shocked." Andy Reid said, "I've been asked that question once or twice." Antonio Freeman said he won't believe it until Sept. 9 when the Vikings play and Favre isn't there. Mike Ditka said, "He's a 40-year old 17-year old." Jon Gruden said he is "one of the toughest human beings to ever walk the planet." Keyshawn Johnson talked about himself.
The list went on and on as opinions were weighed in and the reality of the situation hit home. Mention was made that the Vikings could have been lined up with Donovan McNabb
when he became available in the spring. But the sentiment Favre would come back prevented the Vikings from rocking that boat. ESPN ran a piece about athletes who can't walk away from the game, citing Michael Jordan
and Evander Holyfield as examples.
The fact Favre has failed to confirm his decision yet had the story changing by the hour as second-hand sources weighed in. It would seem that when the "Middle-Aged Man Who Cried Wolf" does or says anything, he has the attention of the sports world. Whether it's viewed as the power of his personality and sports acumen or craving the spotlight, the truth lies in there somewhere. For now, there are still questions that need answering. Until then, ESPN has their packages ready – and the same video highlights to run hundreds of times.
The latest buzz in the rumor mill is that the Vikings might be willing to sweeten Favre's 2010 contract to pay him as much as $20 million, including more than $15 million in guaranteed base salary, according to the Star Tribune.
Peter King, a long Favre media buddy for Sports Illustrated, said that Favre plans to consult with Dr. James Andrews as to why his ankle is still causing him problems.
A "family insider" has said that Favre is still mulling his decision and that he hasn't come to a final decision yet, which makes one wonder what the "This is it" texts that ESPN reported were about.
The odds on the Vikings getting to the Super Bowl took a mammoth hit Tuesday. After opening at 12:1 odds at the MGM Mirage sports book, the Vikings were the NFC favorite as of Monday at 6:1, followed by Dallas at 7:1 and the Packers and Saints at 10:1. The Favre retirement speculation shuffled the deck, making the Cowboys the favorite at 5:1, followed by Green Bay at 7:1 and the Vikings and New Orleans both at 10:1.
The first two times Favre had ankle surgery, his return was impressive. In 1996, the Packers went 13-3 and made the Super Bowl. In 2007, they went 13-3 and hosted the NFC Championship Game.
If Favre doesn't return, his final pass with the Vikings will be an interception. Over the last three years, he ended his Packers career with a pick, his first season with the Vikings with a pick and he was penalized on his final throw for the Jets for an illegal forward pass.
The Accuscore NFL simulator ran a simulated game test 10,000 times on the Vikings with Favre or without him. With Favre, the Vikings averaged 11.5 wins (8.9 without him), averaged 30 points a game (24 without), made the playoffs 91 percent of the time (53 percent without) and won the NFC North 73 percent of the time (32 percent without).
How big is the Favre story? It's being discussed on the Christian Science Monitor website.
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.