At training camp Wednesday, KFAN host/Vikings play-by-play man Paul Allen was hosting his weekday radio show from Mankato. He's riling up the young gawkers and lookie-loos and takes a call from Jeff in Indiana.
The voice sounded familiar. It should. It was Jeff George.
Apparently acting as his own agent, George, who brought the Vikings back from a disastrous start to the 1999 season following the 1998 dominance, waxed nostalgic as well as talking about his future.
On Wednesday morning, there wasn't as much intel on the Brett Favre denials of telling teammates or team personnel that he was planning to retire. As far as most knew, an official confirmation of the retirement was pending. So when George made his comments, he was unaware that Favre was doing an about-face and the panic of Tuesday had become the Wednesday afternoon sigh. George brought back some harsh memories of the Vikings trying to replicate a dominant season.
Nobody ever questioned George's ability as a player. He had a cannon for an arm, but always seemed to be at odds with coaches or teammates or fans. Where certain quarterbacks were embraced by fans, George never was. He played for horrible teams, but, unlike guys like Archie Manning, he was just branded a loser. When he came to the Vikings, all the stories about his arrogance and problems with the media were hard to find. He was nothing but a gentleman, but, in discussing his only year as the primary starter for the Vikings, he got into a little second guessing.
He stated that the Vikings needed to take a defensive player in the first round of the 1999 draft following their huge 1998 season. He mentioned Jevon Kearse by name as a player the Vikings could have drafted and helped the team win a Super Bowl. Instead, Dennis Green took Daunte Culpepper, whose name was never mentioned, but it seemed clear to the trained George listener that he didn't endorse the selection of Culpepper, who helped run him out of town.
That came in the early months of 2000. Tens years and change later, George got to the crux of his conversation – wanting to let the Vikings front office and the fans know that, if Favre doesn't come back (and you missed a chance to trade for Donovan McNabb or Jason Campbell, sign Marc Bulger or draft a quarterback), he is ready to go. Locked and load. Welcome to the gun show. Let's get ready to rumbll-l-l-l-e!
That's right. He's ready to come out of his own retirement – perhaps more appropriately deemed exile – to help save the Vikings from another hangover season following one of best in franchise history. While Allen threw out some friendly jabs at his age, George was quick to point out he's the same age as Favre.
The problem? Favre's last pass was an interception in late January of this year. George last threw a meaningful NFL pass Sept. 24, 2001 at Green Bay. He was the starter for the Redskins in the first two games of that season. He completed 23 of 42 passes for just 168 yards, had no touchdowns, three interceptions, was sacked six times, fumbled twice and lost one of them, had a passer rating of 34.6 and his team got outscored 67-3 in those two games. Not enough? The winning quarterback in the Week 1 blowout was Doug Flutie (how long ago was that?) and the winning QB in the second game was none other than Favre himself. He completed 20 of 31 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns.
That loss to the Packers was the last time he would throw a pass for the Redskins. 2002 came and he landed in Seattle, but didn't throw a pass. He was out of football in 2003 and returned to the Bears in 2004, but once again he never threw a pass. The last game George threw a pass in was against the guy he wants to replace. The fact is Favre has started 142 regular-season games and a slew of playoff contests since George left.
While it sounded like a put-on, George still believes he can make a comeback almost nine years after he last played. Talk about a reality show? Sign me up if that happens, but apparently George is missing one thing – the Vikings would really have to hate Tarvaris Jackson, Sage Rosenfels or Joe Webb to make his dream come true. Last time we checked, they seem fine going into 2010 with the three of them if Brett decides to stay down in the Gulf.