Sunday slant: Is Favre committed?

The Vikings' mission to get Brett Favre back in Minnesota was unprecedented. Favre's 2009 season was a big success, but his extensive comments upon his arrival leave some to wonder about his intentions and commitment. We ponder the extensive words of Favre's press conference and try to make sense of it all.

Brett Favre is back playing for the Vikings, but what will that really mean? How committed is he to the process?

The organization essentially had to beg him to come back. Head coach Brad Childress made at three trips to Mississippi to talk with Favre during the offseason and insisted he wasn't pressuring the quarterback for an answer on his playing status.

But when the day of reckoning came early last week, it wasn't Childress aboard owner Zygi Wilf's plane, it was three of Favre's closest friends on the team – Ryan Longwell, Steve Hutchinson and Jared Allen. From this viewpoint, that was the right move. Childress had been there and essentially done that, yet Favre still wasn't making a commitment more than two weeks into training camp.

Childress said it wasn't his intention to get Favre to come back with him when he visited because training camp and the preseason hadn't started yet, but sending the good cop, bad cop and funny cop produced a positive intervention.

"Obviously everybody felt like it was important enough to get those guys involved," Childress said.

"You play the game for your teammates. Those are the best teams that I've been around. You talk to people who leave this game, the thing they most miss is the camaraderie in the locker room. They don't miss the meetings, they don't miss the grind, they don't miss two-a-days, they don't miss the work. They miss the guys and just the day-to-day goings-on in a football locker room."

But after Favre arrived in Minnesota, he was talking in circles. It wasn't so much a press conference he gave on Wednesday for 34 minutes, it was more a combination of a cleansing of the soul, stream of consciousness, self-reflection, self-doubt and self-congratulations. It was epic Favre: Lower the expectations, raise the doubt and leave open the possibility for "I told you so" scenarios no matter what happens.

If the Vikings win the Super Bowl, Favre told us it was a great team. If they fall flat on their face and the upcoming 41-year-old QB makes it through the season, he told us he wasn't sure if he'd be able to repeat his performance from last year. And if his ironman streak of consecutive games played ends and brings a screeching halt to his career, he also told us how banged up he was and how his ankle still hasn't responded from surgery like he hoped.

The Wiggling Waffler put it all out there on Wednesday, making the trip to Mississippi the biggest high-stakes game of poker the Vikings have played since they threw all their chips in the middle with a terrible bluff on Hershel Walker.

Favre could end up giving the franchise he tortured for 17 years its first Super Bowl victory in the 50-year history of the organization, or it could all fall apart. The concern here isn't with his arm, which is still strong as ever, or even his ankle because he wasn't ever a scrambling man anyway. After listening to his more than 4,000 words last Wednesday, you have to wonder most about his reasons for coming back.

"Those guys were like, 'Hey, if you could do us one favor.' And that's a pretty big favor," Favre said of his trio of visitors last week. "I can't expect anyone in here on the outside who's not affiliated with this group to understand it, agree with it. People are going to break it down and say, 'This is wrong. This is right. This is inspirational.' Whatever. Everyone's going to have their take on it. But I think (my return is) really a tribute to the guys."

Favre mentioned playing for his teammates so many times during his press conference that it left this observer wondering if he wanted it for himself. Was Favre's fierce competitive streak flickering? Was this really just a favor to a bunch of guys he genuinely likes?

"Everyone wants to talk about the physical toll in that particular (NFC Championship) game. The mental toll is really what is hard to deal with," he said.

Even while Longwell, Hutchinson and Allen were visiting Mississippi for less than a day, Childress said there were mixed message he received from those on the mission.

"I got a couple different (messages). There were a couple of false alarms, false starts if you will," he said. "They communicated to me when they were in the airport."

Favre said Hutchinson wasn't going to take no for an answer, but Hutchinson said in listening to all the reasons Favre laid out to his teammates on why he should and shouldn't come back, they were legitimate. The decision was all Favre's to make, but the fact that the Vikings had to take the unprecedented move of sending three salesmen to his doorstep has to be a little bit concerning, doesn't it?

"No, that doesn't concern me at all," Childress said. "When the terrain varies, you go with the terrain. That's what that took. I can sit in my office and say I'm going to talk to him over the telephone. I just stood back, looked at it and that's what you do. I don't think anybody violated any sacrosanct bylaw of anything. You look and see what a situation calls for and you do it.

"Now it may never have been done before, but that doesn't concern me. You do what you need to do or feel like you need to do in a given situation. I thought it was common sensical what needed to happen."

Per usual, however, even though Favre was back with the team and trying to convince himself and others that he was "all in" for Destination Dallas, he played both sides of the equation.

"I could make a case for both (decisions). Never in my wildest dreams when we sat here last year would I have thought I would've played the way I did," Favre said. "… You know, part of me said it was such a great year it would be easy to say, ‘Hey I can't play any better, why even try?' And then the other part is playing at a high level, why not go back out? Everything for the most part seems to be fine. He's got a good football team around him. And that's true. The expectations are high here, as they should be."

It's harder for media and fans to get a read on Favre off the field than it is for a middle linebacker to figure him out on the field. Childress, in one of the best quotes of his Vikings tenure, might have summed up Favre's circumventing talks best.

"That's Brett, though. He talks all the way around the block on most subjects," Childress said. "I've talked to him before about deer hunting, which I don't know anything about. Hunting with a rifle and a bow and before you know it, deer meat. And by the end of the conversation, he's a vegan.

"That's Brett. And that's what I love about him."

Last week, Favre was the hunted. For however many weeks he can stay healthy, he will be the hunter. He's not going for a trophy buck, but if he brings back the Lombardi Trophy, all organizational aggravation will have been worth it. And the doubts – from both Favre, the media and fans – will have been gutted by the gunslinger.


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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