Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we flip the calendar to July, a month that starts with fireworks and ends with the long-awaited return of NFL football. ...
• It may not rival his obsessive quest for revenge against the Packers as the leading factor driving his likely return to the NFL, but don't overlook the motivating role money is playing on both sides of the
That's right, after the chance to stick it to the green and gold, the pursuit of the long green might just be Favre's second-best reason to un-retire once again and join rival Minnesota. As one prominent Wisconsin-based Favre observer recently told me: "Brett likes his money now. Don't underestimate how hard it would be for him to ever leave $8 million to $10 million -- or whatever the Vikings wind up offering him -- on the table. He talks about staying home and riding his lawn mower around, but he likes to get paid.''
It's true Favre could have gotten that kind of money out of the Packers last year just to stay retired the first time. But getting that kind of loot -- even if it comes in a heavily incentive-laden deal, as expected -- from one of Green Bay's division foes allows him to both have his cake and eat it, too. What could be better than a scenario in which he gets paid in the process of trying to make the Packers pay for their mistake?
Another league source told me that while Favre has long enjoyed his reputation as a guy who plays for "the love of the game,'' money has always been one sure way to get Favre's attention. "His coming back and playing every year is not all about his love of competition,'' the source said.
And don't think for a moment the Vikings organization doesn't have any financial impetus for getting Favre to don purple. Just as the Jets wanted Favre in part to help sell PSLs at their still-to-be-opened new stadium, the Vikings could use the boost that No. 4 would provide for ticket sales, team-related merchandise sales, and most important, generating some positive momentum in the franchise's long and fruitless pursuit of some public funding for a new stadium.
With the Vikings tied to a Metrodome lease that runs only through the 2011 season, team owner
I rather doubt it in this still-struggling economy, with Minnesota and Wisconsin creatively agreeing to share the costs of some state services that would otherwise be greatly reduced, but you never know. Wilf may believe Favre represents his last, best chance to escape the antiquated Metrodome, which the Vikings have been trying to leave behind since as far back as the mid-'90s, when I was covering the team for the
It would be ironic if Wilf is taking such a long-term view of any potential Favre acquisition, given that the NFL's leading waffler is the ultimate short-term fix at this point in his career. But Favre in Minnesota would undeniably generate massive fan interest, and who knows where that may lead if No. 4 could rein in his at times errant right arm and lead an already talented Vikings team to their first Super Bowl in 33 years?
So follow the money, from both sides of this story. The Vikings clearly view Favre as a bet worth making, and they're willing to pay with big incentives if landing him winds up paying off in equal measure. Time will tell us how much of a gamble Minnesota is taking.
• A couple weeks back, when
No surprise there, as Johnson has been speaking his mind entertainingly since the moment he joined the NFL.
"I know this much,'' Johnson told me. "Back in 1996, I was drafted No. 1 overall [by the Jets]. I was the queen of the ball, the princess, whatever. And all those guys have come after me. I wrote the book on diva receivers. Truly, when you break it all down, I'm the first guy in the last 15 years of receivers who did all that stuff. I threw my helmet to the ground when no one was doing that. I slammed my helmet to the ground and then they changed the rules banning that.''
But Johnson had the good fortune to be drafted and play under Jets head coach
"It took me two years to figure that out,'' Johnson said. "But eventually I had to admit to myself: 'You had fun with that act for a couple years, kid. But let it go. Now it's time to be a professional, have fun, make money and win games.'''
Johnson said he hasn't been closely following all the offseason storylines involving high-profile receivers this year, but he didn't hold back when I referenced
"Brandon Marshall, what have you ever done?'' Johnson said. "You went to one Pro Bowl, maybe two. You caught a bunch of balls because they threw them to you. Have you even won a playoff game yet? Guys like me and
"He says he doesn't want to play in Denver because he doesn't have a quarterback now that
Johnson serves as an ESPN analyst during the NFL season, and this offseason has been devoting his energies to his new show about decorating on the A&E network:
"I keep seeing where
C'mon, Key. Tell us what you really think. Don't hold back.
• Boil it all down and I get the feeling that one of the strongest reasons why both
Would Stafford and Sanchez start simply because of Ryan and Flacco even if they struggled mightily in the preseason? Of course not. But this is a copy-cat league, and Ryan and Flacco opened eyes and minds around the NFL with their winning first-year performances. Don't forget, new Jets head coach
All that being said, one potentially very significant difference exists between last year's two highest-drafted quarterbacks and this year's, and it can't be over-stated: Ryan and Flacco entered the league as fifth-year seniors. Stafford and Sanchez were underclassmen. History says that very likely will matter.
• Even though he said he was retiring after the 2008 season -- as if that really means anything any more --
It won't hurt him a bit either that branches of the
• I see where Pittsburgh receiver
I always get a bit of a kick out of offseason news items along these lines, because how many times do the always-glowing reports of an offseason weight gain or loss really wind up holding true significance for the regular season? Although I must admit we'll all be watching the bulked up
• It's a shame Vikings rookie receiver
• Let me get this straight: Ex-Vikings and Cardinals head coach
• Remember all those heartwarming stories that got churned out when receiver