Favre's shadow will follow Vikings

Wednesday July 29th, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS -- All was right in the Upper Midwest football universe Wednesday in the wake of Brett Favre's re-re-reassessment of his comeback plans with the Minnesota Vikings (spot me a re- or two, since I've lost track).

Fans of the Vikings could go back to disliking Favre, a nemesis nonpareil and a turncoat the likes of which they would abhor had he been pondering a move from Minnesota to Green Bay rather than vice versa. Meanwhile, Packers fans could revel in the Vikings' troubles on the eve of training camp the way good. nasty rivals are supposed to. Even those dairylanders who might have been rankled by the manner in which Favre ended, dragged out, then ended again his stellar career in Green Bay could get behind the quarterback now for putting Minnesota through a wringer one more time, as he had on all those Sundays, without ever taking off his ball cap.

Then things got even better: Almost instantly with the news that Favre had told Minnesota coach Brad Childress that he would not be playing there in the 2009 season, people and pundits started speculating that the Vikings might be a logical destination for Michael Vick.

The mass chortling you heard with that came from about 120 miles north of Milwaukee. Even most devilish Packers fan couldn't have made up this sort of stick-to-the-other-NFC-North-guys scenario.

There are, at a basic level, a couple of reasons why Vick to the Vikings might make sense. Minnesota's need at the quarterback position remains, made more extreme by the hemming and hawing of Favre that kept incumbent Tarvaris Jackson and acquisition Sage Rosenfels in limbo for the past few months. What should have been an offseason for Jackson to work on his swagger and career-backup Rosenfels to finally sharpen his knife for a starting job instead got spent in call-waiting hell, both hoping that Childress eventually would click back over. Their confidence may have suffered as much as their clout with teammates such as Jared Allen, Adrian Peterson and Antoine Winfield, who were outed for text-messaging or phoning Favre urging him to come aboard.

A second reason Vick could make sense for Minnesota is simple: the Vikings already were prepared for a media circus geared to Favre's latest emergence from retirement. The satellite trucks, the helicopters, the national media personalities, the bloggers moved to actually pull on pants for the car ride all were poised to travel to Mankato, Minn., for the opening of camp Friday. That's halfway to the hysteria that will descend on whatever NFL team gives Vick a chance to resuscitate his pro career. Minus the PETA presence, anyway.

But Vick to the Vikings doesn't make sense in most other ways. Bringing in Favre would generate controversy, little "c,'' limited to sports and on-field antics. It would pit purple-and-white against green-and-gold, old against young, the now against the future, and that's about it. Bringing in Vick would mean Controversy, capital "C,'' creating on-field issues and dragging along much more serious off-field considerations. It would be Mossy Cade -- the former Packers safety convicted of sexual assault in 1987, then signed and almost instantly dumped by the Vikings in 1988 when confronted with a community uproar -- all over again. Times a thousand. Let's not forget that owner Zygi Wilf was supremely embarrassed by the notorious Love Boat incident in his first year and has been a law-and-order stickler ever since.

Besides, the position already is crowded, with Jackson, Rosenfels, third-stringer John David Booty -- and Favre.

Might as well face it: Favre is going to be with the Vikings from the start of camp Friday through the end of their season, assuming it stops somewhere shy of Miami and Super Bowl XLIV. He won't -- barring a tweet from Hattiesburg and a late-night roster move -- complete a single pass for them, but he'll be there in spirit on every pass that T-Jack or Rosenfels does not complete. He'll be a shadow lurking over each shaky performance or crisis of confidence that any of the Vikings quarterbacks has.

Because of the Vikings' worthy but protracted flirtation with Favre, he will be their ghost of Tom Joad for 2009. Wherever the offense lets down the defense this season, he'll be there.

Whenever they need some fourth-quarter heroics and sputter as the clock ticks away instead, he'll be there. Whenever a fan is in the mood to second-guess, well, almost anything, he'll be there.

Now with Favre's comments to Peter King in which he simultaneously closed the door on another comeback and pried it open ("I truly, truly believe it's over. But if someone calls Nov. 1, who knows?''), the Vikings' extended bench for passing insurance will stretch from Minnesota all the way to Mississippi. And Favre will be there too.

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