By Chris Ballard
August 20, 2009

I don't know about you, but I was super excited when I heard the news: Brett is back!

See, when he said he was done for good, I believed him, never mind the speculation suggesting otherwise in early May, and then in late June, and early July, and again in late July, and then on Monday morning and Monday afternoon. So imagine my surprise and joy when word broke Tuesday that he was on a plane to Minnesota! If only someone could have told me the precise time it took off or what type of plane it was.

Oh wait, someone did! USA Today reported that he boarded a "9:10 a.m. flight in Mississippi" while WISN 12 in Milwaukee confirmed that, "according to airport workers, the plane had a Vikings logo on it." Sadly, Brett's on-board beverage choice wasn't ascertained, but I'm confident the truth will come out eventually.

Now, I know some of you may not share my enthusiasm for Favre's return, believing that he's merely a gloryhound who is addicted to adulation and already receives way too much attention from the press. His never-ending comebacks all follow the same predictable script -- tearful goodbye, door left ajar, months of melodrama and denials followed by triumphant aw-shucks return -- and you're left to wonder why we in the media cover them as if we're breaking Watergate. To which I say, ask a representative group of Americans what subject they know more about: Watergate or Brett Favre. I rest my case.

Personally, I even considered going full-time Favre. After all, someone started a blog devoted entirely to "obsessive coverage" of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. Site author Dan Shanoff argues that Tebow is, "THE biggest name in college football -- if not all sports this fall," ergo there must be a massive audience for anything Tebow-related. Brilliant, right? Anyway, I was thinking of doing the same thing for Favre, at least until I realized there's already a media outlet doing that. It's called ESPN.

Still, think of all the great stories that await us this season. We'll receive blanket coverage of Favre throwing screen passes in practice (some will even be caught!) and read about the little boys and old ladies of Minneapolis who adore him (because he's so daggum normal!), and how his teammates are "honored" to play with him (until they decide to blast him like Jets teammates Thomas Jones and Kerry Rhodes did last year, the former saying of Favre, "you're not the only one on this team"). And of course we'll hear about the reaction of fans in Green Bay, where their beloved hero is now playing for a hated rival, a scenario no one could have ever possibly imagined.

Okay, so you probably could have, mainly because you already did when Favre really, really wanted to play for the Vikings last year, and again this May, and in June, and again in late July and, well, you get the point. But this time it's for real! No doubt Packer backers are pissed, right? Just listen to the venom of John Hopf of Manitowoc, talking to the Green Bay Press-Gazette earlier this week. "If he wants to play, it's his decision," Hopf said. "He's a great player."

Or get a load of the reaction from Linda Kouba. Kouba is a middle school secretary in LaCrosse, Wisc., who I wrote about a couple years ago, after Favre's tearful (first) retirement press conference. She had a shrine to Favre in her office, complete with a six-foot high cutout of No. 4 that greeted all visitors to the school. No doubt she felt especially betrayed. "I feel angry, but not at Brett," she said when I called her on Wednesday. "I could never be angry at Brett. I'm angry at the circumstances that forced him to leave Green Bay." Wow. Some might say Brett doesn't deserve fans like Linda, but I say keep the faith -- who knows, maybe if Brett wins a ring with Minnesota he'll take it on a tour of Green Bay, like it's the Stanley Cup.

Of course there are other fans who aren't quite as chipper, calling him a traitor and saying he ripped their hearts out. But surely Favre can empathize with their plight, right? "If you're true Packers fans you'd understand," Favre said Tuesday. Okay, so maybe empathy isn't his strong suit.

Best of all, I just know Favre is going to tear it up in Minnesota this year. Sure, he finished 21st in the league in passer rating in 2008, causing Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. to write in May that, "From what I saw last year, I don't even know he's one of the 32 best quarterbacks in the league right now." And okay, so he blew off training and bonding with his new teammates this summer so he could hang out in Mississippi and throw post routes to 12-year-olds and sprinkle Miracle-Gro on his lawn. And yeah, the track record of QBs his age isn't exactly sparkling. But this is Brett Favre, people! He's still capable of making the magic. Just like Johnny Unitas did late in his career, when he signed with the San Diego Chargers. Of course, as ESPN's Sal Paolantonio recently pointed out, Unitas got pulled in the third quarter of the season opener that year when the Chargers fell behind 38-0 and he never again started an NFL game, but that's not important.

What is important is what happens on Oct. 5 and again on Nov. 1: Packers-Vikings, first in Minnesota and then in Green Bay. Personally, I'm hoping for saturation coverage. I want Jay Glazer to tap Aaron Rodgers' cell phone and then I want my colleague Peter King to go one better and have himself surgically conjoined to Favre, so as to never miss a piece of breaking news ("Favre is on the trainer's table, according to sources attached to his left arm"). I want writers who thought they couldn't have anything left to say about Favre (like me!) to contrive new, unlikely ways to weigh in on a subject everyone is already sick of. After all, you only get one chance to write your 13th column on Brett Favre.

So let's treasure this season, as it is our last opportunity to hear from our all-American, Wrangler-wearing icon before he shuffles into the Mississippi sunset. At least until late next May, and then early June, and mid-July.....

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