Well the day finally arrived, folks. I never once mentioned Brett Favre to the Vikings in any of my articles and never took a stance on the issue because, to be honest, I never wanted to imagine that it might come true.
Another article will come later that breaks down my personal feelings on Favre wearing purple, but for now, we’ve got a free agent signing to break down.
Today it was announced that, pending a physical, Favre will join the Minnesota Vikings and presumably take over the starting quarterback responsibilities. With Tavaris Jackson still fighting the injury bug and Sage Rosenfels being, well, Sage Rosenfels, it’s easy to believe that Favre will be an improvement over the two.
Favre will turn 40 right before the start of Week Five and will be entering his 19th year in the National Football League. It has been a storied career for Favre. He has won three MVP awards, a Super Bowl, and he holds all major passing records including completions, passing yards, and touchdowns.
As good as his career has been, he has made just about as many headlines in the last two offseasons than he did the last 16 combined. Coming in and out of retirement became almost a game for people, and no one knew what to believe.
He played with people’s emotions, couldn’t decide what to do, retired, un-retired, retired again, “got the itch” again, said no, and is now on a plane to Minnesota.
For the Vikings, the addition of Favre is one of the biggest PR moves in football history. The move is literally the equivalent of Derek Jeter to the Red Sox or Coach K taking a job with the Tar Heels. For a struggling franchise who has never won the Super Bowl (in four attempts) and doesn’t have the biggest fan base, Favre will be a godsend.
Last season, the Vikings ranked 25th in all of football in attendance, and have not had a competent quarterback since Randall Cunninghman or Daunte Culpepper in his glory days. Fans will come in flocks to see their once-hated rival don the Vikings helmet, will buy jerseys in heaps, and will get to experience what it is like to cheer for Brett Favre.
Favre looks like the last piece to a Vikings team that can run the ball on offense and stop the run of defense. Last season, Jackson and Gus Frerotte faded towards the end of the year and could not do anything in the playoffs, as the Vikings were taken down by the Eagles in the first round.
But in breaking it all down, will the 40-year-old gunslinger really be able to take the Vikings to the promised land?
Last season with the Jets, much drama was made about Favre’s ailing bicep and shoulder, and was dubbed the reason Favre struggled at the end of the year. He just did not look like the same quarterback and visibly struggled.
New York would end the season 1-4 after knocking off the Patriots and the then-undefeated Titans to finish 9-7 and miss the playoffs. Head coach Eric Mangini was promptly fired and Favre announced his ”retirement”.
Last year with the Jets, Favre finished the last five games with two touchdowns and nine interceptions. Four of those games were in cold weather, with a game in Miami being the only warm weather contest.
Say what you will about last year’s end of the season failures, but this isn’t the first time Favre has fluttered at the end of the year.
In 2007, Favre finished the year (the last five games) with six touchdowns and seven interceptions. Just two of the games were in cold weather conditions, but Favre also played terribly against the Giants in the NFC Championship Game, completing just 19 of 36 passes and being intercepted twice.
In 2006, Favre threw four touchdowns and eight interceptions over the course of the last five games. Four of those games came in cold weather atmospheres, and while the Packers won four of their last five games, they did so in spite of Favre’s lackluster performances.
In 2005, Favre met cold conditions in his last five games and threw just one touchdown compared to ten interceptions in that span.
More so than just an injury to Favre last season, it has become apparent that the wear and tear he takes during a 16-game season gets to him by season’s end. Remember, Favre starts and plays in every single game, which is something 95 percent of quarterbacks do not do.
That means 16 games of hits, throws, scrambles, and sacks that do the body no good at all. Throw in Favre’s age of 39 (and soon to be 40) and you have a recipe for disaster for the Ironman.
Favre played his cards right this season by waiting until training camp was over to finally join the Vikings, but Favre didn’t really take a beating before the regular season in previous years anyway.
Playing in the NFC North will make things easier on Favre as he begins his season with the Vikings. They play Cleveland, Detroit, and San Francisco in the first three weeks, which will surely make it easy for Favre to get the rust off.
A week four match-up in Minnesota against the Packers will be his first test, and there will be much more than just a regular season game riding on it.
The Vikings have a fairly easy schedule this season, playing the AFC North and NFC West, and the season has clearly become Super Bowl or bust. Whether or not Favre can lead them to an NFC Championship will not be apparent until later in the year, but a quick start will be important to keep the fans excited and buying into the Favre signing.
The way I look at it is if Favre was any other quarterback coming off a season in which he led the league in interceptions, would he warrant a $10 million contract?
Add the fact that he is 39 years old and coming off shoulder surgery and you have a huge question mark.
The Jets had nothing but bad things to say about their season with Favre after he retired. He rarely interacted with the players, had his own locker room, played the blame game, and accomplished very little on the field.
While Favre has a great relationship with head coach Brad Childress, nothing says that he will interact with the Vikings any better. Add in Favre’s late arrival and that chemistry will need to come even faster if he is going to succeed.
For a guy who last month said he would not come back because he was not in good enough shape physically, Favre must have been drinking a lot of Gatorade or something, because the Vikings expect him to play 16 games plus the playoffs.
If he has 11 good games and flounders in the last five like he has the last four years, the Vikings will accomplish nothing.
For Brad Childress, the move will either make or break his future with the Vikings. He has all but given up on Jackson, and the fourth round draft choice he gave up for Rosenfels is now being spent on a backup.
Smart thinking says he should have called up Eric Mangini and talked this move out before he actually did it.
It’s all but set in stone that Favre will join the Vikings, and is expected to start in their preseason game on Friday against the Chiefs. It starts a journey that will last the next 19 weeks and, hopefully for the Vikings, beyond.
The track record on Favre says that he is all but finished as a superstar quarterback, but he is an upgrade over either of the two quarterbacks in Minnesota that were battling it out for the starting spot. While an upgrade, Favre also has the capability of ruining things in a hurry.
Only time will tell.
Welcome back, Brett.