Amid the never-ending supply of hogwash reporting that’s surrounded the Brett Favre retirement saga this summer (and last), one could have hardly blamed Pat Kirwan if the longtime NFL analyst had faxed an “I told you so” statement to every newsroom in America on Tuesday.
The Sirius radio host/CBS television contributor was one of the few league observers who stuck to his guns during the Minnesota Vikings’ courtship of the 39-year-old quarterback, insisting throughout the summer that Favre would eventually sign with the team when the timing was right. Back in June, Kirwan vehemently shot down a report by ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and Ed Werder that the Vikings had given Favre a one-week deadline to decide whether he would be the team’s quarterback this fall.
But Kirwan avoided the temptation to pat himself on the back following Tuesday’s announcement that the Vikings had signed Favre to a two-year deal. Instead, Kirwan offered some more insight into the team’s recruitment of Favre during a phone interview with “The Miller and Moulton Show” on WWCN-AM (770) in Estero, Fla.
“(Favre) wasn’t ready, he wanted to keep working, he’s not crazy about camp, and he already knows the offense,” Kirwan answered when asked why it took so long for the deal to be finalized. “It’s really just 10 days later than when he went to the Jets (last summer), and he didn’t know a thing about the Jets. I think that’s the most interesting story now – how is Brad (Childress, Vikings coach) going to treat him?”
Kirwan, the one-time director of player administration for the New York Jets and a longtime scout, is a close friend of Childress.
“I got a chance to talk to Brad (Tuesday) morning about how they’re going to handle the guy so you get the most out of him when it counts the most,” Kirwan said. “Brett made a comment that the first day he went to the Jets he threw 200 passes. He was excited to be there, he wanted to show everybody he still had an arm – and he started damaging his arm right away. I think you’re going to see them really modify and manage him in the practice sessions the next month or so, and I don’t think you’re ever going to see him on a pitch count higher than 100 passes a day. It is Brett, and Brett is a gunslinger as we all know and he wants to throw the ball – so you’ve got to manage him.”
Kirwan believes Childress and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell – a friend of Favre’s from his days as a Green Bay assistant – are the right men for the job.
“I think where the strength of this relationship is going to be is that he and Brad Childress and Darrell Bevell really know each other very well,” Kirwan said. “This thing has been discussed a hundred times over, and I think Brett is going to appreciate guys who can manage him so he can extend his career. … If he has the kind of year that some people are predicting, he’s going to be there next year – which is what I’ve been saying all along.
“He is not walking away from this opportunity after 16 games.”
Kirwan also shot down suggestions in some media reports that Vikings players would be upset by the fact Favre spurned the team’s initial offer, then missed a substantial portion of training camp.
“I’ve talked to a lot of their players,” Kirwan said. “A lot of their players would have liked for him to come at the beginning (of training camp). They understood there was a chance he wasn’t going to come (at all), and they got that. I’ve talked to (Vikings defensive end) Jared Allen on the record a couple times and off the record a hundred times – those guys were hoping he was coming. But since he wasn’t going to be a part of camp and possibly not even a part of their football team, they had to proceed like he’s not coming.
“I don’t know what people expect players and coaches and front-office people to say every time someone with a laptop wants a question answered.”
The bottom line, Kirwan believes, is that the acquisition of the wily veteran makes a young Vikings team better.
“This team won the division without him, so they’re going to be better with him,” he said. “I know Brad Childress has had long talks with Brett about what Terrell Davis did for John Elway, and I know Brett does not fight the running game. So there will be opportunities to throw against three-deep coverage because they’re going to have the safety down (to contain Vikings All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson), and there’s going to be opportunities to run the ball against two high safeties – which Adrian Peterson’s never seen – because they still have to protect against Brett’s ability to throw the deep ball.
“So does the team embrace him when he gets out there? Yes.”