Now we survey the wreckage.
Brett Favre’s decision to remain retired instead of joining the Minnesota Vikings, has some serious ramifications. The Vikings organization… hahahahahahahhahahaha!… sorry, lost my train of thought. Oh yeah, the Vikings. Let’s start at the top, with the chief bonehead.
Vikings coach Brad Childress released a statement yesterday, saying the Favre saga is behind the team, which we totally buy.
“It was a rare and unique opportunity to consider adding not only a future Hall of Fame quarterback but one that is very familiar with our system and division. That does not detract from the team that we have. As we have consistently communicated, we feel good about our team and they have put forth a tremendous effort this offseason preparing for the season ahead. With this behind us, we look forward to getting to Mankato and getting training camp under way.”
Meanwhile, the guys Favre was being brought in to replace – Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson – are saying it’s business as usual. Rosenfels told the St. Paul Pioneer Press he harbors no hard feelings.
Rosenfels said he appreciated that Childress didn’t call him to “BS me.” But in one of the last sessions of the organized team activities, Childress talked to all of his quarterbacks.
“He said: ‘I’m not sure what’s going to happen. But prepare as if he’s not coming,’ ” Rosenfels recalled. “I would have done that, either way.”
And if Favre would have become a Viking?
“It would have been a tough pill to swallow,” Rosenfels said. “But I understood what was going on..”
Sure, Rosenfels is saying the right things, but I think it’s BS.
Favre actually told the Vikings he wouldn’t play for them last week, and coaches and players still tried to convince him to reconsider. We’re not talking about just any players, either. Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen and Steve Hutchinson – three of the Vikings’ best players – all contacted Favre to try to get him to reconsider.
If I’m Rosenfels or Jackson, that tells me that not only does my coach not have faith in me, but neither do three of the team’s leaders. As the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Jim Souhan notes, the Vikings are in damage control mode.
Vikings coach Brad Childress, who kept his players in the dark while winking at Favre, now must pretend that he was a luxury instead of a necessity, that his current quarterbacks are good enough to win a playoff game, that this 12-car pileup of a courtship was nothing more than a fender bender. Nothing to see here, folks; please move along.
Viking players will have to face Jackson and Rosenfels in the locker room and huddle, knowing that the current quarterbacks know that the team’s stars were texting love letters to Favre.
And then there’s the expectations, which clearly have to be tempered, now. As the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Tom Powers notes, the Vikings went from a Super Bowl contender with Favre, to something not quite as attractive.
But going from Brett Favre to Jackson or Rosenfels is like going from filet mignon to turkey jerky. Although it should be noted that turkey jerky has more of a loyal following than Jackson or Rosenfels. This has to be a tremendous letdown for a team on the eve of training camp.
The Vikings now appear poised to enter the season with an otherwise championship-caliber team marred by substandard options at quarterback. It’s a shame, because the organization nearly addressed its Achilles’ heel in fantastic fashion. Instead, it still has two serious flaws — the other being a second-rate head coach.
Speaking of that second-rate coach, the Green Bay Press Gazette’s Mike Vandermause took a well-aimed shot at Childress, as well.
The Vikings knew all about Favre’s mighty struggle every year on the retirement issue. Yet instead of imposing a hard-and-fast deadline, Childress served as Favre’s enabler by allowing him to take as much time as he wanted to make a decision about his future.
It left the Vikings organization shrouded in uncertainty and spoke volumes about the slip-shod nature of their operation. It also reaffirmed that the Packers made the correct decision a year ago in moving on without Favre. No team should allow itself to be held hostage by one player.
Which brings me to the Green Bay Packers and general manager Ted Thompson, who has consistently been skewered for running Brett Favre out of town. How does Ted Thompson look now? In NFL circles, he looks pretty smart.
L.A. Times columnist Sam Farmer tweeted the following quote from San Diego Chargers’ general manager A.J. Smith, yesterday:
“The only thing I’ve been thinking throughout this whole (Favre) situation is how smart Ted Thompson looks.”
Fox Sports’ Adrian Hasenmayer makes a similar assessment of Thompson’s decision to move on without Favre.
One year later, the embattled Thompson was proven correct. Favre was one-and-done with the Jets and teased them and the Vikings this offseason, while the Packers’ new franchise QB, Aaron Rodgers, is signed into the next decade.
And if Thompson kept Favre last summer, Rodgers was as good as gone after what would have been his free-agent year in ’08.
So this is it then, right? Of course not. Favre’s agent, Bus Cook, left the door slightly ajar on the possibility of Favre playing again.
“I don’t want to go there, because there could be that isolated incident where some team… I don’t think he would go to a team unless it was a contender. In fact, he probably wouldn’t go to a team unless it was the Minnesota Vikings. Then again, that door is probably closed,” Cook told ESPN.
Let’s hope, for sanity’s sake, that door is closed.
What’s more important right now, is what this means. As anyone who follows the Green Bay Packers will remember, last offseason was a circus in Green Bay, and it negatively impacted the team.
I won’t suggest last season’s Favre saga is the reason the Packers’ defense was a sieve or resulted in any of Mike McCarthy’s boneheaded coaching move, but it did consistently take the focus off of football.
The Vikings are now dealing with that same scenario, and it will impact the team negatively. Whoever their quarterback turns out to be will likely have some major confidence and trust issues. The players have to be deflated after thinking they were getting a player who made them a legitimate Super Bowl contender. The coaching staff, meanwhile, hasn’t been focusing 100 percent on preparing for the season, instead spending time on their courtship of Favre and dealing with the media circus surrounding it.
All of this is good news for the Green Bay Packers. While the Vikings could rally together as a group, something tells me that won’t happen and their brief reign over the NFC North is in serious jeopardy.
The Favre questions will persist for Minnesota throughout training camp. They’ll come in the regular season, especially when Rosenfels or Jackson doesn’t perform well. There will be whispers within the organization. All of it will make a tough NFL season even tougher.
My prediction: the Vikings fall to third in the NFC North, Brad Childress is looking for a job after the season.