EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Vikings head coach Brad Childress has a tradition with any new player. After their first practice, they must say their name, where they're from, and something unique about themselves. Quarterback Brett Favre had that opportunity after Tuesday's practice. He said: "I'm Brett from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and I'm the only guy on this team who was born in the '60s."
Right then according to Favre, the ice was broken. What began as a normal training camp day for the Vikings with every starting job accounted for except the quarterback position quickly changed. As news of Favre's signing began to circulate in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, fans gathered across the street from the Vikings' Winter Park practice facility eagerly awaiting the future Hall of Famer. A large crowd eventually swarmed Childress's black SUV -- which contained Favre in the front seat -- so much so that an Eden Prairie police officer had to threaten to arrest people if they didn't disperse.
There is only way to recap the scene: Surreal. Rookie wide receiver Percy Harvin, watching from the team cafeteria, remarked, "It was crazy!"
Favrestock or Favreapalooza, whichever you choose, has begun.
Nearly three weeks after telling Childress no, Favre had a change of heart. It all started with a phone call from Childress on Monday.
"I just wanted to verify [his no stance]," Childress said. "I can be persistent. It was a small window to reconsider." Childress added that it didn't take long for Favre to say yes. Only a few hours later, Favre donned the Vikings' No. 4 for the start of Tuesday afternoon's practice.
Almost assuredly so, he looked rusty. On one handoff attempt, he collided with running back Chester Taylor. On the next handoff, he tangled feet with a backup fullback. He left throws short and long. But he showed flashes of brilliance.
He connected with rookie wide receiver Percy Harvin on a laser 25 yards down the middle of the field. On a deep ball to wide receiver Sidney Rice down the right sideline, he landed it in perfectly.
"It was high, one of the highest balls I've ever caught," Rice said. "He gave me an opportunity to make a play on the ball."
Kicker Ryan Longwell, after spending nine seasons with Favre in Green Bay, knows the kind of impact the quarterback brings. "It's exciting. He definitely brings an energy and a vibe to the team, to the state and to the fans." All-Pro left guard Steve Hutchinson added: "To get a Hall of Fame guy who will be a leader in the locker room, it'll be a big plus for the team."
That Hall of Fame guy did admit to having a torn rotator cuff, something he has been dealing with for quite some time.
"I still had a little bit of pain [after the torn biceps surgery on the throwing arm in May]," Favre said. "They did an MRI and it showed that I had this rotator cuff tear. Within the past three weeks, I talked to Dr. [James] Andrews and was reassured that it wouldn't be an issue."
The Vikings, including Childress, were kept completely informed along the way.
"It was a long process," Childress said. "From the surgery to the MRI to speaking to Dr. Andrews to looking at those rotator cuff pictures. It was all hammered out throughout the process."
So, with a torn rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder, Favre marches on, getting 19 fewer practice days than the rest of his teammates to prepare for the Sept. 13 opener at Cleveland.
Could the little amount of practice time be a problem?
"I don't think so," linebacker Ben Leber said following practice. "In the end it won't be a big deal. It's an offense he's known his entire career."
It's an offense Favre will get to patrol starting on Friday night at the Metrodome against Kansas City.
"I expect him to play," Childress said.
Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe might have summed up the day best for the team: "He's a legend. We can't wait to get to work because we've got a lot of work to do on the road to the Super Bowl."