I just don't get excited about a quarterback with a rebuilt shoulder, one that turns 40 this season. I know I'm in the minority on this one, but I think he fails to get the Vikings to the playoffs -- Pete Prisco, preseason.
Was this it, the beginning of the undoing of Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre, a time when he starts to look his age of 40, forcing some to question if he maybe should have stayed down on the farm? Admit it. Some of you are waiting for him to start to look like a broken-down old man, his passes going to the other team, his pocket presence becoming flawed and his decision-making becoming questionable. OK, I admit it. I expect it to happen. Not if, but when -- Pete Prisco, Oct. 25 after the Vikings lose to Steelers.
Go ahead. Laugh it up. Mock me. Insult my intelligence. Even wonder how I got my job, asking if my dad is actually the head of CBS (he isn't).
|Will Brett Favre have the last laugh again? (US Presswire)|
So here goes: I was wrong.
I can admit it -- at least for now.
Ah, the disclaimer. Right about now, you're saying that it never stops, that it's not even a full admission.
It isn't because this is what I have to say now: Favre has had a special season, significantly better than I expected, and he's a major reason the Vikings will play the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game Sunday, but if he doesn't win, the season, and especially the move to sign him, can't be considered a success.
He is a hired mercenary, and if he doesn't complete the mission, it's a failure.
Super Bowl ring or it's a bust.
I can hear the screaming from the ice fishing set all the way in Florida. Which of you wouldn't mind sticking me down one of those holes? What do I have against Favre? Nothing. It's just about football.
"This is what I came back for," Favre said after the Vikings beat the Cowboys in last week's NFC divisional round.
No, you came back to win it all, not to win a playoff game. Two years ago, Favre was in this very spot -- only he was wearing Green Bay Packers colors and he was playing at home -- sixty minutes between himself and his third Super Bowl.
We know how that ended. It was a Favre interception in overtime that set up the New York Giants' game-winning field goal and that led to the change in Green Bay. They thought he was close to done, and wanted to go with Aaron Rodgers.
Favre retired. Then he wanted back in. The Packers said no, making Ted Thompson the man Favre loves to hate.
The New York Jets said yes, and talked him off the tractor and made a trade to get him. But Favre looked old and battered late in the 2008 season, and we later found out his arm was hurting in a big way. So the Jets let him go. He considered retiring again. But then, after training camp came and went, he wanted to play again -- another selfish move because he didn't want to take part in camp.
The Vikings decided they would take a chance on his rebuilt arm. They had little choice really when you consider they weren't exactly loaded at the quarterback position, but had plenty of talent elsewhere.
At 40, he was thought to be a caretaker for the offense. It would still be Adrian Peterson's show, but Favre would help back off defenses. Eight in the box would be no more.
We were all wrong. As the season moved along, the Vikings became Favre's team, Peterson became the complimentary player. Peterson's rushing numbers were down, while the passing numbers were up.
Favre led the Vikings to a division title, which they last won in 2008 with Tarvaris Jackson. So Farve had to win last week to make his $12 million salary look validated. He did, but the way I see it, he has to win this week and in two weeks in Miami to really make it all worthwhile.
They didn't sign him to be a championship game loser again. Ending as the conference runner-up isn't what Brad Childress expected when he played valet for Favre in the summer, picking him up at the airport like a wide-eyed, star-struck fan.
If the Vikings lose to the Saints, the Favre-Childress sideline altercation will grow like a Tiger Woods rumor or that Pants on the Floor video. It's put aside now, but much more will be made of it if things go rotten. You'll also probably hear selfish Favre talk, much like you did in Green Bay and with the Jets. You'll hear how some of his teammates didn't really like him all that much.
That is, if you can find it through the media slobber that surrounds him.
Everything is so smooth now. Winning is like Compound W: It gets rid of all the warts. When you lose, those ugly damn things come right back.
The last time Favre played in a Super Bowl, he was matched against John Elway. Have you seen Elway lately? He looks 60, a retiree for 11 years.
That makes the Favre story pretty amazing. I didn't think a 40-year-old could do what he's done. Some of his throws have been truly jaw-dropping impressive. There have been moments of unrest, like the end of the Pittsburgh loss and the loss at Carolina, but he's been playing a lot of mistake-free football.
Prisco: Championship picks
Judge: Title game analysis
AFC preview: Kirwan on Jets-Colts
NFC preview: Kirwan on Vikes-Saints
End Zone: Remaining QBs
End Zone: Title game X-Factors
Judge: Analyzing final-four QBs
Visser: Some Saints fans love Favre
SI.com: Banks' NFC title game breakdown
The stories raving about his boyish-like passion for the game become bigger by the week, the adulation from the media is almost President Obama-like. For some reason, Favre has received a lifetime pass from the national media. Do you even remember he went to rehab for Vicodin? Yes, he's matured and changed, for the better, but it's a blip on his resume, forgotten by most. Other players wouldn't be so lucky if that were them.
"I came back for the opportunity and hopes of getting back to the Super Bowl, no doubt about it," Favre said this week. "People may think that I'm pulling their leg, but I really don't feel like there's anything left to prove. The thing with playing 19 years is, like you're saying, Elway being retired for so long, people actually forget that I actually had success, had been in a Super Bowl. I have to remind them of that sometimes: "Hey, you know I've played in the Super Bowl." And, they say, "Really?" I guess I've played so long that I kind of have to re-justify that I was actually a pretty good player at one time."
Actually, you were once a great player. And you've been pretty darn good this season, making me look foolish in the process.
But there's work left to do. Championship game losers don't get rings. And losing teams don't get remembered. If Favre wasn't the loser, I bet you wouldn't even know the Packers fell in the NFC title game two years ago. Losing teams in title games go to the football abyss, usually forgotten by most.
The only thing that will validate the decision to sign Favre is to win the Super Bowl. Somebody asked Vikings coach Brad Childress about validation this week and here's what he said:
"You know, you don't want to get into if I had to be validated as a coach by wins and losses. Like I've said, I'd be in the fetal position a lot of the time by my locker," Childress said. "You know what you know. You do the best that you possibly can. We've got good players, good coaches, good ownership, and I'm not worried about getting validated. You have a vision, you sell your vision, and the success thing is never final. It's what have you done for me lately, including this week."
If they don't beat the Saints, there will a lot of people in the Gopher State in the fetal position. And it will mean that there is no validation, no matter how they try to shape it.
Super Bowl ring or the moves a bust. And that's that.