How close was Favre to playing for Minnesota?
As the Brett Favre situation unfolded this summer, it became clear he wanted one of two things. Favre either wanted to end his retirement and return to the Packers as their starting quarterback, or he wanted his release so he could sign with the ...
As the Brett Favre situation unfolded this summer, it became clear he wanted one of two things.
Favre either wanted to end his retirement and return to the Packers as their starting quarterback, or he wanted his release so he could sign with the Vikings.
Favre ended up accepting a trade to the Jets, but the question remains: Did the Vikings ever have a realistic shot at getting the 38-year-old?
"Maybe that was vindictive, competitive," Favre said of his desire to play for the Vikings. "In the end, that was probably the wrong motive."
No matter his motives, the Vikings had to be flattered that a Hall of Fame quarterback wanted to play for them. Favre knew he could step in and run the team's West Coast offense -- he had the same system in Green Bay for years -- and liked the fact the team's offseason additions make it a playoff contender.
While Favre expressed a repeated desire to move four hours west on Highway 29, Packers GM Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy simply could not stomach the thought of seeing Favre with their archrival. The Packers might have wanted to begin the Aaron Rodgers era, but Favre was still good enough to guide the Packers to a 13-3 record and a berth in the NFC title game last season. If Favre had similar success in Minnesota, Thompson knew the fallout would be severe.
"I think from Brett's point of view, (the chance for him) to get here was to be someone that he never was and that was to put up a huge fuss and a huge stink and that's just not Brett Favre," said Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell, who spent his first nine seasons as Favre's teammate in Green Bay. "I think he always wanted the best for his teammates and the locker room over there, and therefore he was willing to let Ted and the guys over there do what they could do."
While it certainly could be argued that Favre did put up a public fuss, by that point the chances of him landing in Minnesota had greatly diminished.
The Packers made sure of that when they filed tampering charges against the Vikings for "inappropriate contact" with Favre. Exactly what evidence the Packers had remains unclear.
There was a report Favre had a Packers-issued cell phone and that when the team checked the phone records, there were "repeated calls" to Vikings coach Brad Childress and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. Favre later denied the Packers had any such evidence but admitted he communicated with Childress and Bevell -- just as he did with countless other friends with ties to other NFL franchises.
Whatever was said in those conversations wasn't really important. What was important -- and what the Packers wanted to accomplish all along -- was to have the league put the fear of God into every member of the Minnesota organization.
The Packers took this step in part because they felt Minnesota conversations with Favre were done to cause turmoil in Green Bay. (Mission accomplished.)
Officials from the NFL's security division arrived at Winter Park on July 22 and interviewed Childress and Bevell. Favre also was questioned on the matter around that time. The league's investigators must have been satisfied, because two weeks later the Vikings were cleared of the charges by commissioner Roger Goodell.
While Goodell was investigating, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported the Packers had internal discussions about trading Favre within the division. An outright release was never a possibility, given the fact Green Bay clearly still thought Favre had value.
There might have been internal discussions among Vikings officials about Favre, but by all accounts it never appeared to go much further. The only known contact between the teams occurred two weeks ago but was extremely preliminary.
While the Vikings answered Favre questions on a daily basis, players said the situation was never a distraction and stood by Tarvaris Jackson as team's starting quarterback. Childress did the same as he faced a regular line of questioning on the subject.
He's thankful those questions now will come to a halt.
"I don't know how you guys feel about old news," Childress told reporters. "It's generally not good to write the same thing twice. I'm glad that you guys won't be able to get away with old news anymore."