EDEN PRAIRIE, MINNESOTA // Brett Favre's latest summer of indecision finally appears to be over. Favre arrived in Minnesota on Tuesday and it would not be a surprise to see him in a Vikings helmet and the quarterback's jersey when the team takes to the field for this week's practice sessions. In a scene nearly identical to his signing with Minnesota a year ago, Favre took a private plane from Mississippi on the Tuesday following the Vikings' first pre-season game, was followed by news helicopters from a suburban airport to the team headquarters and was greeted by dozens of fans and media members upon his arrival.
The big difference? His signing with the Vikings - Green Bay's bitter NFC North rival - was a stunner to most observers who watched Favre torment Minnesota for so long as a member of the Packers. This time around, virtually everyone expected the quarterback who spends every summer on the verge of retirement to return for a 20th NFL season. Favre's latest dalliance centred around an ankle that was injured in the NFC championship game loss to New Orleans in January. Favre had surgery on his left ankle in June and told teammates and team officials earlier in August that he did not think he had another full season left in him.
This is the third successive summer the Vikings have dealt with questions about Favre, so they were not convinced he was done. The team sent Jared Allen, Steve Hutchinson and Ryan Longwell - three of the 40-year-old quarterback's closest friends on the team - to Mississippi to woo Favre one more time, and it appears to have worked. Despite Favre's late afternoon arrival at Winter Park, the Vikings did not hold a news conference on Tuesday or put out a statement officially announcing the quarterback was returning for another season.
Brad Childress,the head coach, is due to talk to the media within the next 24 hours, and the team also said that a "media availability with QB Brett Favre is to be determined". Now it is time to see if the old man can do it all again. The gray-haired Favre turned in one of his best seasons of a terrific career last year, throwing 33 touchdowns with seven interceptions to lead the Vikings to the NFC North title.
He threw for 310 yards and a touchdown against the Saints in the Superdome, but also threw an interception in New Orleans territory at the end of regulation that cost them a chance at a winning field goal that would have put Minnesota in the Super Bowl for the first time in 33 years. After getting cajoled by his friends, Favre will have one more shot at redemption and a second Lombardi Trophy. Yet even though everyone assumed he would be back, the same hysteria surrounded his return on Tuesday. Fans clogged Viking Drive, and police tried to control traffic and keep youngsters and television cameras from spilling on to the street.
Even though he will turn 41 in October, Favre does not expect to need much time to get warmed up and ready for another season. He skipped all of the training camp last year before joining the Vikings and the three-time MVP delivered a season even he did not expect. He set career bests in completion percentage (68.4), quarterback rating (107.2) and fewest interceptions, while throwing for 4,202 yards.
The Vikings (12-4) reached the NFC play-offs, and Favre became the first 40-year-old quarterback to win a play-off game against the Dallas Cowboys. * Associated Press