BBC BLOGS - Neil Reynolds
« Previous | Main | Next »

Favre Bowl highlights the power of the Vikings

Post categories:

Neil Reynolds | 15:23 UK time, Tuesday, 3 November 2009

I don't think we'll ever truly know if Brett Favre was forced into his first retirement by the Green Bay Packers in 2008. But it is clear that when Favre announced he would return to the playing field later that same year he was no longer wanted by the Packers.

General manager Ted Thompson made it clear that Aaron Rodgers was his quarterback and it was time to begin a new era at Lambeau Field after 16 seasons under Favre's control.

Favre went on to play for the New York Jets in 2008 before retiring again this past off-season. Of course, we have since discovered the itch to play in the NFL remained and Favre joined the Minnesota Vikings in August.

On Sunday, the boo-birds were out in force in Green Bay as Favre guided the Vikings to a 38-26 victory by throwing four touchdown passes in another vintage display. I think those fans who once cheered for Favre will appreciate him again down the line when his career is finally over, but he had to expect a rough ride after becoming the poster boy for the Packers' hated rivals.

Like many NFL fans around the world, I grew tired with Favre's 'will he, won't he' approach to retirement over the summer and I think there were times when he was misleading towards the media.

A cynic might suggest he asked for his release from the Jets in order to free up a later move to Minnesota, rather than to retire from the game for a second time.

Aaron Rodgers took over as Green Bay quarterback from Brett Favre in 2008

I also had images of Favre from the back end of the 2008 season - when he was a shadow of his former self while playing hurt for New York - firmly in my mind. I worried that he would damage his legacy by making yet another return to the NFL.

I was wrong.

Favre is relatively healthy for a 40-year-old man - although he has another 11 games to survive if the Vikings are to win the Super Bowl. He can still gun the ball into the tightest of windows with the very best of them and there is nothing he hasn't seen before.

You never get the feeling the game is too big for Favre, and that cannot be said about some of the Packers on Sunday, who often looked like the youngest team in the NFL, particularly in the first half when they let the occasion get to them.

I'm not completely falling for the 'Favre plays for the love of the game' line. Favre loves the attention, Favre loves Favre and Favre loves the dollars that go with being one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL.

But there is no denying he has a clear passion for this sport and that is one of the reasons why he has found it so difficult to walk away from the gridiron. Having watched him play against the Packers on Sunday night, it is clear the NFL is a much better place with Favre in the league.

And the Vikings are a better team for having Favre under centre. His first touchdown pass against the Packers was his 13th of the 2009 season - given an entire season, no Minnesota quarterback has reached that total in the past four years.

Favre is also blessed with being surrounded by some serious offensive firepower. Adrian Peterson is the best running back in the business and he has playmaking targets in the passing game in Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, Bernard Berrian and Visanthe Shiancoe.

With a fairly strong defence also in place, the Vikings appear capable of making a serious run at the Super Bowl.

While their ambitions might not be quite so lofty, I think Green Bay can still rightly call themselves playoff contenders in the NFC. And despite seeing Favre get the better of them twice this season, they made the right call in going with Rodgers.

Favre would certainly fare no better in Green Bay than Rodgers is right now. In fact, he might do a whole lot worse because the Packers have struggles along the offensive line and the majority of plays being made in the passing game are coming as a result of Rodgers' ability to move out of the pocket and throw on the run.

Until they can shore up their protections, the Packers will remain fairly limited, but they have to like what they have seen from Rodgers up to this point of his career. He is the real deal.

Rodgers has a big-time arm, he is accurate and he is an outstanding leader. The Packers looked dead and buried at half-time on Sunday but Rodgers grabbed his team by the scruff of the neck and dragged them - almost single-handedly - back into the contest.

By the end of the game he was exhausted, bruised and battered - but he should also have been proud. He showed he deserved to be on the same field as Favre and has a bright future ahead of him.

Some Packers fans might cast an envious glance at Minnesota and wish they had number four back. But that would be wrong. The Vikings didn't win on Sunday purely because of Favre - Peterson, Harvin, Shiancoe and Berrian all made huge plays at critical times.

But had the Packers found a way to come all the way back and win the game, Rodgers would have been the key to that victory.

Green Bay have themselves a very good quarterback in Rodgers. And if they can find a way to protect him and surround him with elite talent, he has all the tools to become a great passer.


  • Comment number 1.

    Great report as always Neil.
    I have been an avid Favre Watch fan for years and was interested to read an article by Andrew Brandt in the National Football Post. He worked for the Packers and knows Favre better than a lot of 'experts' and was saying how Favre got lonely as the Pack were the youngest team in the league. How he spent hours in production meetings because he liked talking to Madden, Aikman etc.

    Aikman said during the game sunday perhaps Favre didnt want to be in Green Bay anymore. Brandt suggested that we should take note of this comment as he may well be on to something.

    He is now part of a veteran team and a scheme he knows so well and where the coaches are friendly with him.

    It was also an interesting insight into Ted Thompson and how he doesnt like confrontation, which would fit with Favre claiming he didnt respond to texts.

    Favre plays for the love of the game, because its all he knows, because he loves the spotlight and of course 12 million dollars a year is always a nice bonus.

    I must also applaud your article after your original one where you said he would struggle unlike on CBS Sportsline where the experts bash Favre when he makes a mistake but barely praise him when he plays well.

    I feel like my Quarterback won on Sunday but my team lost and that is what a lot of Packer fans would be feeling like since Sunday and its very strange indeed.

    I think the Packers will be 8-8 this season but in the long run we made the only choice we could based on the situation that took place in 2008.

    The Vikings took a gamble on Favre and on current form only New Orleans stand between them and a championship so both sides have won.

    The only loser is Favres legacy in Green Bay

  • Comment number 2.

    "The Vikings took a gamble on Favre and on current form only New Orleans stand between them and a championship so both sides have won."

    Neil and the comment above, wilst i agree on current form the above would seem correct there is a number of problems with the comments.

    1. The play-offs dont start until January and we are still in November.
    2. One year ago you could have wrote the exact same article about Favre and the Jets. Favre was being kept loose and fresh by the AFC's leading rushing attack. The end of the Jets season makes me question whether Favre can do it for an entire year. Lets see how he performs in December.
    3. The Vikings have played Cleveland, Detroit and St Louis this year so far - its hardly a tough schedule.
    4. Their biggest tests came against Baltimore and Pitsburgh and if not for a missed last minute FG they would have been 0-2 in those games.
    5. The Vikings were a play-off team anyway - they got their last year with Jackson and Frerotte as QB. Dont make out like Favre has suddenly made turned them into SB contenders because they should have been Superbowl contenders anyway.

    At the end of the year the Vikings wont be in the Superbowl and will go down in the play-offs like last year.

    The Vikings will then have to decide if Favre is worth another year at 41 years old or is it time to go back in time a season and hand the job back to Jackson or do they start again with a rookie. Whichever option they choose 2009/ 2010 will be a no better season than 2008/2009.

  • Comment number 3.

    Neil - interesting piece. As an avowed Vikings fan here in St Paul, there's a real buzz about the place. People actually feel that we've got a decent chance of making the Super Bowl. However, there's one concern - we can't kill teams off. You saw that against the Packers (twice) and the Steelers last week. We're incredibly susceptible to silly mistakes (see the Steelers game) and our defence appears to exhaust itself in the second half.

    One thing I will say though is that alongside Peterson et al, it may well have been worth mentioning Mr Jared Allen, who to the defense, is just as important as Favre is to the offense. His performance in the first game versus Greenbay was truly exceptional... And GB hate him!

  • Comment number 4.

    Good article, Neil. Although I have to agree with Comment 2 in that January is a long way off. It seems that all roads to the Super Bowl in the NFC lead through New Orleans at the moment.

    As for next year, I can't see the Vikings staying with Favre for another year, and have yet to see anything from Tarvaris Jackson that convinces me he is the future for the franchise. Bringing Favre in this year underlined this.

    Unless Jackson is able to milk everything from Favre about how to play the game, I'd expect the Vikings to be very active from February to April (be it in free agency, trading or the draft) to get someone that can take them forward from next season.

  • Comment number 5.

    Neil, good points well put. Minnesota look to have the division sewn up right now, especially with the next two games being against a woeful Detroit and a spluttering Seattle. The battle between the Bears and the Packers however looks mighty. Before the two teams meet at Soldier Field in week 14, they both face a mix of good, bad and ugly. Packers fans can look at upcoming games against Tampa and Detroit as sure fire wins, in the same way as Bears fans will see a home game against the Cardinals and the visit of St Louis as points in the bag. However, the shadow of Mike Singletary looms big over both teams prior to their pre Christmas get together, with both teams facing the 49ers. Throw in Baltimore and Dallas for the Pack and the Eagles and Mr Favre's Vikings for the Bears and the game takes on a whole new meaning, as one or other will be going for the wild card slot. Erik #4 is bang on - everything points to the Saints, but hey I didn't give the Steelers a prayer last year! Go Bears!

  • Comment number 6.

    The difference between the Vikings and last years Jets, in simple terms, is Adrian Peterson. Brett Favre has far less pressure on him knowing that he can reliably hand the ball sideways and watch AP chew up the yards against pretty much any team. The Jets never really had the same level of consistency against the better teams.

    As someone who is fairly neutral to the whole NFC (Broncos fan) I would love to see the Favre roadshow roll into another Superbowl, if not to win, to simply see him take over every single record there possibly is for a quarterback. If you read his Wikipedia entry, he has most of them already but a few more are sure to fall in the playoffs.

  • Comment number 7.

    I get confused when people say they do not buy into Favre's love to play attitude. I thought GB offered him 20 million to be their PR guy? If that was the case, and he turned it down, then this cannot be all about money. I do not have any insight on the man, he is a complete stranger; but, my philosophy is Favre may feel a connection with his dad when he is on the field. His emotions may come from the feeling that walking away from his dad's sport validates his dad's departure. Fear and loss are confusing and crazy emotions and football has been the one constant in this man's life. I agree with a few of you who stated the Saints will be in the Superbowl and rightfully so. As painful as that is for me to admit as a Favre fan. Aloud, I say I would love to see Favre win the Superbowl this year but, if it means he leaves the game forever, I take it back.
    Ironically, I hear men bad mouth Brett Favre like all the hype with T-Jackson and the rest of the Vikes before the season started and now they seem fine ~ Allen refered to him as excellence in an interview. His teammates seem to respect him. After the game on Sunday, I saw a lot of hugs between Favre and the men in green. I do not respect AR ~ could care less about his career....he is an arrogant man who lives off Brett Favre's success. Telling fans to deal with it or shut up??? I guess he buys into MM and TT's lies and believes his career started where Favre left off in GB. Great QB's win games, not necessarily have high individual stats. If I remember correctly in Favre's career in GB he did not make it to the play offs for one season??? If that is the case than AR has burned his "free pass" and had better step up and make the play offs consecutively for the next 15 years~
    I also agree that Favre never would have lasted in Green Bay physically, he is too banged up to take that many hits.
    The man is amazing~ Goes to the Jets on a whim right before the season starts and takes them on a great run. Even injured the Jets overall record was greater than the Pack~ and he is "old" and did not know their offense...AR backed "the man" up since 2005, what did he learn on the sidelines anyway?
    Then, Favre goes to the Vikes after camp and is 7-1....while the Pack is building their team Favre has learned a completely new offense, beat the packs record, took the off season off, had surgery, was begged to return to the NFL on his terms and then leads an "unknown" offense to 7-1 and people want to talk about the teams he has played against. No, his schedule may not have been that tough this year, but in comparison, it is all pretty evenly divided. However, as a "rookie" to his new home team, he has blown Rodgers away and AR is playing on the only professional NFL team and the only offense he knows. I cannot think of too many qb's who could walk a mile in Favre's shoes, and this man is 40!!!

  • Comment number 8.

    Ravens_defense... That is a very good point you make about Favre and the Vikings in 2010. Would they want a 41-year-old QB? Probably given how he has played this year. But would Favre want to go through training camp etc... Absolutely not !! And I don't see a way he could come in a month before the season KO for the 2nd year in a row. Brad Childress might have to go back to Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels and say, "Guys, I believed in you the whole time!!"

    Ewan Watt... You are right about Jared Allen - he has been awesome this season and is clearly one of the best defenders in the NFL right now.

  • Comment number 9.

    Dawn... I agree with what you say about Favre and his team-mates... I know for a fact he was not hugely popular in NY but you are right to point out the amount of Packers who came over to hug him on Sunday. And when I interviewed Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell last week he told me the players in the locker room genuinely love Favre and he is a guy who you can poke fun at.

    But I think you have Aaron Rodgers painted all wrong. I don't ever recall him telling GB fans to shut up and he has acted with class whenever asked about the Favre situation in recent years. You could forgive the guy for going into a total meltdown about Favre but he has handled himself with class the whole time.

    In fact, in the summer I recall Favre telling people when he was coming back "to deal with it." So you might be assigning a quote from your hero to Rodgers.

    Either way, you are being harsh on a truly talented passer. Rodgers held up his end of the bargain on Sunday - it's just not yet physically possible for a QB to block for himself and also play defense while passing the ball downfield.

    Replacing a legend is never easy, but the Packers DO have a very promising quarterback on the field in Rodgers. And one who acts with class every single time I have heard him speak.

  • Comment number 10.

    "Brad Childress might have to go back to Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels and say, "Guys, I believed in you the whole time!!""

    Neil, this may be the situation and it isnt an enviable one.

    Jackson - I have to disgaree with Erik_Bo after being dumped for a poor veteran last year Jackson showed he has what it takes to be an NFL starting QB with a guy like Peterson at HB. Remember he came back in last year when the Vikings were 7-5 and lead them to a 10-6 record to get them to the play-offs - including a win versus the Giants on the last day of the regular season.

    If Favre does finally retire after this and Childress does say "I believed in you the whole time", Jackson will know this is an empty statement and at the first sign of weakness he will be dumped. The guy's confidence must be in tatters and I'm not sure he has a future in Minnesota.

    Rosenfels - A career back-up who could be effective in the right set-up. Im not convinced he is the right man to lead a franchise to the Superbowl though. Considering the amount of back-ups that were avaliable in free agency and the age of some areas of the Vikings I'm suprised they gave up a fourth round pick for him.

    All in all the Vikings have given themselves 2 years to win a SB with Favre.

    They could have given themselves a 10 year window allowing Jackson, Peterson, Harvin, Sidney Rice, Shiancoe to develop into a potent offense. In the meantime using their top round picks and free agency to replace ageing stars on defense.

  • Comment number 11.

    I had to look back but I found the quote, it was in the Sports Illustrated:
    below is quoted from the bleacher's report approximately one year ago:
    This is a tidbit of the article written by SI's Chris Ballard:

    "Rodgers grew up admiring how athletes like Montana, David Robinson, and Michael Jordon handled the press, and he can already mimic their measured, bland responses."

    Up until that point, it all sounded good until Rodgers strayed from the bland and delivered the one quote that Packer fans will talk about until training camp:

    "I don't feel I need to sell myself to fans. They need to get on board now, or keep their mouth's shut."

    I am sorry but every media opportunity, AR shouts out to football fans how TT and MM are behind him 1oo %. Bottom line, if TT had hired Randy Moss when Favre asked him to, none of this would be happening. GB would have won a Superbowl, Favre would have seriously retired and the media would have missed out on a golden opportunity.
    Yes, I admit, I am a Favre fanatic; Therefore, I have read every ounce of information possible about Favre and the unfortunate situation. NO, I do not believe Favre is fault proof but, AR thought he could take over the empire Favre built without earning the honors.

    You have first hand experience with Favre, I am envious! You say the men in NY were not fond of him. I can understand the let down at the end of the season but, what about the opportunites he psorvided the young men in the beginning of the season. Did those folks believe they were going to do any better under Chad? I read multiple articles last year about the elation in the NY Jets locker room over having Favre with the team.

    I also get frustrated when over and over people talk about the interception that elimintaed the Pack from one of the greatest Superbowls ever!!! Pack fans are forgetting one very important element about that was a playoff game...and if things keep going the way they have been in GB, it may very well be their last play off game for years to come.

    BTW, How about the last time the Pack beat Tampa...when Favre had a broken thumb. I guess that injury is not as severe to a QB as a sore toe.

    In closing, I could have related to AR if he had been honorable in the transition and kept his mouth shut. Favre has stated repeatedly he made multiple mistakes when he was young, so I will cut AR a little slack. From an outsiders perspective,I just do not see the same reception from the players with AR as I do with Favre.


BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.