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Brett Favre struggling to justify return to Vikings

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Neil Reynolds | 11:10 UK time, Thursday, 14 October 2010

I was fortunate enough to interview Denver Broncos Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway last week and you can hear our chat on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra this Sunday.

I don't want to spoil the interview for our listeners, but I will just say that we talked about Brett Favre and his constant flirting with retirement from the NFL in recent years.

Of course, it was easy for Elway to walk away from the game after back-to-back Super Bowl wins guaranteed him the ultimate 'go out on top' scenario after the 1998 season.

Favre did not have that luxury after throwing the costly interception in the 2009 NFC Championship Game which ended the Minnesota Vikings' chances of playing in last year's Super Bowl.

Vikings quarterback Brett Favre

Brett Favre has had a very difficult season so far as he struggles with injuries and a scandal surrounding his person life.

If he had retired this summer, Favre would have needed to find a way to live with the knowledge that his final meaningful pass in the NFL was a costly and painful error that hurt his team. But at least it would have come at the end of an outstanding season in which Favre threw for 4,202 yards, 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.

It's hard to imagine Favre and the Vikings going anywhere near as deep into the playoffs this season following their 1-3 start.

And the only active grandfather in the NFL, who turned 41 this month, is probably beginning to wish he had retired for good during this past off-season.

While there was so much that was magical about Favre's 2009 campaign, that couldn't be further from being the situation in 2010. And it's starting to look like a case of this being a season too far.

For a start, Favre's body is beginning to break down. He came in nursing an ankle injury that limited his mobility and he has taken a real beaten in the opening four games of the season.

He also has a pain in the elbow on his throwing arm that simply won't go away, and Favre said on Wednesday that his cherished, league-record streak of 289 straight starts might come to an end this weekend if the pain does not subside.

Favre has not been helped by his offensive line this season. They have hung him out to dry far too often and the problems with that unit have been exacerbated by Favre's inability to scramble given that he has been given a right good kicking by Old Father Time.

The younger and more athletic Tarvaris Jackson would offer greater scrambling ability but his passing skills have a long way to go before you would compare him to Favre.

But Favre has looked out of sorts in that area as well. He couldn't move all that much in 2009 but he could always be relied upon to be in synch with his receivers and get the ball accurately downfield.

Part of the problem has been Favre not getting as much practice time with the weapons he formed such a lethal attack with last term. Sidney Rice has been sidelined with a serious hip injury and Percy Harvin has been on and off the practice field for several months due to ongoing migraine issues.

Rice has been sorely missed by Favre and it has been reported that the star quarterback would not have been tempted out of retirement if he had known he was going to spend half a season without his favourite target.

Favre's mood will have been lifted by the trade for Randy Moss, who remains one of the premier deep threats in the NFL today. But that short feeling of elation will have been severely tempered by allegations regarding Favre's private life that emerged late last week.

Tony Romo and Brett Favre

Tony Romo's Cowboys and Brett Favre's Vikings meet this weekend on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra with both teams under huge pressure. Photo: Getty Images

According to reports published on the internet, Favre texted inappropriate messages and images to Jenn Sterger, a game hostess for the New York Jets in 2008.

As if he didn't have enough professional worries, Favre now has to cope with this very public delving into his private life. And he is also being investigated by no-nonsense NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who has made good conduct by his players something of a personal mission during his tenure.

If Favre is deemed to have misbehaved to a point where he has embarrassed the NFL and brought the game into disrepute, Goodell will act, although given the player's previously clean record, the punishment could come in the form of a warning rather than a suspension.

Either way, it is a distraction the 1-3 Vikings and their faltering quarterback could do without. This is a time when they should be 100% focused on salvaging a season threatening to disappear down the drain.

Instead, they are dealing with the personal issues of a quarterback who, finally after all these years of drama and comebacks, must be wishing he had stayed retired for good.

Week six on 5 live sports extra

What an intriguing game we have in store from 2100 BST on Sunday as the Dallas Cowboys visit Favre's Vikings. Both clubs met in the divisional round of playoffs last year but they have opened 2010 with identical 1-3 records and neither looks like making a similar run in this post-season.

That means the loser of this game is going to be in serious trouble. I have spent enough time talking about the Vikings but the Cowboys have also been massive disappointments this term.

They rack up considerable chunks of yardage but have constantly shot themselves in foot with penalties and turnovers. And they lack offensive balance. Tony Romo has formed a good aerial partnership with Miles Austin and the in-form Roy Williams, but where is the ground game featuring Felix Jones and Marion Barber? It has been missing for much of the campaign, mainly due to both backs not being given enough touches of the ball.

This one is really close to call and I could make a case for both teams to win it. I just think the Cowboys have a little more talent across the board, so I will go with them. But I wouldn't put money on that!


  • Comment number 1.

    Good blog Neil,

    I do not, however, believe the Cowboys have "a little more talent" across the board! Miles Austin is a elite reciever, but then so is Randy Moss. Roy Williams has started well, but is still... Roy Williams. Percy Harvin one of the best up ad comers, and is becoming a Wes Welker type of reciever. Tight ends are comparable, Shancoe has stepped up his game the past couple of seasons. Dallas cut a former pro bowler from their line last week and you can bet the vikings front 4 will man handle the back up!

    The Vikes defense is one of the best units in the league, you only have to watch the new york game to realise that.

    QB is my only concern, with the myriad of problems favre is going through as you point out. I do believe however that the home advantage will play in our favour, Randy Moss fever is going to be massive, and always has a chip on his shoulder when playing the cowboys for passing over him in the 98 draft.

    With not as much fanfare as Joe Namath, I gurantee a Vikings victory.

  • Comment number 2.

    The doom and gloom around the Vikes might not last long, would certainly fancy them for a home win this Sunday.

    I guess I go back to why Favre was originally signed last year - Childress saw it that the Vikes needed a QB who could present a legitimate passing threat, but the offense would still revolve around Adrian Peterson. That's why Favre made sense, even if his level would probably not be what it was at Green Bay.

    Obviously, it didn't quite turn out that way... and Favre had an amazing season. The mistake was to believe Favre could do this again, when really, they should have been reverting to Plan A. No defense is going to gamble that Favre has lost the ability to hit his receivers, let alone a receiver like Randy Moss, and the Vikes still have a stiff defense to back up whatever's happening on the other side of the ball.

    It's on Childress to get Favre playing a higher percentage game, and if the Vikes can win a couple they will get some of the good vibes back, who knows where this ends. Neither the Bears nor Packers look to be much better than 10-6 teams, and no-one will fancy facing an AP led offense in the post-season. But it needs to be AP led, good things will follow if it is.

    Of all the stuttering pre-season favourites, the Vikes don't look far from being a serious contenders.

  • Comment number 3.

    Ol' Brett likes to cry wolf from time to time, it's an in built defence mechanism to deflect criticism should it ever arise down the road but Dangle-gate 2008 is without question proving to be a most undesirable distraction for the team.
    While every team has to contend with a bye week; it either comes at a good time in the schedule or a bad time - for the Vikings the timing of the bye week did them no favors at all.
    I don't doubt for one minute that his elbow hurts, but I am equally sure that if you took a straw poll of any locker room, for any team sport, you will have the majority of players experiencing an ache or pain, of some sort or other, at this point in a season.
    During the game, certainly some passes went astray early on but I tend to have more of a concern over the decision making; just like against the Saints, some of the throw choices being made at important times were apalling; receivers wide-open yet he throws into double coverage - I ask you! But there were also encouraging signs; the first deep ball to Moss earlier in the game should have been caught but for a clear pass interference that was not given and Favre's touch-down pass to Moss in the second-half was absolutely spot on and he sure scrambled fast enough to get into the end zone to congratulate Moss on the catch.
    Viking team performances so far have been more than a little poor and the first half against the Jets was nothing short of abysmal, but in the second half the Vikings moved the ball around in the wet very well and really could of and should of won the game - poor decisions again cost them - how could Favre not see that Tahi was wide open when going for two?
    I expect the Vikings to get the proverbial together this Sunday and I can definitely see them turning Green Bay over - all is not lost, yet.

  • Comment number 4.

    Cue Brett Favre......I'd back him to turn it around. He's on the verge of having a Super Bowl team if he can find his receivers and get Rice back. He's never been the best quarterback but he's certainly been amongst the best.

    The Cowboys on the other hand will hopefully go from bad to worse. I'd understand their focus on the passing game if they had Peyton Manning or Drew Brees, but Tony Romo is average.

  • Comment number 5.

    I´m not sure about the definition of Randy Moss as "premier deep threat" or "elite receiver". I think he was 2 or 3 years ago but now ? Is he better than Hakeem Nicks ? Or is it that we older guys get excited when someone who´s clearly no longer a spring chicken has success, as in during the slightly hysterical Favre-will-win-the-super-bowl-wearing-dentures campaign of the last season ?


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