EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) Brett Favre’s latest summer of indecision finally appears to be over.
Favre arrived in Minnesota on Tuesday and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in a Vikings helmet and red quarterback’s jersey when the team takes the field for practice on Wednesday.
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 preseason 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.
“Helicopters acting like they are following O.J.,” tight end Visanthe Shiancoe tweeted. “Where is the bronco.”
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 centered 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 didn’t think he had another full season left in him.
This is the third straight summer the Vikings have dealt with questions about Favre, so they weren’t 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.
The Vikings instead issued a media schedule for Wednesday, announcing that coach Brad Childress will hold his regular news conference following practice. The team also said that a “media availability with QB Brett Favre is to be determined.”
Now it’s 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 Allen, Hutchinson and Longwell, Favre will have one more shot at redemption and a second Lombardi Trophy.
Assuming that Favre hits the practice field on Wednesday, it will mark the one-year anniversary of his arrival to the Vikings, a move that sent shockwaves through the NFL.
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 onto the street.
Last year, Childress picked up Favre from the airport. This year, Longwell was the chauffeur, and fans tried to mob his black BMW SUV as he pulled into the driveway at Winter Park.
“Brett Favre for President!!” receiver Bernard Berrian tweeted.
He’ll have to settle for quarterback for now.
Even though he will turn 41 in October, Favre doesn’t figure to need much time to get warmed up and ready for another season. He skipped all of training camp last year before ending another retirement and joining the Vikings. The three-time MVP delivered a season even he didn’t 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) earned a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs, and Favre became the first 40-year-old QB to win a playoff game with a four-touchdown performance against the Dallas Cowboys.
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