EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) Brett Favre is back on the field with the Vikings.
The three-time MVP started his second season in Minnesota on Wednesday, wearing a helmet, shoulder pads and red quarterback’s jersey as he worked out with his teammates on their practice field.
After staying away from training camp, Favre was practicing less than 24 hours after the teams sent three of his closest friends to Mississippi to bring him back following another summer of indecision. The Vikings said Favre planned hold a news conference after practice.
Steve Hutchinson, Jared Allen and Ryan Longwell were dispatched to Favre’s home in Hattiesburg to convince the 40-year-old quarterback to return. He was contemplating retirement yet again because of a surgically repaired left ankle that was hurt in the NFC title game.
Favre’s return to the field came on the one-year anniversary of the day he signed a two-year, $25 million contract with the Vikings.
In a scene nearly identical to his arrival last August, Favre took a private plane from Hattiesburg on Tuesday, 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 after he tormented Minnesota for so long as a member of the Packers.
This time around, virtually everyone expected the quarterback who flirts with quitting every summer to return for a 20th NFL season.
Favre’s latest dalliance centered on 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 year the Vikings have dealt with questions about Favre, so they weren’t convinced he was done.
Now it’s time to see if the old man can do it all again.
The gray-haired Favre turned in one of the best seasons in a terrific career last year, throwing 33 touchdowns and only seven interceptions to lead the Vikings to the NFC North title. He passed for 310 yards and a touchdown against the Saints in the Superdome, but also threw an interception 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 being cajoled by Allen, Hutchinson and Longwell, Favre will have one more shot at redemption and a second Lombardi Trophy.
Even though it was expected that he would be back, the same excitement as last year 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 unretiring 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.
One good omen for the Vikings in 2010: Favre ran – slowly – without a limp on Wednesday.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)