Brett Favre Saga Continues
by Trevor Whenham - 8/18/2009
Call me naive, but I honestly thought that the Brett Favre saga was over. For a while, anyway. I was certain that he would flirt with a comeback again next year, and I even thought that a team or two would try to convince him back six weeks or so into the season if things were going badly, but I really didn't see him ending his retirement after just three weeks. Sure enough, though, I woke up this morning to news that a plane with a Vikings logo on its tail was in Mississippi awaiting Favre to return him to Minnesota for a physical and a contract. This is the latest strange chapter in an incredibly strange saga that seems certain now to never end.
The coverage of this return to action is likely to be at least as crazy as it was last year, and probably more so this time around since he will be playing Green Bay twice. For NFL handicappers this creates a serious headache - how do we deal with the Vikings now that Brad Childress has instantly gone from head coach to ringmaster of a crazy circus? We won't know how this is going to turn out for a couple of months yet, but that doesn't mean we can't speculate. Here are a few quick thoughts on the situation and the betting impact:
Brad Childress couldn't be more desperate - Three weeks ago Childress told us that the Favre saga was over and that he was happy with the two quarterbacks he had in camp. This morning he threw those two quarterbacks under the bus. It would be one thing if the quarterbacks were truly terrible, but both Rosenfels and Jackson have experience and skills, and Rosenfels had looked quite good in the first preseason game. By flip-flopping like he has it isn't a stretch to think that Childress will have real credibility issues with his team. That will especially be the case if Favre doesn't hit the ground running. By doing things like he did Childress not only lied to everyone around him, but he also let one player get out of the drudgery and pain of training camp while the others had to endure it. That won't make Favre or Childress popular.
Bernard Berrian is one happy camper - Berrian is the one most likely to benefit from Favre's arrival and become the quarterback;s top target. I'm not sure what impact that that will have on the team, but it will be significant for Berrian's fantasy value.
Why does the team actually need him? - This is the question that should have been asked all along. The team is built around a run-first offense that passes when it needs to. It also has a defense that is going to be stout - especially against the run. Based on that I don't see why they felt compelled to bring in an expensive upgrade at quarterback in the first place. Neither Rosenfels nor Jackson are anything approaching Favre in his prime, but then neither is Favre. Both players, and especially Rosenfels, could have been exactly what the team needs - competent game managers who don't make a lot of mistakes, and can reliably move the ball. The only way to really justify a divisive move like this is if the upside is so huge that you have to take the risk. I don't see how that is the case at all - Favre is a guy who threw as many interceptions as touchdowns last year, and who self-admittedly doesn't think he can hold up to the physical strain of a whole season.
What changed in the last three weeks? - This is the biggest question that bettors have to ask themselves. Three weeks ago Favre said that he didn't have the desire it took to face another season, that he didn't think he could physically hold up to the grind of a season, and that he was done. Now he is seemingly up to the challenge. We know that Favre can change his mind faster than anyone on the planet, but you still really have to wonder what changed between now and then. What he said when he retired was all true - it was a rare moment of self-awareness for the guy.
The early schedule will be deceptive - The Vikings' first three road games are to Cleveland, Detroit and St. Louis. They would win those games if I was at quarterback. The first home game is San Francisco. The Vikings are almost a lock to start 3-0 if they have their act together at all, and could easily be 4-1 or 5-0 after five games. That won't prove much, but it will have the public whipped into a frenzy. Just think of the headlines - Favre, 5-0, Looks Like He Never Left. Weeks 6 through 8, though, are against Baltimore, then at Pittsburgh and Green Bay. That's when the games get real. Heading into the Baltimore game Favre will almost certainly have a record that overstates his play, but I doubt that the public will compensate for that.
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