By: Ian Logue
After a week dealing with all the speculation and drama from the traveling circus that originates in Minnesota, Sunday’s game delivered every bit of hype that we spent the last seven days trying to prepare for.
It had the pregame drama, the in-game drama, and the postgame drama.
It had all the things that go along with any dramatic story where a character tries to overcome adversity, and usually ultimately ends up prevailing in the end. But while this one had excitement and disappointment, unfortunately for Brett Favre – it didn’t have the triumph.
For Favre, he spent the entire week trying to set the scene and build up the storyline. He talked himself up with reporters, reminding them all what a warrior he was while recapping the history of all the injuries his 41-year old body has sustained over the years. In his mind despite all the obstacles he’s faced, no matter what, he told them that he always triumphed – and it sounded like he expected that to be the case Sunday.
“It’s hard to think back that far, but I think I can point to different times in my career when I can think I came back and played with whatever injury and was able to play well enough to help us win and give us a chance to win,” said Favre on Wednesday. “I broke my thumb – I can’t remember what year that was. My first game back was against Minnesota here in the dome, and if you had told me prior to – and still to this day it’s hard to imagine a thrower who has a broken thumb on that hand to be able to function on a high level.”
“My mental state has always been after an injury to give it a try. It would be easy to say, ‘Just can’t do it.’ Once again, so many great things I have accomplished after injuries.”
It sounded like he already had the script written. He’d go out Sunday against all odds and beat Tom Brady and company in their house – and then he’d ride back off to Minnesota – silencing all the doubters and critics. It was the perfect plan.
There was plenty of drama during Sunday’s game, but no triumph for Brett Favre against New England (PHOTO:Icon/SMI)
He even got help from head coach Brad Childress, who added to the hype by making everyone believe there was actually a chance that Favre would not play Sunday. He put on a good show for most of the week in front of the media, but in the end the guy that the fans and media affectionately call “Chilly” out in Minnesota didn’t disappoint. Childress waited until just before game time to reveal that he’d start Favre, which at least surprised the few people who were naïve enough to believe that he wasn’t going to play.
The sad thing is, unlike Childress, Favre has nothing to lose. He’s already had his long, storied career that although it’s gone on longer than it really should have, has already given him enough great moments and memories. Let’s be honest, regardless of how this year goes, it’s not exactly going to have a real long-term effect on him. He doesn’t care – because if he leads the team back to the postseason, or farther, he wins. If they don’t – which is how it looks at this point – he’ll blame the injuries for holding him back and will still believe he “can play at a high level” if he gets another chance next year with either the Vikings or a different team.
Childress on the other hand doesn’t have that luxury. If the Vikings finish poorly, some feel that it could cost him his job. The worst part is, Childress flew to Mississippi at the last minute during training camp to try and woo Favre back despite the fact he strung the Vikings along the entire offseason. Unlike last year they’ve lost some games, so this time the pressure is on. There’s clearly some tension between the two, and Favre’s words on Wednesday didn’t make it sound like things were warm and fuzzy between them prior to Sunday’s match-up against New England.
“I didn’t come here hoping to get along with Brad any more or less than I did last year or whatever,” said Favre. “He’s the head coach; I’m the quarterback. I know what is expected of me. I don’t need him or anyone else to tell me that. My intentions are to do that and help this team win. That doesn’t mean we have to agree all of the time.”
The way the game started, it appeared that he was on his way to doing exactly what he set out to do. In the first half Favre was 11-of-13 for 121 yards with a QB rating of 105.4, and he did a solid job of managing the game while Adrian Peterson took care of things on the ground. Peterson finished the half carrying 18 times for 68-yards and a touchdown, and allowed the Vikings to have the ball for over 19-minutes.
Unfortunately he didn’t plan on how things would go in the second half.
The two teams came out of the locker room knotted at 7-7, and New England managed to build a 21-10 advantage after Devin McCourty picked off Percy Harvin on a play where Harvin couldn’t haul the pass in as he was falling backward, and the ball bounced off of him and into McCourty’s hands. The ball was returned down to the 37-yard line, and New England ended up scoring a touchdown. Two possessions later Favre marched them down the field, and got them all the way down to the 3-yard line before “it” happened.
Favre’s script then took a twist he probably wasn’t expecting after Patriots defensive lineman Myron Pryor hit him on a 3rd and 3 play, striking him in the chest. However on the play Pryor’s helmet slide up and nailed the quarterback in the chin.
It hit him so hard that Favre was left holding his jaw, and was unable to get up – despite his teammates trying to drag him back into the huddle. He ended up needing to be carted off the field, with most believing that he had suffered a broken jaw considering the way he was holding it. Instead we later learned it was just a “laceration” that required some stiches, but the fact he was “woozy” after the play was the reason he didn’t return.
Back-up quarteaback Tavaris Jackson came in finished the job and got them in the endzone, cutting the lead to a one possession game on the 2-point conversion at 21-18. However, that would be the only scoring drive for the Vikings from that point on, as New England would go on to get one more touchdown and chewed up the majority of the remaining minutes while they did it.
After the game a disappointed Favre still gave reporters the same story about the fact despite the setbacks he still felt he played well enough to give them a chance to win.
“I really can’t complain, although I probably should,” Favre told reporters after the game. “I have a broken foot. I have eight stitches in my chin. I’ve had tendinitis in my elbow, but I threw it as well as I have all season.”
Meanwhile, his receiver – Randy Moss – talked more about his old teammates and ex-coach after the game than he did about his quarterback and current locker room bretheren. He marched out to the podium and told the mob who awaited him that the $25,000 fine he received from the league last week for not wanting to talk to the press has caused him to not want to take any further questions for the rest of the year. He told them that he’ll be the one asking the questions going forward, and then went on to talk about how much he “missed the hell” out of his old teammates. As if there wasn’t enough wrong with the Vikings – why not have the dysfunctional Moss stir up a little controversy of his own.
Now Favre claims he’ll be ready to go next week against Arizona, and as the circus heads back to Minnesota, this week’s script will likely be thrown out as he tries to write the one for the coming week. Clearly he’s a guy who will never learn, but the soap opera he’s created may finally only have nine episodes left. The love interest that was Moss appears to be fading, as is the respect from the teammates who probably won’t be impressed about the fact that Favre told reporters he hopes they don’t quit on him.
Needless to say things didn’t work out as planned. There was no triumph, just disappointment for Minnesota fans who at this point have to be wondering what will happen now with their football team. The guy who’s orchestrating it all can talk all he wants about what he’s done in the past – but to them the only thing that matters now is what he does over the rest of the season.
Because unless this one starts to have some happier moments in the not-so-distant futre – he may not have much of a leading role for much longer.
“There’s nothing like competing,’’ said Favre. “But there’s nothing worse than losing.’’
That may be about the only thing at this point Favre and Vikings fans agree on.