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All about team for Favre

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Judd Zulgad
August 19, 2010
— No, it wasn’t about the ankle.

It was about the teammates.


Brett Favre’s return to the Vikings—following more than six months of relative silence—came Wednesday at Winter Park in a long-winded news conference with a central theme.


“I really enjoy this group of guys like you wouldn’t believe, and I think the feeling is mutual,” Favre said. “It’s really all about these guys. They know I’ve got their back, and I think they’ve got mine.”


The grizzled quarterback, indecisive about returning following May surgery on his left ankle, decided to jump on a plane after teammates Jared Allen, Steve Hutchinson and Ryan Longwell flew to Mississippi on Tuesday to recruit him.


And he said the 20th season of his record-setting career would be his final year, conceding people probably won’t believe it.


“There is nothing left to prove,” Favre said. “I’m going to have fun.”


Although the Vikings were one victory from a Super Bowl appearance last season, the players’ appeal to Favre wasn’t based on wins and losses.


“We just conveyed a message from the locker room that everybody truly enjoyed him being on this team, leading this team last year,” Hutchinson said. “It was a fun year. About as much fun as I’ve had in nine years. Everybody would love to have him back.”


So Favre started a familiar routine Wednesday, practicing with the team, then addressing a standing-room only gaggle of media. He somewhat clumsily fumbled a bottle of water, apologized for the miscue and then made up for lost time.


He fielded only 10 questions, but filled 33 minutes with answers.


The camaraderie of a championship-caliber team emerged as the determining factor again and again, and he admitted that he can’t complain about how he feels physically.


“It was obviously a tough decision to come back,” he said. “I can’t say that I’m going to do anything different than I did last year. Preparation. Effort. Leadership. I’d love to think that I’ll play better. I’m going to do everything I can to help this team win. We’ll see what happens.”


Spirits were high at practice as Favre wore a red jersey, meaning he couldn’t be hit. He ran the first-team offense as the Vikings worked out in shoulder pads and shorts, and seems likely to take a few snaps in Sunday night’s preseason game at San Francisco.


“It was great,” veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield. “He brought a lot to the team last year. Leadership, work ethic and he played great. Happy to see him back.


Favre appeared to be glad to be back. Now a grandfather, and sporting a head of gray hair, Favre began one drill by coming up behind fullback Naufahu Tahi and giving him a hard slap on the butt, something the veteran’s teammates became used to last season.


Presumably, they had the same reaction to Favre’s announcement that this would be his last season as media members and even Favre did later in the day. “Did I just say that?” he asked.


Favre, who will turn 41 on Oct. 10, would be retiring for the third time in his career if he walks away again. He quit after 2007, ending his 16-year stay in Green Bay, and then did the same after the next season following a one-year stint with the New York Jets.


Those two retirements were so brief that he didn’t miss a regular-season game—he has started an NFL-record 285 consecutive games—and led to Favre appearing in a national advertising campaign for a department store that made fun of his wavering.


Favre, who is coming off a season in which he led the Vikings to a 12-4 record and threw 33 touchdowns with a career-low seven interceptions, could get his first playing opportunity Sunday night in the Vikings’ preseason game at San Francisco.


He admitted he would like to get into the game—Favre played two series last August in the second preseason game three days after joining the Vikings—but coach Brad Childress said he did not know if he would use the veteran.


Whether Favre plays, and odds are if he wants to he will, there is no doubt now that barring injury he will be the quarterback on Sept. 9.


when the Vikings open the season against New Orleans at the Louisiana Superdome. That’s the same venue where the team’s season came to a heart-breaking end last Jan. 24 with a 31-28 overtime loss to the Saints.


Favre’s interception late in the fourth quarter ended what could have been a game-winning drive for the Vikings. He came out of that loss with a badly bruised thigh, a throbbing ankle and, more importantly, mentally exhausted.


Favre made it clear to anyone who would listen Wednesday that he wasn’t making any promises about success this season but he attempted to do the same thing a year ago and proceeded to put together one of his best performances.


“I think the way I played last year was great,” he said. “You are talking about setting the bar high. I didn’t do myself any favors. They said, ‘Hey, don’t worry about it.’ Not only (the three guys who visited), but everyone. We’re in this together. If we go down, we go down swinging. If we win it all, we do it together. In six months we’ll find out where we stand and they can it was a great fit or they can say the circus that took place was just that, a circus. I can’t worry bout what people say and what people think. The only thing that mattered was those guys in the locker room.”



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