The enemy under center

In the impending signing of the enigmatic ex-Packer Brett Favre, the Minnesota Vikings are taking a considerable risk to improve their mediocre quarterback postion in 2009.

Before this issue hits the stands on Friday, one of the most bitter rivalries in professional athletics may escalate to a new level of hatred. Brett Favre, the 39-year old focal point of cheesehead disdain from the Vikings faithful has reportedly met with Minnesota Head Coach Brad Childress earlier this week, and all indications are that upon a physical evaluation, the quarterback may be in mini-camp at the end of the month. While the Vikings’ hand is feeling the push of the domineering forces of father time, I can’t help but to criticize the decision to bring in such a hated rival, though improvement at the quarterback position is necessary.

All through last summer. the talk of the league was the messy divorce between Favre and the Packer organization he had iconicized. The relationship ultimately ended in a stipulation-laden trade with the New York Jets.

Wednesday morning, like the past few mornings, the word on the wire was that the Vikings, unsettled at the position and under the heavy pressure of being “one piece away,” took the initial steps in signing the rival icon: The Judas of Green Bay.
The initial reaction tiptoed on the ridge of the Vikings’ collective gag reflex, but in looking at this roster addition as inevitable, there are highlights to be illustrated—but by no means is this commentary a continuation of the national media’s love-fest with Favre, I assure you.

At the very basic levels, this move has very little financial risk for the Vikings. The addition of Favre—a projected $7 million over the next season or two–would not require any amount of salary cap relief, and would most likely prompt the release of Tavaris Jackson. Favre would be stepping into a situation where his competition consists of a John David Booty, a second-year, mid-level college standout; Jackson, the underachieving pet quarterback of Childress; and Sage Rosenfels, the newly-aquired lifetime back-up that would be nothing more than a band-aid. Not exactly a quarterback controversy.

Aside from the hatred spurned by his days competing within the division, there are legitimate concerns about planting #4 under center. Last season, Favre threw as many touchdowns, as he did interceptions (22) for over 3,000 yards for the non-playoff Jets, in a messy situation from the start. While New York was the toast of the league after a week 14 win over the previously unbeaten Tennessee Titans, Favre’s inconsistencies plunged the team further than the running game and hobbled defense would have otherwise. They finished 9-7, in the middle of a tough division, underachieving enough for grounds to fire Eric Mangini and overhaul their roster.

As much as it pains me to make such a statement in Minnesota, Favre would benefit from the higher level of talent in Minnesota. While his receiving corps are comparable, with Bernard Berrian playing the role of Lavernaneus Coles, by no means did Favre have the explosive and untapped versitility of Percy Harvin, nor the single best player in the league in Adrian Peterson. With the establishment of the running game within the offense, Favre will find an easier time picking apart defenses that load up the box to take on AP, provided he remembers which team he plays for.

This particular Vikings team has only a small window in which to make an honest run toward the Super Bowl. With the losses of veteran assets Matt Birk and Darren Sharper this off-season, Minnesota treads thinly on the line between rebuilding and redemption. Veteran leaders Antoine Winfield, Ben Leber and Pat Williams near the end of their respective contracts, and if the Vikings digress a considerable amount, those individuals will spend their remaining years of contribution elsewhere.

Should the signing of Favre bring pressures too big for the team to handle, or the bloated head of #4 ruin the established tone of the Vikings locker room, the team is looking at finding Childress’ replacement and focusing on implementing Sam Bradford for the 2010 draft. Oppositely, should Darrell Bevell’s familiar offensive look and dominating running game allow Favre to get comfortable quickly and stay that way, the Vikings’ are looking at a season aimed directly at Miami.

Given the current situation, Favre gives them the best chance for the latter, no matter the circumstances of the season.
On the economic front, it is well known that the Vikings were looking at the possibility of having a couple of their games blacked out, and, if nothing else, the electricity that Favre would undoubtedly bring would eliminate that threat.
After his change in uniform last season, Favre’s jersey was the NFL’s top-seller. Favre’s financial upside will make up for paying his salary, and in these economic times, the Wilf family quest for a football stadium in the Twin Cities may ultimately be dictated by the advances for the team’s bottom line.

As for the state of the team, I can’t help but to feel torn in this situation. On one hand, the missing piece could be added to secure the Vikings’ chances at glory with this signing, but I question the flood of Favre on the team and trivializing a championship due to his presence. On the other hand, I have been one of the many advocates for the Vikings to make a big splash at the position, and I could hardly back down on that just because of his affiliation with the Packers.

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