The Minnesota Vikings asked three of Brett Favre's closest friends to find out once and for all if the quarterback wanted to play.
They received their answer Tuesday, when the 40-year-old quarterback boarded a purple-and-gold trimmed plane in Hattiesburg, Miss., and flew with defensive end Jared Allen, guard Steve Hutchinson and kicker Ryan Longwell to the Twin Cities. The Vikings then called a news conference following the team's 12:40 p.m. ET practice Wednesday, presumably to announce Favre's return. That news conference can be seen live on NFL.com and NFL Network at approximately 2:45 p.m. ET.
In an exclusive interview with NFL Network's Rich Eisen, Hutchinson revealed how the three Vikings came home with Favre in tow.
|Vikings QB Brett Favre (above) exits Ryan Longwell's SUV after arriving at team headquarters Tuesday. (Vikings.com/Special to NFL.com)|
According to Hutchinson, the Vikings asked him, Allen and Longwell to visit Favre in Mississippi and either bring him back or wish him well in retirement. The trio arrived at Favre's house too late Monday to have a conversation and stayed overnight on the premises. In the morning, Hutchinson said, Favre took everyone on a tour of his property, then the subject of his possible return or retirement was broached.
"We told him how much all the guys loved playing with him and that we would love to do it again," Hutchinson told Eisen. "We also told him that if he didn't want to do it, then congratulations, you deserve it. You've had an incredible career, but we've got to know one way or another."
Hutchinson said Favre then did most of the talking, leaving the seven-time Pro Bowl guard with the impression that the quarterback had pondered his decision for several weeks, if not months. Over the course of two to three hours, broken up over two chats, Favre told Hutchinson, Allen and Longwell how much he loved playing with them and the other Vikings last season and also raved about the "special bond" they instantly formed.
At that point, according to Hutchinson, Favre matter-of-factly said, "OK, let's do it."
"I wish I had some sort of fairy-tale story about the way it all happened, but it really was not a big moment or anything," Hutchinson said.
According to Hutchinson, everyone -- including Favre's wife, Deanna -- then grabbed their belongings and headed to the airport.
Surprisingly, Hutchinson said Favre spoke little about his surgically repaired left ankle and instead focused more on personal reasons about whether or not to play.
When asked if he believed he and his teammates essentially sealed the deal and pushed Favre into coming back, Hutchinson said: "Not really. I mean, nobody can push Brett into anything. I think it was just the first time that some of his teammates came down to visit him (instead of coaches), and it sort of reiterated to him what he felt about playing with all the guys, and he just figured after going through it one more time, 'Let's do it.'"
After the plane landed in Minnesota, Favre received a ride to Vikings headquarters from Longwell -- last year, when the quarterback joined the team, coach Brad Childress was at the wheel. Longwell's black BMW sport-utility vehicle was followed by three helicopters from local television stations and pulled into the Vikings' facility in Eden Prairie, Minn., as dozens of fans cheered and photographers snapped pictures. At one point, Favre waved to the media and fans.
"Brett Favre for President!!" Vikings wide receiver Bernard Berrian tweeted.
Favre will turn 41 in October and has flirted with retirement for years, while playing for the Green Bay Packers, the New York Jets and now the Vikings. He threw 33 touchdown passes and seven interceptions last season to help Minnesota reach the NFC Championship Game.
The three-time NFL MVP had been thinking about hanging it up again this year after injuring his ankle in the NFC Championship loss to the New Orleans Saints last January. He had surgery on his ankle in June, then reportedly told teammates and some team officials earlier in August that it hadn't healed enough for him to return for a 20th NFL season.
Yet no one in the organization fully bought into that -- partly because they went through a similar ordeal in 2009.
Last year, Favre told the Vikings on the eve of training camp that he would stay retired, only to return the Tuesday after their first preseason game. The Vikings played their first preseason game of 2010, a 28-7 victory over the St. Louis Rams, on Saturday.
Favre proved last year that he didn't need all that extra sweating in training camp, delivering one of his finest seasons and leading the Vikings to the brink of the Super Bowl. He took a beating at the Superdome, yet threw for 310 yards and one TD. But he also threw two interceptions, the last one in Saints territory at the end of regulation to cost the team a chance a game-winning field-goal attempt.
How much Favre will be paid this season also has come into question.
As of the close of the business day Tuesday, a league source told NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora that there hasn't been any change to Favre's contract, which is scheduled to pay him $13 million in the last year of a two-year deal with the Vikings. That does not mean it couldn't change at some point.
On Wednesday, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported, also citing NFL sources, that the Vikings are willing to increase Favre's base salary to $16.5 million this season and are willing to include an extra $3.5 million worth of incentives into the deal, bringing the total to $20 million.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.