Favre immediately making his presence felt in Minnesota


MINNEAPOLIS - There was no introduction of Brett Favre when the Vikings took the field en route to their 17-13 preseason victory against the visiting Chiefs on Friday night. It was about the only thing that was downplayed about his arrival, other than the actual way the news of his arrival was delivered to coaches Tuesday.

As Minnesota's staffers were prepping for the morning practice, coach Brad Childress went through the play script, what schemes and situations they would try to emphasize and the review personnel groupings. After coaches closed their playbooks and were about finished packing their belongings, Childress uttered.

"Oh yeah, No. 4 will be here at 11."

Perplexed, the coaches asked Childress to clarify himself.

"No. 4 is going to be here at 11 and he's going to practice this afternoon if he passes the physical and signs his contract."

The message became much more clear but after all the yo-yoing the franchise had been through with Favre this summer, no one bought in 100 percent until they spoke to him when he was actually on Zygi Wilf's, the team's owner, private plane traveling from Hattiesburg, Miss. to Minneapolis. It was finally happening.

No. 4 was there around 11 a.m. CT and at practice that day.

In two days of work, he showed why Childress' pursuit of Favre was so relentless. He drilled passes in tight seams, looked off defenders and took command of an offense he knew of, schematically, but hadn't run with the high schoolers he'd been zipping passes to with his surgically repaired right arm.

Quarterbacks Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson were hurt by Favre's arrival, but after seeing how the three-time MVP seized an opportunity in two days that they hadn't captured all offseason, players and coaches realized that Favre gave them the best shot at getting to the Super Bowl. Though players said the right things in support of Jackson and Rosenfels before Favre's arrival, they were unabashedly thrilled with the veteran's arrival.

"Leadership," is what Favre provides, which was missing, tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said.

That is what Childress felt was needed to fill out a stacked roster that features the game's best running back (Adrian Peterson) and a dominant defense that regains its stud middle linebacker (E.J. Henderson), who missed 12 games with a foot injury last season.

Favre's "debut" in a Vikings purple uniform didn't go well. The accuracy he showed in practice was nowhere to be found against Kansas City. His only completion came on a four-yard bullet that rookie Percy Harvin had to dig off the turf a yard short of a first down.

Fans clearly expected more as they booed Jackson when he replaced Favre after two ineffective series. It actually might not have been Jackson they booed. The boos might have been because it wasn't Favre.

It appeared that at least a third of those wearing Vikings jerseys/T-shirts at the sold out Metrodome were sporting No. 4. They came to see Favre after all. Preseason games are usually a tough sell, but the novelty/curiosity of seeing their potential savior was too enticing.

For 16 seasons, Favre was the most hated visitor in Minnesota. He played for the Packers and he helped suppress the Vikings' playoff hopes multiple times. Favre was back generating boos, but for a teammate. It was almost as peculiar as seeing him wearing a Vikings uniform.

"It felt a little odd after so many years of being on the other side," Favre said. "I know in the long run I'll be judged on wins and losses. I am well aware of that."

What must Packers fans be feeling? Knowing that Favre is playing for a hated rival is one thing. To see him in purple and gold and donning a horned helmet must cut to the quick -- or maybe even through the bone.

If they watched Favre's inauspicious debut closely, though, his misplaced accuracy and all his shortcomings weren't much to soothe any wounds. He'll improve in time.

"We've been doing this all of training camp, of course, not with Brett, but having him in there, he'll be able to adjust to [the offense] easily," Peterson said. "He's been playing this same offense for (16) years so it's little things that we've added, different formations, things like that. The next two weeks we'll smooth those things out and be ready for the regular season."

What was more noteworthy was that first-year Kansas City coach Todd Haley and defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast showed no mercy. Second preseason game. Whatever. They are trying to get better, too, and if it can come at Favre's expense on this night, so be it. The Chiefs came after Favre play after play. Hard-charging outside linebacker Tamba Hali took Favre down on his first pass attempt -- an inaccurate intermediate-range pass to fullback Naufahu Tahi.

On third-and-nine from Minnesota's 24 on Favre's second series, Pendergast dialed up a full-scale assault up the middle of the offensive line. Favre didn't have a chance as linebacker Corey Mays got in his face before he could say, "Ease up. I'm almost 40."

Childress saw enough and knew it was time to get Favre out of the game. Two series was one more than pre-game projections and a third might not have allowed Favre to get to a fourth -- this week or next.

So Favre took a position he rarely does, on the sideline, helmet off and a khaki-colored baseball hat covering his thinning, gray hair. His faded red baseball cap clashed with his new uni. He watched intently, sometimes by himself, but mostly with one-time possible starter now afterthought Rosenfels at his side. Rosenfels was still nursing an ankle injury and didn't play.

That allowed Jackson extended action and an opportunity to prove he can play and that he wasn't going to sulk to No. 3 on the depth chart or off the roster. Vikings coaches are watching Jackson and Rosenfels closely, but especially Jackson, 26, who they once had unyielding faith in but aren't so sure about anymore.

Jackson, despite hearing those boos, did nothing to fuel speculation that he might cave because of his demotion. After his slow start, he moved the offense -- a mixture of first and second units -- and completed all nine of his passes in the second quarter. He finished 12 of 15 for 202 yards and two touchdowns.

"Being the situation I went through last year, getting benched (in favor of Gus Frerotte), kind of prepared me for something like this," Jackson said. "I did what I had to do. It was good to come out here and play well."

He routinely bought time in the pocket because of his mobility, especially on the 13-yard touchdown pass to Shiancoe in the second quarter.

Said Shiancoe: "I think this is the best thing that could have happened for T-Jack, to sit back and make sense of things and really watch a Hall of Famer."

Favre's reaction to Jackson's first touchdown -- Jackson threw a go-ahead 64-yard pass to Darius Reynaud in the third quarter -- was interesting. After Jackson ran down to congratulate Shiancoe in the end zone, he meandered back to the bench through teammates, who took turns hugging and high-fiving him.

Favre, standing near the 50-yard line, slowly made his way to Jackson. He grabbed him in a congratulatory manner, said a few words and they each moved on.

"He said, 'Good job. You did what you had to do.'" Jackson said, as to what Favre told him.

Never was it more clear that No. 4 had arrived in Minnesota.



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