EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Brett Favre unretired again and will wear purple this time. Chew on that, cheeseheads.
"You need to cross over that line. You need to take that chance," Favre said at his introductory news conference Tuesday, recalling the advice that Vikings coach Brad Childress gave him. "At 39 years old, your arm may not feel like it did at 21, but the pieces are in place here where you don't have to do as much."
Favre added: "If they were willing to take that chance, I was, too."
The wait for Favre's decision dragged through May, June and July -- at which point he said he would stay retired. But that was three weeks ago. On Tuesday, it all was resolved in a matter of hours.
Vikings owner Zygi Wilf and president Mark Wilf met Favre in Mississippi with their private plane, Childress picked up the quarterback at the St. Paul airport, and a news helicopter hovered over their route to the team's suburban practice facility in Eden Prairie.
Once the vehicles arrived, hundreds of fans roared when Favre waved as he got out. No less than 90 minutes later, he was on the field in his familiar No. 4 jersey with purple shorts and a purple helmet, a vision that has had Green Bay Packers fans cringing for months.
Favre shook hands with a few of his new Vikings teammates and quickly began throwing, as people peeked through the security fence to catch a glimpse of the stubble-faced superstar.
"I think it's great for football," Favre said. "I can't see how you think it wouldn't be."
On July 28, the man who holds every major NFL career passing record told Childress he wasn't ready to play, citing a lack of confidence in his beat-up body to hold up over an entire season. Favre revealed Tuesday that he was told by Dr. James Andrews, who performed the arthroscopic surgery on his throwing shoulder in May, that he has been playing with a torn rotator cuff for a few years.
Neither Favre nor the Vikings expressed any concern about his health, though, on this whirlwind day. Favre was defiant, actually, when asked about widespread criticism of his flip-flopping.
"Don't watch, you know?" he said, adding: "My legacy, it's mine. It's what I think of it."
Wearing a ratty red baseball cap and a T-shirt, Favre's eyes reddened when he talk about letting his daughter down last month with his decision to stay retired.
"The bottom line is it's football," Favre said. "Once you step into the huddle, I don't look at the helmets. I look at the faces."
Last month, Favre explained his decision by saying he had to be "careful not to commit for the wrong reasons."
"I'm 39 with a lot of sacks to my name," he said.
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Favre has a lot of interceptions to his name, too -- more than any other quarterback in NFL history. The last time Favre appeared in the playoffs -- a bitter loss at Lambeau Field by the Packers to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game following the 2007 season -- he put up one of his worst performances in recent memory.
Now the question becomes how Favre will fit in with a team that's already done with the grind of training camp, not to mention how his health will hold up so soon after he questioned it.
The Vikings got an encouraging performance in their preseason opener last week from quarterback Sage Rosenfels, who has been competing with Tarvaris Jackson for the starting job. But neither of them have been consistently sharp in practice this month.
And neither can compete with Favre's ability or resume. His zinger of an arm and toughness in the pocket are a combination few possess. With an offense he claimed this summer he could operate in his sleep, Favre seems to fit well with Minnesota -- especially given the team's problems finding a reliable quarterback since Childress took over in 2006.
"This is a fluid business, and we were moving ahead, but you always go back and reassess," Childress said, explaining his own reverse in direction.
The coach added: "The guys will learn him. He'll learn them, and we've got a whole month to put this thing together."
To win the conference, and perhaps -- finally -- a Super Bowl, Minnesota will need stability at the sport's most critical position.
A few months after Favre's tearful goodbye news conference in March 2008, the Packers traded him to the Jets after he tried to come back only to learn the Packers were committed to Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. Favre started strong in New York, but he faded down the stretch amid problems with his throwing arm and, with another "I'm done" announcement, headed for his second retirement.
Now, he is back.
"I don't have any problem rooting for one of the greatest quarterbacks ever," said Phil Setala, a 23-year-old from Minneapolis who was at practice proudly wearing a purple No. 4 jersey.
Even the state's governor chimed in about Favre.
"It's going to be good for the team," a giddy Gov. Tim Pawlenty said after a speech. "It's going to be good for the state. It's going to be exciting."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press