Vikings arrive at camp without Favre
AP Sports Writer
MANKATO, Minn. (AP) – If Brett Favre returns to Minnesota for a 20th NFL season, it almost certainly won’t be before the Vikings’ 12-day stay in this college town comes to an end.
That seems to be just fine with the rest of the team.
The Vikings started reporting for training camp Thursday evening to begin what is the scourge of life in the NFL – sweating through two-a-day practices in the stifling August heat and humidity. Yet nearly every veteran who was available to the media said they had no problem with Favre skipping training camp like he did last season.
While much of the rest of the country seems to have tired of Favre’s annual waffling, the guys who matter most – his teammates – don’t seem to mind a bit.
“There’s been a lot of talk about players being treated differently,” center John Sullivan said. “Well, guys aren’t the same. Brett’s been playing for 20 years. He’s earned some leeway. We know that if he comes back he’ll be 100 percent committed to the team. We’d love to have him. Everybody knows that.
“I think I speak for most of the guys when I say nobody’s upset Brett is in the situation that he’s in.”
Favre is working out at his home in Hattiesburg, Miss., still rehabbing a surgically repaired ankle that was injured in Minnesota’s overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC title game. He has yet to inform the team if he will honor the second year of his contract and come back for another run at the Super Bowl.
“What year is it for him? Like 20?” defensive tackle Kevin Williams said. “So I think he’s done his share of these things and either way, if he comes back, when he does, as long as he’s ready to go that will be fine with us.”
If Favre returns, all 22 starters will be back for a team that came achingly close to its first Super Bowl appearance since the 1976 season. The Vikings dominated most of the statistical categories in the game. But they committed five turnovers, including an interception by Favre in New Orleans territory at the end of regulation, and left the Superdome feeling like they gave the game away.
The Saints went on to win in overtime before defeating the Colts in the Super Bowl.
“It’s a hell of a group of guys, and always the challenge is that last year will have nothing to do with this year,” coach Brad Childress said.
The Vikings head back to New Orleans to open the NFL regular season on Sept. 6 in a rematch of their January thriller.
“We’ve put the NFC Championship game behind us,” Sullivan said. “I know we have some preseason games but I’m pretty sure everybody’s very aware that’s who we are playing Week 1. But there’s a lot of work to do before we get to that point.”
Even though they are starting training camp without arguably their most important player, they do take comfort in the familiarity of it all. Last year Favre told the Vikings he was not going to play shortly before camp opened. But he changed his mind a few weeks later, and went on to record one of the best seasons of his career despite having less than three weeks to prepare.
Favre threw for over 4,200 yards with 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions to lead the Vikings (12-4) to the NFC North title and their first NFC title game since 2001.
“We all know the situation and there’s going to be some time before we know the outcome of whether or not Brett’s coming back,” Sullivan said. “We’ll go out there and work with the guys we have and for right now those are the guys that we’ll focus on and proceed if one of them is going to be your starting quarterback. Because they’re the ones that are here.
“If that situation changes, we’ll deal with it when the time comes.”
For now, Tarvaris Jackson will take most of the snaps with the starting offense, while Sage Rosenfels and rookie Joe Webb round out the quarterback depth chart. But most expect Favre to show up eventually.
“Nobody cares. … He’s pretty rare that he can miss all of training camp and do all that and come in and light it up,” guard Steve Hutchinson said. “Hopefully if he decides to come back he can do that all over again.”