Do you hear that? Listen close.
No, it's not the uproar about the world's least surprising suprise, Favrestock 2009, coming from Winter Park. These are more subtle sounds.
It's the sound of Michael Vick joyfully exhaling because the glare of the national spotlight is focusing elsewhere.
It's the sound of Rick Pitino pounding his desk in relief that his embarrassing indiscretions are being pushed to the back burner.
And it's the sound of me sighing in relief that I refrained to write about Favre all summer, even after he "stayed retired". Because I had the feeling that the story wasn't truly over until the Favre stepped on the field in a Minnesota jersey or the Vikings faced the Browns on September 13 without him. Well, if you take a look at the picture on the right (or just turn on a TV or open an internet site within the next 48 hours), you'll notice which one happened.
Brett Favre is officially a Viking. And to be honest with you, even though I've had months to prepare for what happened today, it still doesn't sit well with me.
Before you start wondering how I could possibly not welcome Ye Olde Numeral IV to MInnesota--look, I get it. I know the possible positives of his arrival. Does Favre make the Vikings better? Most likely. (If he actually showed up at the beginning of camp, my answer would have been "of course", but now I'm not so sure.) Will he bring tons of national attention to my favorite team? Without a doubt. Will he bring a ridiculous amount of traffic to this site and more people reading my articles? Duh. Anthony was already interviewed by Minnesota Public Radio today. (Today, Anthony on MPR; tomorrow, maybe Gonzo on the Scott Van Pelt Show?)
These are all nice, but the most important positive impact Favre will make is to Minnesota's bottom line. Remember, the Vikings are always near the top of the "Which Franchise Would Move to LA if the NFL puts a Team There?" list. The NFL may also lose its salary cap soon. If that happens, get ready for the Vikings to reflect the Twins' forced frugality while the Redskins and Cowboys become the Yankees and Red Sox of the league. (Hold on, I'm putting away all sharp objects after that last thought...OK I'm back.) Unless we can milk the Favre Cash Cow for a couple years and add tens of millions of dollars to the Vikings' bank account, that is. If you don't think dollar signs were flashing through Zygi Wilf's head during the entire courtship, you're dumber than the contestants on "I Love Money".
That said, we can't pretend to avoid all the possible negatives either. Not to get all Mark Schlereth on you, but won't Favre be a dividing force in the locker room? I know it has divided the commenters on this site since the beginning of this whole Telenovela (don't tell me you wouldn't watch "La Pasion del Cuatro" on UniVision). Aren't there receivers that were getting used to Sage Rosenfels and are now worried about breaking a finger on a 5-yard overthrown laser from #4? Aren't there guys that feel sorry for Tarvaris because he's been pulled back and forth emotionally more than an only child in a custody hearing? Nobody knows except the Vikings themselves, but I'll tell you this--universally hating Favre was pretty easy for the Vikings and their fans before this offseason.
I know he's well aware of our type of offense, but can he really get up to speed with his new teammates in less than a month? Remember, the first four games of the Vikings season looks like the easiest stretch of 2009. If the Vikings give away a game or two because Brett's still getting used to his new team, we may not have to worry about any game-crippling interceptions in the playoffs, because there may not be any playoffs. The Bears got a strong-armed, controversial QB of their own this offseason. The Packers might not piss away as many close games in this season. The Lions literally can't get any worse than they were. The margin for error in the NFC North will probably be much smaller than it was in 2008. The Vikings cannot afford to "work out the kinks" with their new flip-flopping quarterback that strung the media along just long enough to conveniently miss the hard part of getting ready for the season.
And oh yeah, there's that whole thing that I've spent the vast majority of my life hating this guy with every bone in my body. Back in May after this whole thing started (yes, Brett has successfully held a franchise hostage for the better part of four months yet again), this is what I wrote about how weird it would be for Favre to don the purple:
It's like the Hatfields inviting the head of the McCoy family over for dinner and having him say grace.
It's like the Capulets telling Romeo he should run the family business.
It's like Israel electing a Palestinian President.
It's like Kareem suiting up at center for the '86 Celtics.
It's like George W. Bush taking over the everyday operations at MENSA.
It's like Garfield freely sharing a pan of lasagna with Nermal.
Yes, it still feels that odd to me. The footage on ESPN today of Favre running around with a purple helmet was surreal, disgusting, fascinating, unnerving, and exciting all at once. My dad? Not so much. His response to Favre on the Vikings: "Oh well, it will free up a lot of Sunday afternoons now." I'm fairly certain he's serious.
How will this whole thing turn out? Will I ever become comfortable with The 'Slinger on my team as the year wears on? Will the 40-Year-Old Viking Virgin lead Minnesota to their first Super Bowl title?
Nobody knows. We'll all just have to tune in and see.
Come to think of it, I guess there are only two things we can be certain about when it comes to Favre these days:
- We're all in for a lot of Favre talk in the next 20+ weeks.
- Michael Vick and Rick Pitino should be writing thank you letters and sending flowers very soon.