How important is Favre to the Vikings... really? I personally think the Vikings are a 10-6 to 12-4 team this year, with Sage at the helm. I think we're headed to the playoffs even without Favre.
We're doing a lot of wrangling over whether or not Favre can throw, will his INT rate be too high, will he last through the season, can all the fans get over the old hatreds enough to get behind the team. But there's something that keeps rising in the back of my mind, the bigger, longer lasting impact on the Vikings... the impact that's going to last for years after Favre's gone.
It's something much more important than a better throwing ability that Brett Favre brings to the Vikings' table this year, something that most of them had probably forgotten about or never truely knew. He brings the experience of what's like to have a top-flight QB leading the team, calling the plays (instead of having Daddy Childress call them from the sideline), making the reads and audibling on the line of scrimmage, accepting responsibility when a drive fails, and the sheer authority with which the ball will move from his hands to whomever he's going to entrust with it. That's something that a real leader brings to the table. Whether the ball is entrusted to AP for a run, or it's entrusted to Berrian on a deep slant, the recipient is going to know, understand, feel it in their gut, that something important was just placed in their care, something beyond an inflated pigskin. The ball is just the symbol. They aren't just carrying it out of self-motivation now; the eyes of a 20 year veteran, a future hall of fame leader are on them. Failure will be more than just not making the yardage, more than just dropping a ball. Failure will be returning to the huddle and having to look into Favre's eyes and praying like hell that he'll give them another chance to redeem themselves... because he doesn't have to. He doesn't have to send the ball their way again for the rest of the game. For the rest of the season. He can send them off the field and call for a replacement in mid-drive. That's something that Jackson couldn't do, Sage couldn't do... that's what you get with a QB of Favre's caliber, he's not just ball-tossing proxy for the coach; he's the field general.
When was the last time that the Vikings had someone like that running the offense? Culpepper? Maybe. But I think C-Pep was still too young, was only starting to come into his own when got injured. No, I think we have to go back to Cunningham. And before him, it was Moon.
It's been a decade since the Vikings have been captained on the field by a real leader, and we got NO ONE who knows what that feels like any more.
Well, they're about to learn.
And just as important, they'll have a yardstick by which to measure a real QB by. There won't be any mistaking a half-baked retrofitted tail-back as an NFL caliber QB any time soon in the next few years. Sage may not be happy about not having the #1 position, but will he complain? I don't think so. Everyone on the team will know what's it like to have a real leader on the offense again, even the D will take their cue from him and be able to trust his word, and his ability.
I'm not drinking the Favre-Aid on this post... I think we'd get the same thing with a Warner, or a Garcia. Maybe not as strong with Garcia since he doesn't have the cred behind him, but it would still be there. That old-time leadership that every team in the NFL covets.
This is what we needed; a reminder and an experience, and a proper gauge for the future.