WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 18, 2010
Q: What led to your decision to come back and how hard was it?
A: It was very tough, obviously. I could make a case for both playing and not playing. Ultimately, so much has been made about the three guys coming down; it was about them, the team. When I left New Orleans a big part of me was, I don’t want to say done, the fact that we lost that game, how hard it is. It’s hard to make people understand. I’ve played 19 years and was fortunate enough in 1996 to be on a winning Super Bowl team. I was fairly young at the time, and you just kind of think, ‘Oh, what’s the big deal? We’ll be back, there’s always next year.’ The toll that it takes, and people always talk about the physical toll in that particular game. The mental toll is what’s hard to deal with. This team is a very good football team. The chances here are much greater than other places, and there are a lot of places that can say they have a legitimate chance. This is one of those teams, and from that standpoint it has always made it easier. Answering the bell again, my wife says I always look at things negatively, more than I should, but the ‘what ifs’, can I answer the bell and what happens if, and I’d love to win the Super Bowl, but what happens if I don’t. That was the tough part. Physically, it’s hard to believe that I can say this every year, but I can’t complain. There’s nothing on me that’s 100 percent. There wasn’t anything on me that was 100 percent last year or the year before. The surgeries I think have made me a little better, but I’ve played  straight games, I can’t complain.
Q: Where is the ankle at physically?
A: Everyone wants to think that the Saints game forced me to have surgery. I needed surgery three years ago on my ankle. It’s a chronic ankle. I had a visit with Dr. Andrews last Thursday, a follow-up visit that we had talked about at the time of the surgery. We did a new X-ray, and surprisingly there a new spur had surfaced in the X-ray. Not as big as what he had taken out, but in that short amount of time it was really surprising. There is a little pain there, and we thought it was more just scar tissue and things, and that may be part of it, but the fact is it’s just something you just have to deal with. There is a little bit more range of motion now since the surgery, but we’re not talking about a lot. What I was hoping to resolve, was every day after practice the soreness that’s there. I’m not going to move it very much; it’s just kind of stuck. Every time you sprain an ankle, mine tends to sprain a little bit easier than it did earlier in my career for obvious reasons. There’s been three surgeries on my ankle and all of them were relatively the same type of surgery; clean-out the joints base and try to provide a little mobility, the bone on bone that you get from moving around and stuff. Every day walking, no problem. People say, ‘You look like you’re fine.’ Walking is fine. Playing football is probably not the healthiest thing to do for your joints and things like that. All in all, it is a little better.
Q: Will you play on Sunday?
A: I would like to. I took a lot of reps today, much like last year. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not real excited about getting hit any time soon, but that is part of it. I got drilled the third play of the game last year, the first preseason game against Kansas City. It may have been the hardest hit I took all year. I think there’s no substitute for calling plays in the huddle in a real game environment, and the only way I’m going to get the speed of the game down is being in games, and being in some of the situations like we had today, blitz periods, goods against goods, the reaction times. My arm feels great, but to think that it’s ready for the first game, that’s going to take a little bit of time. I’m not really concerned about that; the reaction time, get over the initial soreness any quarterback tends to have as you’re going, the soreness that you get in your shoulder a little bit. In general, get that out of the way, if it’s anything like last year, after this week. To me, it’s just getting familiar with the guys again. For you guys that watched practice today, I stepped right in. I didn’t feel like it was midseason form, just from a reaction standpoint, but I thought it went rather smoothly. All the plays were familiar to me. It’s getting those guys coming after you, seeing blitzes, all that stuff that you have to do with split-second timing.
Q: Given the way that you played last year, how hard would it have been to walk away?
A: That’s kind of the argument. Once again, I can make a case for both. Never in my wildest dreams when we sat here last year would I have thought I would play the way I did. Look at the 18 years previous; I never played that good. The good Lord has blessed me with a lot of talent and ability, and even when I lacked in confidence last year going into the season, I continued to get better and better with each week. I was even amazed. To think that I could surpass this year, I don’t need to. As well as I played, by far the best I’ve played in my career, it wasn’t enough. And that just goes to show you all phases have to be hitting at the right time. I need to play well obviously. I need to be a great leader. All of the intangible things I thought would be more important last year than the statistics at the end of the year. I would have never thought it. Part of me said, it was such a great year, it would be easy to say, ‘I can’t play any better. Why even try.’ The other part is, ‘Guy’s are playing on a high level, why don’t I go back out? Everything for the most part seems to be fine. He’s got a good football team around him.’ And that’s true. The expectations are high here, as they should be. From my standpoint, I can’t make any guarantees, never would. I’m just going to do everything I can to help this football team. I spoke with the guys this morning. I think they know I’m sincere and honest. Whatever it takes for us to win. The bottom line is winning. I’m not here to set any records. People say, ‘You can do this, you can do this.’ I’ve done it all. There’s nothing left to prove. I’m here to have fun and help these guys win. I really enjoy this group of guys like you wouldn’t believe, I think the feeling is mutual. Once again, it’s really about these guys. They were joking at the start of practice, ‘Look at all the people here.’ It’s about these guys. It really is. From the outside looking in you may think differently. They know I’ve got their back. And I think they’ve got mine too.
Q: Where did the pain in your ankle rank in your decision to come back?
A: It ranked high…I’m not a doctor. For me, conditions that I’ve had, the shoulder, the best example is with the Jets. I had a torn bicep that continued to get a little worse with each week. I was able to play through it, but at what level? Now I didn’t know going into that season that I had a torn bicep, and it continued to get worse as the season progressed, but now I’m in it. You can’t back out at that point. Before you get into it, that’s the issue that I had. ‘Can I do it? Sure. What’s going to happen the second week?’ Yeah, I can move. I’m not going to break any 40 records, but I still feel that my footwork in the pocket is as good as any. Being able to throw from really awkward positions in the pocket, being able to move around, I really feel like I’m an advocate for moving around a little bit more. Arguably one of the best running backs in football, if I fake it to him one way then roll out the other way, I think somebody’s going to be open. It’s going to buy us a little time. And I think I can do that. That was the question I had to ask myself. Do I just think I can do it, and physically can’t? That’s a major question, and only one that I could answer. I can’t promise you that I’m going to make it through the season, I couldn’t promise you that when I was 21. For people to say, ‘When December rolls around, he’s going to be struggling.’ They were saying that last year. Come December, I played my best football. Will that be the case this year? I have no idea, no idea. I feel as good as I felt last year, and 10th game of the season I’ll probably tell you I don’t feel as good as that opening press conference. But I would think most guys would feel the same way. It was a question that I answered ‘Yes, I think I can do it.’ I don’t want to come out here and hurt this football team by not playing at a high level. That was a question, ‘Is the ankle bad enough that you’re going to hinder these guys at some point?’ Surgery was the first step in finding out. Everyone said, ‘He’s having surgery; he’s coming back.’ No, I had to have surgery to see. There was a lot of stuff removed, a lot. I’m actually surprised it doesn’t feel better, based on what they took out. Dr. Andrews and Dr. Neilson both said, ‘Don’t expect a [miracle].’ I used the word miracle with my bicep. There was no pain, amazing. I couldn’t throw a spiral the year before. I think deep down inside I was looking for that with the ankle surgery. They said, ‘I don’t know how good it’s going to feel, but don’ t expect a dramatic difference like with your shoulder.’ But ultimately, I’m not going to break any 40 times but I do need to move around. You’re going to have to play with pain. Every guy in that locker room is going to have to play with pain. Do you play with pain and still play at a high level? Are the guys tough, but can’t play. I want to be the guy who is tough, durable, and can play at a high level.
Q: Can you tell us your side of the story when you and
A: I don’t know how well you guys know [Steve] Hutchison, but he’s like talking to a wall. When I say he’s not taking ‘No’ for an answer, it kind of strikes fear in you. I can’t imitate Hutch, but I said, ‘This is going nowhere.’ At one point, I was staking my case, and Jared [Allen] said, ‘I hear everything you’re saying, and I’m with you. I’m a little selfish, and I still, for selfish reasons, would like to have you back.’ And not one of the guys, those three guys came down, but not any one of the guys, I just talked to
Q: When you were in the Jeep, Ryan turned to you, and you said what?
A: I said I’ll do it. I continued, as I have been, I said I can’t make any guarantees. That obviously has been kind of my mantra. I think the way I played last year was great. You are talking about setting the bar high; I didn’t do myself any favors. They said, ‘Hey, don’t worry about it.’ Not only those three guys, but everyone, we’re in this together. If we go down, we go down swinging. If we win it all, we do it together. In six months we’ll find out where we stand, and they can say it was a great fit or they can say the circus that took place was just that, a circus. I can’t worry about what people say and what people think. The only thing that mattered was those guys in the locker room. Because if I didn’t hear one word from those guys, if they turned their back and said, ‘Hey, thanks,’ it would have been a little bit easier. I felt like if they were going to go to those limits and I’m not just talking about making the trip down, but the things that I was hearing this whole offseason from different guys. Sage being one of them, being a quarterback and wanting to play; I talked to him numerous times throughout the offseason and he said ‘I hate to admit it you know, but I had a blast. I felt like a I learned a lot and as much as I want to play, in some ways I would like to see you come back.’ That was early on and I was like ‘Whoa.’ To a certain degree you can understand what I was going through. The team has always been an important thing to me. This is the ultimate team sport. I know I can’t control too many factors. I can only control what I do. I don’t want to fail. I’m being honest. If another guy stands out here and says ‘I’m not worried about failing,’ maybe you believe that. I know a lot is expected of this team and a lot is expected of me. I take that very seriously. I know that there are a lot of factors going into winning and losing. I understand that. I take a lot of pride, especially when these guys are asking to do them one more favor. I don’t know exactly what that means, but I think I do.
Q: What’s it like coming in this year in the preseason, compared to last year?
A: It makes the transition a lot easier. Kevin Rogers the quarterback coach and I talked about that last night and he said ‘You know, a year ago you came in and the only thing you knew was the offense and that makes things easier.’ It’s not only knowing the offense, but how it applies to our guys. We call the same plays here that we did for 17 years. A play that may have been Antonio Freeman’s staple, a slant or whatever. A play that I felt comfortable with and I found over the years that I was comfortable with that play, not so much because of the play, but because of the player. I could call it, but I had to be like, ‘Okay, Bernard is going to run it a little different than this guy. Sidney’s going to run it a little different.’ You learn little things about guys. Sidney, he’s not going to get five yards past a DB. That’s not what he does. He can make you right on a lot of plays. That trust factor had to happen. Percy, I had to learn him. The footwork and handing off to Adrian. I should always be precise, but if not he’s going to run right over you. Learning those things and doing it in a short amount of time. The great thing is we did it on the fly and had a little time the first few weeks. I don’t want to say that’s out of the way, because I think that it’s each and every year it will change a little bit. Sidney is obviously not practicing. Percy is easing back into it. Shiancoe’s shoulder is bothering him a little bit. The guys that are practicing now, they may have to play. Toby, I’m getting to know him. I don’t know how we’re going to approach things from a 3rd down standpoint; the obvious thing is that Toby will step in Chester’s place. I think Albert is a guy that can do that as well. I don’t know. We knew Chester would be our 3rd down back last year. I know I don’t have anything to prove. Last year people wanted to know, how long will he hold up his arm? Can he get it back and all of that stuff? I always wondered that. I think for every player, every year, it’s a new year. You should wonder, can I? One thing I have learned over the years, you can never say, ‘I’ve arrived.’ You should always be on your toes. You should always be looking over your shoulder, especially when you are soon to be 41 (years old), and a new grandfather. Everyone is writing you off. It just seems like, ‘Hey at 40, the guy’s a has-been.’ In saying that, it’s motivation for me. Once again, I don’t feel like I have anything to prove. I’m going to play. I’m going to play at a high level. I would love to play the way I did last year. I would have loved to play like that the previous 18 years. It was pretty good. The most important thing in all of this is wins and losses. I use the example of when I was growing up; I had my first car, when I signed my first contract. Prior to that, I remember in college, saying, ‘Man I would love to have that car.’ You always wanted something other people had. When you are able to get it, it kind of loses its luster a little bit. I have been fortunate enough; I hear guys go, ‘Man, I want to make it to the Pro Bowl.’ I’ve done that. I can’t say I have ever dreamed of being MVP. I won three. Could I ask for anything more? I have been fortunate enough to be on a winning Super Bowl team. I talk to Jim Kelly all the time, Jim’s a good friend of mine and he was like, ‘Hey, bro, I went to four. Never won one. If you can still do it, do it. Do it for me.’ Marino, and as great as he was, never got it. All of those things. I have got all of the good records. I’ve got all of the bad records. Wins. Starts. I did it on a new team; we get to the championship game. I would like to think I made a positive impact on these guys. There is nothing left to prove. I’m going to have fun. I can promise you this, not that I have ever set out as a goal to play 20 years; 20 years and I’m done. This is the last year of my contract. I’m sure a lot of people are like ‘Yes!’ including my family. ‘We love watching you play but we can’t take the agony.’ It was obviously a tough decision to come back. I can’t say that I’m going to do anything different than I did last year. Preparation. Effort. Leadership. I’d love to think that I’ll play better. I’m going to do everything I can to help this team win. We’ll see what happens.
Q: Do you think people will believe you, that this will be your last year?
A: Probably not. Probably not. I do believe it now. I got to fall apart some time. I’d like to go out on top. “The top” is different to a lot of people. Most of the people think if you go out on top, it has to be a Super Bowl or an MVP. There’s no doubt, that when I left last year, I went out on top. There’s no doubt, that when I left after the Jet’s year, I went out on top. Would I have hoped the season would have ended up differently? Sure. One year, no matter how great, no matter how disappointing, will define you. I think my career speaks for itself. I really do. I could not be more proud or more satisfied with the way I played last year. Once again, there was something that said, ‘You know you were so close, and it was with these guys and these guys would like to say the same thing to you. Let’s do this thing together and let’s finish this together. Who knows what’s going to happen to anybody after this year. With the lockout and all of that stuff. This team may get dismantled. It’s just the nature of the game. I’ll just give it one more try. When you leave, hold your head high. Regardless of how it ends, it’s going to be on top. I’m very thankful for the career I’ve had and for this opportunity and for the way these guys have kind of taken me under their wing. This city and this state. I know it’s about winning. And we won a lot of games last year and that makes it a little bit easier to say, ‘Hey, we want you back.’ I really felt like what we had this last year was special and it’s worth giving it one more try.
Q: What was in the bucket you were carrying yesterday?
A: What was in the bucket? Metamucil. Grecian. Calcium. All my essential vitamins. No, it was actually protein powder.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 18, 2010
Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress
Just a word about yesterday, a lot of moving parts in things like this and I shouldn’t have put Murph (Brian Murphy, Special Teams Coordinator) and Bev (Darrell Bevell, Offensive Coordinator) in front of you guys (media) and have them cross their fingers behind their backs and talk to you guys. I apologize for that and again I apologize to them for doing that. Just a couple things about the why’s, obviously Brett (Favre) was a huge part of what we were able to accomplish last year. I think that goes without saying. We wanted him back. It wasn’t me wanting him back; it was we wanting him back. I talked to all those guys all along that had been texting and talking and I believe as my conversations went with him that probably the best thing was for those guys (Longwell, Hutchinson, Allen) to see him face-to-face. It’s kind of like any relationship, you can only get so much done over the phone. Texting doesn’t really create the emotions but they wanted to get face-to-face. At that point in time we thought that was the right thing to do. I talked to Zygi (Wilf) and Zygi was all in, which is great to have an owner like that. He said, ‘Do we feel like this needs to happen?’ I said it does and so they were happy to jump on a plane and miss a day of practice. I had some reservations about letting them go. They went after (Monday) practice but I was afraid of when they came back they might have come back by way of Bolivia or somewhere like that with Zygi’s jet. I think he (Brett) said it all in terms of how those guys felt and they got to see where he is at. I always thought the toughest part was getting him out of the driveway of that house and getting out here with us. As he told our team this morning, really nothing to prove but he’s here for one reason and one reason only. You can say we are pushing it all to the middle of the table, that’s how we feel every year. Any team in the National Football League that doesn’t start by saying we want to go to the Super Bowl and win it, there is something wrong. Some people can make that statement and are probably whistling in the dark. We feel like we have a good football team and we got to be able to back it up and that is why we play them (games). I just feel like he simply came back for the members of this football team. I’ve been able to talk to Sage (Rosenfels) and Tarvaris (Jackson) and I will tell you what I told you last year, those guys are disappointed surely. Tarvaris has had a great training camp. Sage obviously played very well the other night. They’ve got a good relationship with this guy too and we will just see how it goes forward.
Q: At what point did you deem it necessary to send three players down?
A: Did I deem it necessary? We talked a couple days ago after practice and I kind of told them where I thought it was at. We can do all the talking we wanted to do. They were all in from the beginning; it wasn’t like a recruiting match. Should we go or do you think we should go? We all kind of had a conversation with him and then we acted. At least he said to somebody, he thought that I was going to come walking into the door. Those guys could say a thousand things over the phone but it is one thing to feel their physical presence there. The way it was described to me, when those guys came back and sat in my office was; it was good cop, bad cop, and funny cop. I will let you put on who those guys were: voice of reason, voice of hammer, and some levity in the group. Those guys may have a future down the road as a team.
Q: From your communications with Brett did you sense that he would say no if you didn’t send the guys down?
A: I don’t know. That would be conjecture. Obviously, everybody thought it was important enough to get those guys involved. It’s kind of like Bus (Cook) says, if you play the lottery and won it a few times, won a couple of bucks but no one thinks you can win it if you don’t have a ticket. Just thought those guys might as well go down there.
Q: How much of a priority was it for you to get a resolution during the visit?
A: I think you have heard Jared’s comments from last week and I know he had those comments but I know that he also spoke to Brett after those comments. I talked to him after he left the locker room of the St. Louis game. We talked a little further about that. It was definitely time and again with Brett trying to be fair to our football team, knew it was time one way or another.
Q: What are your expectations from a performance standpoint for Brett?
A: It’s an interesting question. He said, ‘Brad, it’s taken me 19 years to play like that.’ I said, ‘Well (shoot) maybe you finally got it.’ The other thing I told him was as long as we don’t go 7 touchdowns and 33 interceptions I think we will be alright. I think the sky is the limit. Everybody has always got to play around the quarterback. He’s got a good football team around him and he won’t have to do it all himself.
Q: Do you think he will play Sunday night?
A: I don’t know. We will see how he comes back. We kind of eased him in a little bit with a few other things. He’s going to want to look at the different things that we have done in the offseason and the different guys that are running those plays. Knowing him, at least when he got on the plane he started with Hutch (
Q: Do you feel that those guys were needed to go down and visit?
A: I didn’t get him to come back with me when I was there the last time. It wasn’t my intention. We still had 10 days before camp. I just felt like he knew all the reasons. He knew how I felt; he knew how our owners felt. You play the game for your teammates. Those are the best teams that I have been around. You talk about people that leave this game and the thing they miss the most is the camaraderie in the locker room. They don’t miss the meetings, they don’t miss the grinds, they don’t miss two-a-days, they don’t miss the work. They miss the guys, and just the day-to-day goings on of a football locker room. I don’t expect anybody to completely understand it. That is what really rang out.
Q: When did you get the final word that Brett was coming back?
A: I got a couple different ones. There were a couple of false alarms. They communicated to me when they were at the airport. I think Hutch said, if my recollection serves from what they said yesterday, how about Ryan goes with Deanna and Brett will come with us. It felt like they were federal marshals with a guy on each side of him getting into the car. Hutch and Jared rode with him out to the airport.
Q: Why did you send Jared, Steve, and Ryan?
A: There are other guys that text back and forth with him but those were guys that talked to me about talking to him at different times. Not that he doesn’t talk to Pat (Williams) or
Q: Have you ever been around a guy who has integrated himself so well in the locker room?
A: I think that is a definition of a leader. Somebody that people want to play for, and play well for. Just at the time he came back yesterday sitting in our cafeteria the buzz was palpable. It elevates everybody in the building. That is what a franchise quarterback does.
Q: How confident are you that you can protect him during the course of the season?
A: Well you know what, he knows that there is somewhere that he is going to get knocked on his butt; that’s going to happen. As long as we are doing it within the spirit of the rules, he is all good with it and I’m all good with it. In terms of not doing it that way, hey everybody talks about hitting the quarterback. Let’s just hit him the right way
Q: Do you feel that he was unfairly punished in that game?
A: In my opinion, yeah.
Q: What is your opinion on Brett’s contract situation?
A: Just like everybody else’s contract, I am not speaking on that.
Q: Do you feel like you had to do something to get him to the return?
A: I didn’t feel like the team had to do anything. Again, we have a great owner and I will leave it at that to those going on.
Q: Steve Hutchinson said that it was either a “do or die mission” to bring Brett back. Were you ready if he was not to return and move on with Sage or Tarvaris?
A: Absolutely. I had that conversation with Tarvaris this morning. It’s hard on that guy but he is prepared; he is ready to go. And you know what, there are no articles, we don’t know if he has to play a game, a quarter, or a half. Four games, six games, or no games, we don’t know that. But he has come miles in his four years. He has had by all indicators a good training camp and obviously Sage had a very good first game, so yeah we were prepared to do that.
Q: Do you envision Brett playing this Sunday?
A: It would be a “vision” and I’m not a big vision-guy.
Q: How did you feel Brett looked at practice today?
A: He looked comfortable. Much more comfortable that last year when he really didn’t know all the names, faces, and how we operate. So I thought that he had a pretty good level of comfort.
Q: What does it mean now that this is all resolved?
A: Now you have to play. Now you have to build that chemistry that he talked about. And every year stands on its own and kind of grind this thing out. Finish these preseason practices and games. We aren’t marking time; we have a ton of things that we need to improve on, just based on the other night. And he is a part of that process now. It’s the old, “you’re either part of the problem or part of the solution”. We believe he is a part of the solution.
Q: Does it concern you at all that you had to send players down there to bring him back?
A: No, it doesn’t concern me at all. When the terrain varies, you go with the terrain. And that’s what that took. I can sit in my office and say, “I’m going to talk to him over the telephone.” I just stood back, looked at it, and that’s what you do. I don’t think anybody violated any by-laws of any sort. You look and see what a situation calls for and you do it. Now it may have never been done before, but you do what you need to do, or you feel like you need to do, in a given situation. I thought it was common sense with what needed to happen.
Q: Do you sense that he is 100% committed to play?
A: That’s Brett though. If you have ever come to a press conference, he talks all the way around the block on most subjects. I have talked to him before about deer hunting, which I don’t know anything about—hunting with a rifle, a bow then before you know it, deer meat and then by the end of the conversation he is a vegan. I mean that’s Brett. That’s Brett. And that’s what I love about him.
Q: What does it say that he can joke around with the other quarterbacks? In a lot of other locker rooms that wouldn’t fly.
A: It’s just what makes up the man, he is an affable guy. He has fun playing the game. I don’t think he would come back here if he thought that it would be unbearable. This is a great group of guys. I have said it to a couple of people here this is a hell of a group of guys to work with. They keep you on your toes, but it’s a fun group of guys to go to work with every day.
Q: He said that this was his last year, do you believe that?
A: I do. Yeah, I do.
A: I think it is because he likes even numbers. That’s 20, a nice even 20. I think we have a little labor uncertainty here. I need to give a shout out to Bob Sansevere by the way because we did consult his psychic, his horse psychic that had yesterday as the day, did she not Bob? She did, yes. Yesterday was one of the days she put out there. I kind of laughed with Bob at training camp and said, “Could you imagine us standing right here on this practice field, you and I and we are calling a psychic about the day that Brett Favre might show up here?” But we both had insider information did we not?
Q: What was your thought process on a number three quarterback?
A: Sage and I talked about where he is at, where his “lot in life” is right at this point in time. He told me what his feelings were and in a perfect world what would happen with him and told him that I didn’t have any preconceived notions about anything right now. So I know where he is at, he knows where I am at, and a number three obviously is inactive until you are done with one and two or one and two are knocked out and can’t come back into the game. I mean that’s where he was at this point in time but as we know this is a fluid business and it’s minute to minute.
A: I don’t know that. I don’t know that, I wish I could be clairvoyant about that.