Here’s the transcript from Brett Favre‘s introductory presser with the Minnesota Vikings this evening. (What’s up with Brett’s cap? It looked like he had been dragging it around behind his farm tractor.) I thought he was as genuine and honest as ever. And despite people’s negative opinions regarding what Brett’s got left in his proverbial tank, I believe the Vikings just upgraded the most important position on their team. It’s going to be a very interesting season in the NFC North.
Q: What was the offseason like and the process of getting ready?
A: Obviously, first and foremost, I knew if I was to play, I would have surgery. I was kind of iffy on the surgery (and) finally decided to have it. Dr. Andrews said it would be roughly six weeks. He was right, it was roughly six weeks. Although at times I felt really well, other times not quite as well. I guess, what I went through last year with the torn bicep, going into the season not knowing, or feeling fine, the season as it progressed, my arm got worse and worse. I wanted to make sure if I was to play I wouldn’t go through that again. I really felt like I did everything I could possibly do to get where I wanted to be. I didn’t feel like at times it was where I needed to be. Maybe subconsciously, as Coach Childress had said, “You need to cross over that line, take that chance. At 39 years old your arm may not feel like it did at 21, but the pieces are in place here that you won’t have to do as much.” I totally agree with that, three weeks ago, what has changed, one of the reasons I said no, I found out after the surgery that I still had a tear in my rotator cuff. When I heard that news after the surgery I thought, “Oh boy. I have a torn rotator cuff.” I was still having a little bit of pain. I had an MRI in May or June after the surgery and that showed I had this torn rotator cuff. Talking with Dr. Andrews, he said, “Well, it was actually there before the surgery. Had I actually fixed that, you wouldn’t be playing this year and you may not play next year, because that is a pretty serious surgery. It looks like you have played with it for quite a while.” That scared me, being a quarterback or pitcher at 39, just coming off of surgery for something totally different. I was reluctant, would be an understatement. I just kept thinking, “I don’t want to go through what I went through last year.” When Brad called yesterday I was on my way up to a high school, to help out with some kids. We had a good conversation. I hadn’t talked to him in three weeks. He said, “I want to give it another shot and see if you would take the chance?” Between three weeks ago when I said no and the conversation we had yesterday, I had talked to Dr. Andrews, and was reassured that it wouldn’t be an issue, although I thought it was over and done with. It kind of gave me another chance yesterday. I felt like if they were willing to take that chance, I was too.
Q: What were the magic words that allowed you to come back?
A: I was reassured, not from Brad Childress but from the doctors here, that there are no guarantees. Hopefully its not an issue but you never know. My arm has felt, I shouldn’t say 100 percent, but pretty good. It’s good enough for me to feel confident about making the throws I need to make. Once I knew that was okay and was fortunate enough to get the call from Chilly yesterday. I said, as a lot of friends and family have told me, you won’t know unless you take the chance. Everyone who I’ve talked to; former players, coaches, and just people in general said, if you wanted to go back this is a perfect fit. It really is. Once again there’s no guarantee but we have a really good football team here with a very good running game and I hope from my standpoint, I felt like I could offer some experience and leadership. I have to admit, through this whole process, after I said no three weeks ago, at times I was okay with it but at other times I felt like I could really help that team and I think that’s the competitive fire in me. As a player, regardless of sport, you have to feel like you can make a difference. I truly feel like I can so I just didn’t want to look back. I have no idea how I will feel a year from now, five years from now, 10 years from now. But I didn’t want to say, “What if?”
Q: With your history of rivalry, what was it like putting on the Vikings helmet for the first time?
A: It was different. I’m not going to lie to you, as it was different in New York last year. Sixteen years played in Green Bay were great years and that was home to me. There were some great games against this organization. Some we won, some we lost. I think in time it will feel great. The bottom line is that it’s football. Once people start chasing you and once you step into the huddle, I don’t look at the helmets, I look at the faces. I think the guys will know I’m in it for the right reasons. That’s because I still love to play. Regardless of who it’s with, I still feel like I can help this team or whichever team was willing to take a chance. I know there are people out there taking sides or whatever. This is not about revenge, believe me. You can’t take away the 16 years I had in Green Bay, it was unbelievable and it was great. That will be forever cherished by me and the guys I played with. They’ve moved on and I’ve moved on so I think it’s great for football. I can’t see how you wouldn’t think it would be.
Q: Were you thinking about reaching out to Brad Childress or was it mostly him?
A: Believe me, at times I felt I hope I didn’t make the wrong decision but I knew I had to live with it. When Brad called yesterday I was kind of like, this is it, it’s now or never. Jokingly as we were talking, I said can I play Friday? It was early in the conversation and he responded, “You want to play? Let me talk to our owners.” Another thing I forgot to mention was that when I said no earlier to Coach Childress and Coach Frasier, my 10-year old daughter who was neutral in this whole deal. So I asked her, “What do you want to do daddy to do?” She said, “Whatever you want to do daddy.” I said, “That’s a good answer but what do you want me to do?” She wouldn’t say until after the news broke and she started crying as we sat on our back porch. Anybody who has children, I can be chased by five defensive linemen and that doesn’t scare me but when my daughter cries it softens me up. She said, “I wanted you to go back and win one more Super Bowl.” I said, “Ugh. Why didn’t you tell me that before? She said I didn’t want to make that decision for you.” It’s amazing what you learn from your children. She said, “Can you go back?” I said, “Too late.” I found myself tearing up this morning as I brought her to school, and she said, ”Daddy, it’s going to be fine. You go up there and do what you got to do. We will be up there soon enough.” I think I made the right decision, I really do, but time will tell. All I can say is I’m going to do the best I can. I told Brad that, and Mark Wilf and Zygi Wilf on the plane ride up that I can only give you my best, and we will see what happens.
Q: What is your reaction to people who are tired of you wavering?
A: Don’t watch. Like my old roommate and center for a long time, Frank Winters in Green Bay, who’s from Hoboken, New Jersey, and has a funny way of putting things (said), “Dude, its America. You know, it happens all the time.” It is what it is.
Q: Will this year define your legacy?
A: First of all, when people start talking about my legacy, it’s mine. It’s what I think of it. I know the way I play the game. I know the way I handled myself as a teammate, as a leader, within the public. Yeah, I’ve made mistakes along the way, we all have. But if I had to do it all over again, I would do it the same way. I don’t think anyone has played the game with as much passion and has loved it, and loved his teammates as much as me. I haven’t always been the best player. I would like to think that every player that I have played with would love to have me in the foxhole. I have no idea what is going to happen this year. I didn’t know last year. As I look back, I gave it everything I could give. That’s what I’ll do this year.
Q: Packer fans reaction?
A: I think if you’re a true Packers fan, you understand. Will it be different? Sure it will. Is it odd the way it’s unfolded? Absolutely. If you’re a true fan, you say, “You know what? He chose to continue playing. They chose to go in a different direction. It’s part of the business. He has to play somewhere if he wants play.” Once again, this is a perfect fit.
Q: Are you playing Friday?
A: Coach Childress is still consulting with owners. He said he would get back with me about Friday.
Q: Would you be comfortable playing Friday?
A: I think I am. Obviously, I’m behind the eight ball a little bit. I don’t think it smart to play a half. Just to go out and run a few plays, whatever those may be. Just to kind of get your feet wet. As much as I’ve played in my career, there still is a difference from year to year. For me today in practice, the key was just the little things. Making sure you get the snap, calling the play correctly and coming here made a lot of sense because the system is something that I’m very used to. Calling the plays today was easy. Adrian’s (Peterson) steps are a little bit different than what I’m used to. The running plays are the same. Maybe the guys run the routes a little different. What I need to get accomplished in this is understanding my guys, how they run their routes, footwork and things like that. The line getting used to my cadence, you get those things in practice but there is no substitute for game situations.
Q: How long have you had the rotator cuff calcification?
A: He wasn’t for sure and I’m not a doctor, but I don’t know how you would know that for sure. What I gathered from him is that the calcification said that it had been there for quite a while. My question for him was, the bicep pain, from the end of the surgery was pretty much gone, and I said to him, “Could the bicep pain over shadowed subtle rotator cuff pain? He said, “Maybe, but I think you would have known prior to that if it was really bothering you.”
Q: What kind of reception did you get from Vikings players? Did you say anything to Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels?
A: It has been a little bit of a whirlwind, pretty much went right into practice. A lot of faces I recognize; a lot of faces I didn’t recognize. As Brad and I talked about before I came in, even though I have played for a long time and have been around, played against a lot of guys with a lot of coaches, you still have to earn respect from this team. What you have done in the past is great, but it means nothing here. I like to play and carry myself a certain way. I feel like you don’t do that the first day, second day; I don’t know when that happens. You pick your spots. You earn respect with these guys and that is what I intend to do. I spoke with Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels and John David Booty a little bit today, not much, we were working. I am open any time anyone wants to ask a question or talk to me. Jokingly, Coach Childress asked me after practice, “Traditionally here we have the new guys say their name and where they are from and something unique about yourself.” I said, “I am Brett from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I am the only one on this team born in the ‘60s.” That kind of broke the ice a little bit, but the guys have been great. The reception I got, I haven’t been followed by a helicopter in a while.
Q: What will it be like not having to worry about being the focal point of an offense?
A: I think as a QB, you kind of go as the team goes, and what you are asked to do. You never know. I have heard that this whole offseason, “You don’t have to do much; we have a great running game.” We all know that, but there will always come a time when you need to make plays. you have to do certain things that you may not have to do on a consistent basis. I would be the first to admit, I don’t think I am capable to make some of the plays I used to make. My mind might tell me I can, but I don’t know physically if I can do that. Understanding my limitations, how it pertains to what we are trying to do is all a part of this process. All I want to do is win; that is all I came back for. There is nothing like it. For guys who have played this game and sports in general, former players, guys in latter part of their career, they will tell you, “It’s tough.” There is no substitute for playing on Sundays. You can’t find that. That is what I am here for. I don’t know what I am going to be asked to do but I know one thing in particular and that is, be a leader. Do things a certain way. I know I can do that.
Q: Why do you think the perception continues to exist that this is revenge?
A: You guys obviously would be better suited to answer that. I think the circumstances of how it all went down. As I have said before, I think both sides were wrong to a certain degree, but I have no ill feelings towards that. That stage in my career I wish I could have done differently, both sides. I’ve got a lot of friends on that team. A lot of those guys we have had a lot of great games together. Once again you can’t take that away. I don’t think I have to prove anything to anyone, in fact, I know I don’t. What I have done is down in the books. I could easily play those guys and beat them twice and lose the division. They could win. If it was about revenge, I would have signed on the dotted line the first day. I would have worried about the arm later but it wasn’t about that. People can believe what they want and that’s fine. I’m in it for the right reasons and if people can’t understand that, that’s fine.
Q: What do you think will make this a good season?
A: My expectations are high and this team is a good football team. I didn’t come here to lose. I don’t think any guy in that locker room is here to lose. I think we can be as good as we want to be. From the outside looking in or the inside looking in, this team is a good football team. They really are and I think the sky is the limit. We all know how hard it is. It’s even hard for the teams that won the Super Bowl last year to stay good on a consistent basis. It’s a small window. Once again, I think this team can be as good as they want to be.
Q: Will it be easier for you to adjust to this system than it was with the New York Jets?
A: Much easier. I still have to learn the guys but it was so much easier today because of all the plays I was familiar with. Those guys in New York last year were great. They were conforming the offense to where it was comfortable for me, but it was still difficult. Where as here there’s little subtle changes in offense that may take some time but for the most part the formations and protections are the same. Today I didn’t miss a beat calling those plays. I didn’t run many plays but it came out pretty easy.
Q: What did it take to get you number 4?
A: I have no idea. I don’t know what Brad Childress did but John Booty is a southern boy too so he must’ve talked him into it somehow.