MANKATO — Let's recap the timeline of the Vikings' Quarterback Quest, bringing you right up to the moment, at which time the Vikings are lobbying the Legislature for funding of a light-rail line that will stretch from Eden Prairie to Hattiesburg:
The Vikings chase Brett Favre all summer the way a dog chases an electric rabbit. Favre does the dance of the seven veils, then disappears like the island in "Lost."
The Vikings, embarrassed like the geeky teenage boy who gets dismissed by the homecoming queen, rule out further pursuit of the Hall of Fame quarterback and express their affection for their current quarterbacks, otherwise known in the organization as "The Tall Guy With the Funny Name" and "The Shorter Guy With The Funny Name."
Training camp starts. On Friday, Day 1, Sage Rosenfels' passes wobble so much that Bud Grant emerges from a nearby duck blind to blast them out of the sky. On Saturday, Day 2, Tarvaris Jackson winds up writhing on the ground with a sprained knee, with Brad Childress standing over him. Today, on Day 3, John David Booty might want to make sure he has all of his leprosy shots up to date, or his arm will wind up in the third row of the new bleachers constructed specifically to handle the Favre overflow.
Just in case you thought the Brett Favre Saga had a chance of ending any time in the next five years, the first three practices of Vikings training camp reminded everyone that this is a good team without a trustworthy quarterback, and that no matter how much he doth protest, Favre, like a crazy ex-girlfriend, remains one phone call and one more emotional flip-flop away.
Favre's failure to launch has left Vikings camp feeling like a high school intrasquad scrimmage. The crowds are quiet, and the new bleachers are empty as a politician's promise. It's like watching the E Street Band without Springsteen.
What we have here is a beautiful courtship between a team that knows down deep that it needs a better quarterback, and a Hall of Fame quarterback who knows his competitive appetite can't be sated by huntin', fishin' and golfin'.
Not long after Favre called Vikings coach Brad Childress to say he can't commit to playing this season, Favre told Sports Illustrated's Peter King that ... he could still play this season.
It's probably insulting to say that Favre flip-flops. What he does is execute beautiful reverse 3 1/2 somersaults, always with a twist. He's the Greg Louganis of indecisiveness.
Jackson's injury isn't catastrophic, just remindful. Jackson got hurt in 2006, got hurt three times in 2007, then got hurt again last preseason. Between injuries and benchings, he has played just enough to tease but not often or well enough to comfort.
Not to be an alarmist, but Rosenfels' first three practices were alarming. He's a big, strong, athletic-looking guy, but his passes couldn't get pulled over for speeding in a school zone.
"If T-Jack is hurt," said linebacker E.J. Henderson, "then it's time for JDB to step up."
JDB is John David Booty, the erstwhile third-string quarterback who as of Saturday night was suddenly getting more practice snaps. For the time being, he's the backup quarterback on a defending division champion.
After Jackson went down, Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell held his regular briefing and argued that he and the Vikings never "pleaded" for Favre to sign.
"It was a word that was misrepresented," Bevell said. "Obviously, we were actively recruiting him because he was a free agent. ... We put on our best face and tell them the most positive things about your team and your state, about every position on your team whether it's offense or defense.
"There was no groveling involved, on our hands and knees."
In this case, with these quarterbacks, it's never too late to start.
Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon on AM-1500 KSTP. • firstname.lastname@example.org