Brett Favre jogged onto the Metrodome turf Friday night wearing purple, looking as odd as Prince in plaid.
The Vikings jersey looked wrong on him, as if it had been photo-shopped. ''It was surreal, seeing him in that,'' said receiver Bobby Wade. ''It was an awesome experience, though.''
Favre's debut wasn't. He took seven official snaps in two series, throwing three incompletions, and wedging a short pass in to Percy Harvin.
He received a standing ovation, then went 1-for-4, completing one more pass than each of the people in the stands wearing their brand-new No. 4 jerseys. One guy wore a purple T-shirt and taped ''Favre 4'' onto the back.
''It's a lot different than in the past,'' Favre said. ''I was honored. I am honored.''
After his cameo, Favre retired to the sideline. Well, maybe in his case we should choose a different verb.
This being one of those meaningless, overpriced, boring preseason games, Favre's performance proved ceremonial and anticlimactic.
Apparently when he was practicing with Oak Grove High he didn't have to face a blitz. Favre looked rusty and uncomfortable, and took a big hit to the chest on his last pass attempt.
Did he want to play more? ''After that last hit,'' he said, ''I thought I'd wait until next week.''
What Favre brings even during a brief and unproductive performance in an unsightly preseason game is presence.
The Vikings have employed plenty of competent, promising, or accomplished quarterbacks in the last couple of decades.
Daunte Culpepper put together one of the all-time great seasons for an NFL quarterback in 2004. Randall Cunningham reached the NFC title game. Rich Gannon and Brad Johnson apprenticed here on their way to a Super Bowl meeting. Jim McMahon and Warren Moon stopped by.
That's a pretty good list, but none of them, even at their best, commanded the attention Favre does. Even with a convicted dog-fighter joining one of the league's most successful franchises, Favre is the No. 1 story in the NFL, and he has made the Vikings the league's most intriguing team.
Favre also brings certainty to the position for the first time since, oh, 2004, when Culpepper was at his best.
Whatever his faults, Favre gives the Vikings an unquestioned starter, a veteran who won't prompt speculation about his imminent replacement if he has a bad quarter, half or game.
Before the game, there were fans wearing No. 4 jerseys ringing the stadium, waiting for Favre to appear. Inside the Dome, when he jogged onto the field fashionably late --at 6:21 for a 7 p.m. game -- the cheering began.
If you were hoping for something more than the typical boring, meaningless preseason game, you probably were disappointed. Mostly, we spent the night allowing our eyes to adjust to the jarring sight of No. 4 jogging out of the Vikings' tunnel wearing purple.
After the game, Favre stood at the customary starting quarterback locker, wearing a T-shirt and a Vikings cap, drawing double-takes from just about everybody.
''Yeah, it is weird,'' tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said. ''You have Brett Favre in purple. Think about it. Brett Favre in purple.
''He's taller than I thought, too.''
Tackle Bryant McKinnie glanced at Favre and said, ''I'm not going to lie, it's strange. For eight years, he was the enemy, and now he's right over there.''
Favre admitted to being nervous before the game. Late Friday night, he admitted he was happy he didn't fumble a snap or call the wrong play. ''Getting this game over is probably a good thing,'' he said. ''I know we'll be judged later, down the road.''
Three days after coming out of retirement, he also said: ''I know I made the right decision.''
Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon on AM-1500 KSTP. • firstname.lastname@example.org