Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell was on the Packers coaching staff from 2000 to '05 and got to see Brett Favre put on many of his great performances up close.
But one of the things Bevell will remember most about the retiring quarterback didn't happen on the football field. Rather, it was the speech Favre made to the team California after his father died in December 2003; Favre had decided to play the next night, a Monday night game against the Oakland Raiders.
"And not just because of the game that he played, but all the events that lead up to it with the grieving that he was going through. And coming down that night and talking to the team and then going out and playing that game in honor of his dad, that was unbelievable," said Bevell, who served as quarterbacks coach during part of his time with the Packers.
Bevell was in the room that day when Favre spoke to the team following Irv Favre's death in Mississippi.
"Never forget it. Then one of the things he said was, 'Don't play this game for me.' But as you saw by watching the game, what happened was there wasn't one guy on the field that didn't take their game to a whole 'nother level. The whole team rallied around him and every guy played phenomenal, as well as him."
Favre passed for 399 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-7 Green Bay victory.
Bevell said the announcement that Favre was going to retire came as a surprise because the great quarterback had been talking about retiring for some eight years.
"I mean when I was there, almost every year I was there they were speculating whether it was his last, and for eight years it wasn't. So, I think that's why it's such a big surprise," Bevell said.
While a lot of people -- including me -- believe Favre will change his mind and play another year, Bevell said he believes this decision is final.
"Doesn't mean somebody can't change their mind, but ... I don't have a crystal ball, but I don't think that's happening," he said.
Bevell is 38, only two months younger than Favre. When Bevell was playing quarterback at Wisconsin in the 1990s, Favre was already an NFL star. The two got to know each other when they posed together for the cover of a Wisconsin State Journal football preview section in 1995.
"He's a great person, that's what you like about him. I think he's a guy's guy," Bevell said. "He's a funny character, he's got a lot of charisma to him, a lot of enthusiasm, and that carries over to the field. So I think people can see a little bit of themselves in him which makes him that much more likeable."
Grant: Favre the best
Bud Grant never coached against Favre, but he ranked Packers star as the best of the quarterbacks he has watched.
"A lot of the time, all the measurements are what you won in terms of championships or whatnot. But that doesn't mean that Dan Marino wasn't a great quarterback, he didn't win any championships," Grant said. "John Elway didn't win any until he got to the end, but he was a great quarterback all the time in between.
"Favre, I think, was probably the best quarterback I've ever seen, just watching him. Now, I didn't coach against him, but just watching him, I think he goes down as the best. I mean, it goes back to my old theory that he played every game, he had durability. I think that equates to greatness.
"I've never stood next to him and seen him throw the ball, but he apparently has great velocity," Grant said. "Everybody talks about how when you see him, he can really throw the ball well. But I think it was his demeanor on the field. He had great field presence, you always felt that he could do the impossible, which he did many times, as did Elway, as did Marino."
Grant said his absence will be felt not only by the Packers but by the entire league. "He was worth the price of admission," Grant said. "I really enjoyed watching him play."
One good thing about Favre retiring: The Vikings won't have to face him again.
Cornell, which became the first men's basketball team to qualify for this year's NCAA tournament when it won the Ivy League regular-season title Saturday, is led in scoring by Ryan Wittman, who averages 15.3 points per game. The 6-6 sophomore guard/forward is a former Eden Prairie standout and the son of Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman. Cornell last won the Ivy League title in 1988; since then, Penn and Princeton had won every championship until this year.
The Indianapolis Colts have tendered a contract of $927,000 to former Gophers tight end Ben Utecht. He is a restricted free agent and the Colts have the right to match any offer made to him. The Bengals and Jets also are interested in Utecht; the Cincinnati Enquirer reported he is scheduled to visit Cincinnati today. "I don't believe the Colts have the money to match if I get a better offer," said Utecht, who is behind Dallas Clark on the Colts depth chart and could figure to land a multiyear contract somewhere else. ... Meanwhile, Utecht's big interest in the offseason is Christian music. He recently cut his first CD and plans to travel around the country as a Christian singer. Last year, Utecht sang the national anthem at a Wild game. ... Former Gophers receiver Logan Payne has signed a multiyear contract for $290,000 per year with the Seahawks, according to his agent, Chris Murray. Payne spent last season on the Seahawks practice squad but was on the active roster for their two playoff games, though he didn't dress for either one. ... Murray said ex-Gophers kicker Rhys Lloyd, who played two games for Baltimore and one for Carolina last season, signed a two-year contract with the Panthers at $370,000 per year. ... Another former Gophers player who is a Murray client is receiver Aaron Hosack, who now is playing for Colorado of the Arena League.
Cretin-Derham Hall had two great quarterbacks on its sophomore team this past year in J.D. Pride Jr., son of the former Gophers football player, and Mark Alt. Raiders varsity assistant head coach Andy Bischoff said he wouldn't be surprised to see Pride transferred to another school so he would get a chance to play more. Alt, son of former Kansas City Chiefs player John Alt, also plays hockey, so he is not as likely to transfer. However, because Pride and Seantrel Henderson, the standout Raiders lineman, are very close friends, it's possible that Henderson, already being recruited by colleges all over the country, might transfer with Pride.
The Gophers men's track team has added six members to its 2008 freshman class: Peter Gagnon of Minneapolis Washburn, Kevin Lachowitzer of Perham, Andy Richardson of Irondale, Nick Hutton of Apple Valley, Micah Hegerle of Kasson-Mantorville and Sean King of Cretin-Derham Hall.