This is the real story on where the negotiations stand between the Vikings and veteran quarterback Brett Favre.

It doesn't come from ESPN or any of the cable networks or all of those speculating on Favre's future.

It comes direct from one of those who is involved in making the decision on whether or not Favre will be with the Vikings in 2009.

Yes, this is it: If Favre is willing to sign a contract with an option that will determine his pay based on how he performs and how much he plays, the Wilf family will go all out to add Favre to the team. The contract will not be guaranteed. It could have some good incentive clauses that will pay Favre well if he can perform like he did in 2007, when he led the Packers to a 13-3 record and was an intercepted pass away from going to the Super Bowl. On the other hand, if he fails to produce, he will get paid for just the time he was with the team. With the economy as poor as it is, the Wilfs aren't going to sign Favre to a guaranteed contract and then find out he can't perform. But they are willing to pay him big money if he can produce.

Once Favre agrees to that option clause in the contract, some coaches will meet the 39-year-old star here or at a mutually decided site, and he will work out to demonstrate to the coaches that his recent shoulder surgery was a success and he is ready to perform in the NFL like he did in the first eight games last year for the Jets until he was injured. Of course, he will have to pass a normal physical.

So the real story is that the decision is in Favre's hands. If he is convinced he can help the Vikings, he no doubt will go for the deal. If not, Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels will battle it out for the starting quarterback position, with John David Booty being a dark-horse candidate if he keeps looking as good as he has in the minicamps.

Nathan the best

Rick Anderson, longtime pitching coach for the Twins, says Joe Nathan has all of the qualities a great closer needs.

"They have to be fearless -- he is fearless if you sit and think about it. Guys are battling their butts off for eight innings and just trying to get to that situation and then he has to come in and finish it off," Anderson said of Nathan, who got saves against Oakland on Tuesday and Wednesday, then against the Cubs on Friday and Saturday. "He doesn't back down from anyone -- he just keeps coming at you night after night."

Anderson added: "You have seen a lot of guys with good arms that have tried to do it, but can't do it because of the mental thing. And you have to be mentally tough, and he is all of that."

Anderson believes Nathan ranks with the great closers in the game.

"I think over the years he has proven he is one of the best closers in the game, since we have had him, so yeah, absolutely," said Anderson. "He has a slider that is 88 to 90 miles per hour and he locates his fastball, he can run it, he sinks it sometimes and throws the curveball in once in a while, so he has three or four pitches that he can throw at anytime, but he has that out pitch, the slider that is devastating.

"We have had times where we have pitched him four days in a row, we said we will give you a day [off], he has said 'no.' He is actually better the more he throws. He takes care of himself, he works hard at everything he does and gets himself physically ready as well as mentally."

Nathan has 15 saves in 17 opportunities this year. Saturday's save against the Cubs at Wrigley Field was his ninth in a row, and he hasn't blown one since May 15 against the Yankees. Since giving up three runs in that game, he hasn't allowed a run in 10 2/3 innings, giving up six hits and one walk in that stretch.

Certainly one of the best moves the Twins made last year was when they signed Nathan to a four-year contract.


While University of Minnesota president Robert Bruininks announced the school plans to cut 1,240 jobs because of budget cuts, Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi said he won't have to cut anybody. "We do have to get permission to hire anybody new in our department, and we recently got permission to hire the additions we will need to operate the new football stadium," he said. While a lot of college athletic departments are having revenue problems, the Gophers will finish in the black again this fiscal year.

Some well-informed people who know what is going on in the NHL say that there is a good chance that ex-Wild coach Jacques Lemaire will end up returning to coach New Jersey because of his great relationship with General Manager Lou Lamoriello, under whom he won a Stanley Cup in 1995. Devils coach Brent Sutter resigned last week. ... A decision on whether Vikings defensive end Kenechi Udeze will play this year probably won't be made until well into training camp. But so far, the former Southern Cal star is doing well following his recovery from leukemia.

More evidence that former Cretin-Derham Hall quarterback John Nance is leaving the Gophers football program is an e-mail from Kelly Scott, father of Joe Scott, the outstanding University of St. Thomas basketball player and MIAC Player of the Year, saying Nance is rooming with the younger Scott and plans to enroll at St. Thomas. ... "Off the Court," a publication of the Gophers basketball program, has some interesting "jottings" on former Gophers players. It reports that Wade Hokenson, who played from 2001-04, was recently named an assistant basketball coach at Western Illinois, where former interim head Gophers coach Jim Molinari struggled the past season with a 9-20 record. Dan Coleman, who played from 2004-08, has a chance to become one of the highest-paid players in Portugal after sparking the AD Vagos team to their league championship. Coleman's former teammate, Lawrence McKenzie, signed with the newly formed Balkan League, where he will play for BC Feni Industries in Macedonia. Another teammate, Spencer Tollackson, will be an analyst for the Big Ten Network after giving up playing basketball in Germany. Tyree Bolden, who played with Hokenson, recently took an academic adviser position with the New Mexico State athletic department, moving from a similar position at Marquette. Brent Lawson, who became an assistant coach for the Gophers in 2006 after going from a walk-on to a senior captain for the team, recently moved to Chicago to begin a career with a trading company, and Jeff Hagen, after playing in developmental league, recently joined Minneapolis Financial Group.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on his Podcast once a week at