Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe referred to his team's long pursuit of Brett Favre as the "Favre-a-palooza."
All the hoopla, mystery and angst ended Tuesday, however, when the Vikings learned Favre won't be joining the team.
After three months of buildup that seemed destined to end with the future Hall of Fame quarterback in purple, Favre called Vikings coach Brad Childress and told him he would remain retired. The call came a day before the Vikings report to training camp in Mankato, and three days before the team's first practice.
The decision could be a blow to a team considered a Super Bowl contender with Favre, who holds every significant NFL passing record. His presence also would have guaranteed sellouts for a franchise that has struggled to sell tickets in recent seasons.
The Vikings will return to their original plan of having Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels compete to be the starting quarterback.
"We have to throw this out the window," Shiancoe said. "At least the circus is [over]. We can have peace of mind. We've been put through the wringer. But it is what it is. We're going to move on and be a Super Bowl team regardless."
Favre, who played for the New York Jets last season after spending 16 seasons in Green Bay, told ESPN this "was the hardest decision I've ever made. I didn't feel like physically I could play at a level that was acceptable."
Childress seemed unfazed by Favre's decision.
"I just think it was a rare opportunity to explore [acquiring] a Hall of Fame quarterback who had background in the NFC and in this division," Childress said. "He knows our system inside out. ... This doesn't change anything about how I feel about our football team."
There was little doubt the Vikings were intrigued by the potential of Favre playing for them, and Favre definitely had interest in spending at least one season in Minnesota. The two sides flirted last summer after Favre decided he had prematurely decided to retire in March 2008. The Packers didn't want Favre back, but weren't about to allow him to play for their archrival.
Favre eventually was traded to the Jets after a bitter divorce, and spent one season in New York before again retiring last February because a partially torn biceps in his throwing arm caused him discomfort late in the season. The possibility of Favre playing for the Vikings -- and being able to go against the Packers twice a season -- became a reality April 28 when he was released from the Jets' reserve/retired list.
The Vikings made it clear throughout the process that the decision was Favre's, and it became obvious he was serious in late May when he underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair the tendon. There were numerous reports and rumors that indicated Favre would land in the Twin Cities, including word that a one-year, $10 million contract had been completed and information that Favre would live in a condominium in Edina.
Favre spent the past several weeks throwing to receivers at a high school in Hattiesburg, Miss. This month Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who was Favre's position coach in Green Bay for three seasons, and head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman traveled to Mississippi to visit Favre.
Although his arm appeared to be fine, Favre told ESPN he experienced soreness in both ankles and his left knee during his private workouts. That caused him to doubt whether he could make it through the rigors of a 16-game season. Missing games didn't seem to be an option for Favre, who will turn 40 on Oct. 10. He has started 269 consecutive games, putting him 13 behind former Viking Jim Marshall for the longest streak (by a non-punter) in NFL history.
"I had to be careful not to commit for the wrong reasons," Favre told ESPN. "[Vikings officials and players] were telling me, 'You went through all this, you had the surgery and you've got to finish it off.' But I have legitimate reasons for my decision. I'm 39 with a lot of sacks to my name."
Favre told the Vikings last week that he was going to stay retired, but the team tried to get him to reconsider. A handful of key players sent text messages encouraging him to come to Minnesota.
One of them was Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen, who as much as anything wanted resolution to the situation before training camp opened.
"I don't know whose decision it was to get it done before training camp, but I appreciate it," Allen said. "Now, let's go play some football. We're too good of a team to let a distraction be an excuse for not getting a job done. We're not thinking about what-ifs. We're all professionals. We didn't sit around and say, 'The only way we're going to have a good team is if we get Brett Favre.' No, we know we have a good team. No harm, no foul. Let's go."
With Favre, however, there is never a complete conclusion. The NFL Network's Steve Mariucci, who was an assistant on the Packers coaching staff in the 1990s and remains close to Favre, reported Favre will continue throwing and working out.
The Vikings, coming off a 10-6 season and an NFC North championship in 2008, are expected to move forward with Jackson and Rosenfels. Rosenfels, a nine-year veteran who was acquired in a trade with the Houston Texans last February, said Tuesday he's just looking forward to getting a chance.
"I think the whole thing was through a rare circumstance," he said. "A Hall of Fame player becoming available, I understand what the organization was trying to do. But we're sort of back to where we were when I came here. That's to compete with Tarvaris for the starting job and to get ready. I'm excited for training camp as I would have been any other situation and I can't wait to get there."