After devoting two whole pages to re-telling the story of Brett Favre’s Minnesota arrival in Sunday’s paper, and doubling that output with additional content Monday online, you would think I was all out of material.
But when you get a bunch of football guys telling stories from 10 years ago about one of the biggest things that has happened in local sports history, there really isn’t an “off” switch.
So here are a few of my favorite insights and recollections that didn’t make it in the original 5,000 words because they didn’t quite fit:
*Former Vikings coach Brad Childress was in frequent contact with Favre and his people during the spring and summer of 2009 as Favre tried to recover from a biceps tendon injury. As Childress recalls, Favre was told that he would be pain-free and could play if the tendon broke loose by itself.
“I remember (Favre) going and trying to throw a ball as hard as he possibly could against a barn door as many times as he could to see if he could get it to rip loose,” Childress said. “I thought, ‘well that’s a pretty scientific method to do that.’”
Favre ended up getting surgery, which was performed by Dr. James Andrews. Favre’s agent, Bus Cook, made a video of the surgery for Childress.
Said Childress: “Brett had a fear of being put to sleep. So they did it while he was awake and numbed the area, and Bus is videotaping it, and he says ‘Here we are in Dr. Andrews’ office. Brett, anything to tell Coach Childress?’” He goes, “’Yeah, Chilly, we’ve gotta practice in the morning. We’ve gotta practice in the morning. I love that schedule. I talked Mike McCarthy into it. … The guys love to do it, blah blah blah.’ He was on a roll, and I’m like he’s out of his mind. What is he talking about?”
*Former Packers and Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell, one of Favre’s closest friends and his teammate with both of those teams, was part of the group that went to get Favre in Hattiesburg before the 2010 season – a disappointing 6-10 year during which Favre was injured and Childress was fired.
“The streak had ended and (Favre) wasn’t going to meetings that last week because we were out of it,” Longwell said. “It was just him and I in the locker room, and I said, ‘I’m so sorry I brought you back this year. I knew it was wrong from the get-go and you shouldn’t have. I pushed for it, and I have to apologize. I mean everything that could go wrong did go wrong for you and that’s my fault.’
“He said don’t look at it that way. Don’t ever think that way. Without this year, I would not have the perspective I had, and I would have had no closure. So I can’t thank you enough for bringing me back. It spoke to our friendship and authenticity. … I think everything worked out how it was supposed to. Everything kind of happens for a reason.”
*For the first few years after Favre retired (again) in 2010, I was convinced he was still going to come back and play for some contending team that had a QB injury early in a season.
In the e-mail interview I did with Favre for the project, I told him that and added that I have long maintained that I’ll finally believe he’s retired when he turns 50 — which is coming this October. I added: “So you have a few months left. Any juice left in that arm?”
His reply was quite honest, speaking both to his confidence and the unfortunate reality of the NFL.
“Lol,” Favre wrote. “The arm is fine, really, but I don’t need any more hits. I fear what is to come with what I’ve endured already.”