As Vikings fans and the team's flagship radio station make their own pleas for Brett Favre to return for another season, the man who might have benefited the most from Favre's arrival in Minnesota also plans to reach out to the quarterback very soon to make his case for why the future Hall of Famer should wear purple again in 2010.
Wide receiver Sidney Rice said on Jim Rome's show on ESPN today that he hasn't called Favre yet but plans to do so in the next couple of weeks. That would be a wise call for Rice to make. After having a forgettable first two seasons with the Vikings -- in part because of injuries -- Rice emerged this season to put together a Pro Bowl year.
Rice finished fourth in the NFL with 1,312 receiving yards, catching a team-leading 83 passes and eight touchdowns. "I'm hoping he's coming back," Rice said. "I haven't talked to him about it. I just want to let him relax and spend time with his family. He said he was going to talk it [over] with his family and things like that. So, I'm going to let him do that, give him his time. But I'm going to be giving him a call pretty soon."
Rice said he would make that call, "before it gets too late." He told Rome that he will definitely mention to Favre that this team has the ability to repeat the success of 2009. "He carried this team a long way," Rice said. "The championship game didn't turn out like we wanted but we really have an opportunity next year."
Rice was interviewed while in South Florida, site of the Super Bowl on Sunday between New Orleans and Indianapolis. The Vikings, of course, lost to the Saints in overtime in the NFC Championship Game and Rice admits it still stings.
"It's still not gone yet," Rice said when asked how long it took to get the defeat out of his system. "It's hard. Those guys worked hard and they earned everything that they've gotten, but it's really hard to sit back and be down here doing all of these events and not seeing my team's name up on the sign."
Rice was the intended receiver on the third-and-15 pass late in the fourth quarter against the Saints that Favre threw across the middle. The ball was intercepted, ending any chance the Vikings had of attempting a last-second, game-winning field goal.
Asked about that pass, Rice said: "I was going across the field and I felt like I was in an open area so I toned it down a little bit. It's a very difficult throw. Throwing across your body, back across the field, while you're running one direction. I really haven't looked at the film, I haven't looked at that play. I will get around to it eventually, though."
Rome then asked Rice about the 12-men in the huddle penalty that came right before Favre's interception. That took the Vikings from third-and-10 at the Saints 33-yard line to third-and-15 at the Saints 38. "That's really sickening, it's tough," Rice said. "I'm not sure exactly what happened. We had 12-men in the huddle and moved back 5 yards. Kind of took us out of field-goal range. That was hard as well."
Rice did make it clear -- as have several of his teammates -- that if Favre wants to return it would be fine if he waits to make a decision. It's a logical conclusion that Favre won't be taking part in the portion of training camp that is held in Mankato next summer.
"I have no problem with him waiting," Rice said. "He waited last year, he took us to a whole nother level. It's really up to those guys in the main office how long we will wait or make this decision. I'm just going to sit back and relax for now."