One reason Vikings fans shouldn't give up on Brett Favre putting on a purple uniform this fall is because coach Brad Childress has an inside track on the three-time NFL MVP because of the quarterback's friendship with Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.

Bevell was an assistant coach with the Packers for six years, from 2000 to '05. He began as an offensive assistant and was Favre's quarterback coach from 2003 to '05. The two first met when Bevell was the quarterback at Wisconsin while Favre was early in his career with the Packers (though Bevell is nine months older than Favre).

They are very good friends, and no doubt Favre wanted to come here last year, but the Packers wouldn't allow that to happen and traded him to the Jets instead.

It's not like it was last year, though. The Jets have released Favre, making him a free agent, meaning the Packers can't block his path to the Vikings anymore.

Rest assured, through this whole period, Bevell and Favre have been in contact.

Believe me, Vikings President Mark Wilf wouldn't have acknowledged the team still had interest in the retired Favre the way Wilf did the other day unless he knew that Childress wanted Favre.

Wilf talked about a process the Vikings have to go through with all players, and this process also was to apply to Favre. Well, I don't think so. They don't have to go through Favre's agent to talk to him. Bevell can handle that.

Sure when it comes to the contract, agent Bus Cook will be involved.

But one phone call and Bevell can get Favre to come here for an examination of his shoulder, if Favre decides he wants to play.

Stay tuned. The Favre story won't be off at least until a couple of weeks before training camp opens.

Didn't complain

When the Twins sent down Matt Tolbert to Class AAA Rochester at cutdown time at the end of spring training, the infielder didn't complain.

"I played hard, and I did what I can do in spring training and they just had a lot of great guys on the team, great players; once you get to this level, that's just how it is. I was still playing," he said. "I still had a shot; bottom line, I didn't get released I just got sent down, that's how I looked at it."

It was different than last year, when Tolbert, as a rookie, earned a job in the major leagues as a utility player out of spring training. He got off to a hot start in April, but his season was ruined when he tore a thumb ligament diving head-first into first base in mid-May. Tolbert was on the disabled list until September and didn't see much action after playing quite a bit early in the season.

Now, though, the 2004 16th-round draft pick is getting to play at second base every day after Alexi Casilla was sent to the minors.

Asked if he had a favorite position, Tolbert said: "Either second or short, wherever [manager Ron Gardenhire] puts me is fine with me. Just being out there is good enough."

A switch hitter, Tolbert also has taken over Casilla's No. 2 spot in the batting order, hitting behind Denard Span and ahead of Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer.

"They are some great hitters, I'm just trying to get on base for them, that's all," Tolbert said. "I'm ready to play all the time, it's just a matter of getting it done, and getting on base and everything for the big guys."

McHale may still coach

Glen Taylor is taking a long time to pick a Timberwolves general manager. He has been quoted many times that the new GM will pick the coach.

While that might be true, I believe the new GM will be encouraged by Taylor to give strong consideration to retaining Kevin McHale.

McHale and Taylor have had a great relationship. Taylor has a lot of respect for McHale and his basketball knowledge. Taylor previously had said the choice to keep coaching was McHale's before backing off on that statement.

It's my opinion that if McHale wants the job and Taylor will pay him a salary similar to what Flip Saunders is receiving from Washington -- $18 million over four years -- that McHale will remain the coach of the Wolves.


As it turned out, Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson was healthy enough to play at the end of last season, but he was placed on season-ending injured reserve in October after dislocating two toes in his left foot. He is 100 percent healthy and with him back at middle linebacker this fall, the Vikings will be that much better. ... Asher Allen was not one of the 30 draft prospects the Vikings brought in to look at here, but they still ended up drafting the Georgia cornerback in the third round. ... The Wilfs had some big plans to remodel Winter Park, but because of the economy, no doubt the plans will be delayed.

For years, many college football coaches held out freshmen from competition, and they got the opportunity of having five years of coaching. Talking about that subject, Gophers coach Tim Brewster said: "The days of wholesale redshirting freshmen are over, and I think for the most part, the guys that are going to definitely redshirt from this point forward are the big guys: the offensive linemen, the defensive linemen. But, the skill players, the athletes, are going to be on the field. They help with special teams, and there's just a number of different ways that the young guys can help your football team."

Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi said of his department's needs: "We need to do some things to raise some money to get that baseball stadium, that certainly is a high priority, we would like to get a basketball practice facility, there is a lot of needs and they will never stop. The people of Minnesota have been generous, we are going in the right direction. [President] Robert Bruininks has just been an outstanding advocate for every aspect of the university, including sports." ... With all fall and winter sports tabulated, the Gophers rank second nationally in the Directors Cup standings, which tracks universities' athletic success across all programs. Stanford is first with 1025.25 points; the Gophers have 776.25, and North Carolina is third at 740.75. The results of spring sports will determine where the Gophers finish. ... Minnesota won the "Border Battle" all-sports competition between the Gophers and Badgers for the second time in five years. The Gophers have an insurmountable 455-345 lead entering this weekend's Big Ten outdoor track and field competition.

The Southwest Minnesota State baseball team earned a berth in an NCAA Division II regional for the first time. The Mustangs (27-13), coached by former Gopher Paul Blanchard, will play Minnesota State Mankato today in the Central Regional in Grand Junction, Colo.

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