The Vikings cleaned out their lockers and officially began their offseason Monday morning, which means Favre Watch 2010 is also underway.
There already has been speculation that Brett Favre won’t return for his second season. Of course, Favre could say ‘no’ soon and change his mind before training camp starts.
“It’s still early,” wide receiver Bernard Berrian said. “Way too early. Brett is liable to change his mind five, 10 times down the road.”
Favre’s impact on the team this season and plans for next season were a popular topic in the locker room.
“It was a fun season playing with a guy like Brett,” Berrian said. “Brett is a fun dude. He’s fun to be around. Playing with him, you find out why people gravitate towards him and why people love him.”
Count rookie wide receiver Percy Harvin in that group. Harvin became close to Favre this season and the two shared an emotional moment in the locker room after the game Sunday. Harvin said he talked to Favre briefly on the phone Monday morning but they didn’t discuss next season.
“I don’t want to hound him with that,” Harvin said. “I know he’s been hounded already about that. Mine was just appreciation for everything. I know everybody on this offense took something from him. Whether he comes back or not, he’s taught this team so much. The strides that this offense took I think a lot of the credit goes to No. 4. I felt bad that we couldn’t go out with him on top this year. I just wanted to tell him thank you. We’ll talk later on in the offseason and maybe I’ll start convincing him then.”
Harvin said he learned a lot about football from playing with Favre.
“Brett is going to be Brett regardless of what anybody says about him, regardless of anything he goes through,” Harvin said. “I just like the guts he has. He plays the game with a lot of passion. I don’t think there are too many people that care about this game more than he does. Just being able to play with him and witness that for myself, that’s something I can take and we all can take from him. Just the love he has for the game.
“He taught me so much. It’s kind of almost like a -- I wouldn’t say a father-son -- but like a brother type relationship. On the field and off the field. I think everybody wanted to send Brett out a better way.”
Favre’s interception with 19 seconds left in regulation cost the Vikings a chance to win the game in regulation. But his teammates praised his toughness for continuing to play despite an ankle injury and enduring a number of huge hits all game from the Saints defense. Favre had his ankle checked out Monday morning but the results were not immediately known.
“He’s the toughest guy I’ve ever been around,” kicker Ryan Longwell said. “The toughest football player I’ve ever seen and he happens to play quarterback. What he did after he hurt his leg gave us a chance to go to the Super Bowl.”
Said left guard Steve Hutchinson: “That’s the guy that I watched play when I was in high school. You can’t say enough about him. His toughness and everybody knew that going in. In a game like this you could just see it in his eyes when he came back out there. Everybody looked at him and said, ‘Hey, this guy is limping along. Let’s do it.’”
Said Harvin: “I don’t think many quarterbacks would have went out that way. A lot of them would have taken the easy way out and went to the sideline. Brett showed you why he’s a legend in the game.”
Harvin said he obviously wants to play with Favre another season but he understands if the 40-year-old decides to call it quits.
“Of course, if we could have him back that’s a no-brainer,” Harvin said. “But at the same time I haven’t played 20 years in the league. I played one and I can see how my body feels now. I commend him for the things he’s accomplished. I will be one of the ones trying to convince him [to return] but at the same time he’s put in numerous years. I don’t know how much of a beating a man can take, but we’ll see.”