MANKATO - The first practice of Vikings training camp felt more like a wake than a wedding. A large media contingent showed up in town Friday morning to watch Brett Favre, and when he didn't jog onto the field -- hey, you never know -- a quiet crowd and all those national reporters who are stuck in Minnesota with nonrefundable airline tickets watched Sage Rosenfels throw passes softer than the housing market.
This is the way training camp works: You show up every year intrigued by the prospect of the first glimpse of the Vikings. The intrigue lasts until you realize that the only reason to watch a football practice is if Randy Moss is catching passes or an egomaniac from Mississippi is throwing them.
This is why we love Bobby Wade, now more than ever.
He's always been a nice guy, a quotable guy, a guy with NFL and life perspective. Friday, while Favre was mulling ankle replacement surgery that could have him taking snaps at Winter Park by Dec. 7, 2010, Wade was giving us something else to talk about.
"It's something I definitely probably shouldn't have said," Wade said.
I disagree. He should be just getting warmed up.
Wednesday, Wade told KFAN Radio that Bears star linebacker Brian Urlacher used a derogatory term to describe new Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. "Pretty much," Wade said, "[Urlacher] said Jay Cutler was a [bleep] for the most part."
Cutler begged his way out of Denver when he felt new coach Josh McDaniels was too unwilling to administer total-body massages to his All-Universe quarterback. Since arriving in Chicago, Cutler has been spotted at more bars than Captain Morgan.
Friday, Wade said he shouldn't have related Urlacher's insult publicly. What was more interesting was that Wade didn't retract the statement, didn't even say that Urlacher is angry with him.
"If I had the opportunity back, I probably wouldn't have said it," Wade said. "However, moving forward, it was said, and my communication with Brian is still good, so it is what it is."
Reading between the lines, we can surmise this much: Wade and Urlacher, old friends, were speaking candidly. Urlacher doesn't like Cutler. Urlacher called Cutler a nasty name. Wade did not mind creating a little tension in a rival's training camp, even at the risk of offending his buddy Urlacher.
"That's always fun," Wade said. "But there was no real point intended."
Actually, Wade should become head of the Vikings' (NF)CIA, their pass-catching provocateur, their subversive split end.
"That's not what you want to get into right now, at this point in the season,'' linebacker Ben Leber said. "But you know, yeah, there's a little bur in their saddle right now. It's interesting, how it's all played out. I know nobody really wants to be in Bobby's shoes right now.''
Again, I disagree. Wade has created conflict between the two most important players on a rival team. Brad Childress should be hand-washing Wade's car.
In a sport that likes to think of itself as an acceptable form of war, isn't messing with your opponents' minds a good thing? Receiver Sidney Rice nodded and said, "Yeeeaaaaah!"
Or as cornerback Cedric Griffin said, "We're going to mess with all of them when we play them, so it doesn't really matter."
Hasn't Wade, like Adrian Peterson on third down, been held back too long? Shouldn't he start messing with the Packers? "I guess so," said defensive end Jared Allen. "But we don't have any dirt yet."
Give Bobby a little time. He'll turn up something.
Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon on AM-1500 KSTP. • firstname.lastname@example.org