The Oak Grove Warriors of Hattiesburg, Miss., had a strong football season in 2008, finishing 12-2 after a 28-0 loss to Meridian in the state Class 5A quarterfinals. There were rumors that some Warriors felt as if they could have advanced further, if only their early-summer preparation had not been disrupted by an interloper named Brett Favre.

That's why sources are suggesting the gates have been padlocked and several strands of barbed wire have been attached above the fences at Warrior Field.

The latest scare that Favre might be again planning to use Warrior Field as a backdrop for TV mini-cams surfaced Tuesday night when it was revealed the New York Jets had granted his demand for a release.

Favre had made this request previously in February, in conjunction with a retirement announcement. He was more forceful this week, after the Jets moved up in the draft to acquire Southern California quarterback Mark Sanchez.

The Jets acceded to Favre's demand this week. General Manager Mike Tannenbaum released a statement that included this quote from Favre: "Nothing has changed. At this time, I am retired and have no intention of returning to football."

Those three little words -- "at this time" -- make it official: Favre plans to play again.

Heck, he's already 10 weeks ahead of last year's pace on the comeback trail. It was July 8, 2008, when Favre wrote the letter to the Packers demanding his release. Now, it's still April and he's already free and clear.

Chris Mortensen, Peter King and Ed Werder -- Favre's favorite media contacts -- have their cell phones set to high alert. In a month or so, Favre will decide on whom to give the story that he's feeling antsy, and then in July he will leak the international headline that he wants to play again.

And the center of the universe when it comes to a Favre return will become Winter Park.

Brad Childress appears satisfied to arrive in Mankato with Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson competing to start at quarterback. He probably figures bringing in Percy Harvin, by acclamation the No. 1 pain in the posterior in last weekend's draft, will provide enough tension for a head coach.

Heck, Childress might even tell Darrell Bevell, an alleged buddy of Favre's, to not answer when the offensive coordinator gets the inevitable call from Mississippi.

None of these things will matter once owner Zygi Wilf gets a whiff that bringing in Favre for the 2009 season is a possibility.

The Vikings demonstrated on Saturday, when they made the strange decision to take the injury-prone, undersized, dope-smoking Harvin over Michael Oher, a starting offensive tackle for the next decade, that selling tickets is currently the team's top priority.

Thanks to Randy Moss, followers of the Purple have a greater fondness for explosive, defiant receivers than any fan base in football. The Vikings were reminded of this last week, when they let out word of an interest in Harvin and the public responded with enthusiasm.

The Vikings' need for a big-time right tackle was greater than for a receiver, and that leaves creating a buzz -- not improving the roster -- as the main motive for taking Harvin.

To confirm this, team officials on Monday had a conference call with season-ticket holders to assure them the Vikings were now an improved team. When people called in, they were asked to press a number if they had not renewed the tickets and were given a plea to send in their money.

The Vikings traded Moss after the 2004 season. Since then, they have gone from a waiting list to thousands of available tickets.

Harvin might help put a dent in the non-renewals, but he's not going to sell out the Metrodome by himself.

There's one available player to do that: Favre.

He was horrendous down the stretch for the Jets last season. At 39 and with a right bicep tendon in need of rehabilitation, he's more trouble than he's worth.

No matter.

The priority leading into this season is to put an end to weekly blackout drama. Wilf knows Favre can do that for him -- and for a modest salary compared to what Brett was owed on his previous contract.

"At this time" will become "now's the time" for Favre in the weeks ahead. And then he will wind up in Minnesota, where we're just the suckers to embrace a washed-up legend.

Patrick Reusse can be heard 5:30-9 a.m. weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP. •