There were a few hours at mid-afternoon Friday when Brett Favre seemed ready to be in the background of national sports coverage. ESPN was ready to puts its focus on Alex Rodriguez's return to the Yankees lineup and the Dodgers' second game with Manny Ramirez missing.

Favre and his agent, Bus Cook, could not put up with this. Perhaps Chris Mortensen and Ed Werder were bored with the pair, because they found a new bobo within the ESPN empire to leak information: Jeremy Schaap.

He came up with the report at 2:45 p.m. that Favre had sent X-rays of his right shoulder to the Vikings. Apparently, this shipment was taking place Thursday, at the same time Yahoo! Sports felt it had scooped the world with a revelation that Favre told Vikings coach Brad Childress not to bother meeting him in Mississippi -- that this time, the quarterback truly was retired.

And, we might as well throw this one out while we're at it: A rumor has circulated locally that the Vikings sent an orthopedic specialist to Mississippi this week to check out Favre.

What would seem to be going on here with Favre is the same delicate balancing act he has attempted to pull off for the past several years.

The contention here is that the conflict with Favre never has been between playing and retiring. The conflict has involved continuing to play and figuring out how to avoid the organized team activities (OTAs) that now take place for a total of four weeks before and after minicamp.

The spring practices have been around for a while, but organizations recently applied the OTA label and put more pressure on players to attend.

The first time the term was used with the Vikings was in 2006, with Childress as the coach. That was also Mike McCarthy's first season in Green Bay. And it was also the first time Favre chose to start the offseason with a mention of possible retirement.

Two years later, Favre turned the 2008 offseason into a daily drama: sobbing over retirement, vacillating on a return, getting angry when the Packers decided to get on with their lives, and winding up unhappy with the New York Jets.

Clearly, he enjoyed the attention, since he has decided to create the same chaos in 2009.

Remember when this all started -- the ESPN report that included the information the Vikings would expect Favre to fully participate in the team's offseason program?

That had to give Packers GM Ted Thompson and McCarthy a chuckle -- the idea their division rivals were naïve enough to think they could get Favre to spend most of five weeks at Winter Park for a minicamp and OTAs.

Even if Favre signs, this is what we're going to hear: The old boy needs some rehabilitation on his shoulder, he can do that as well in Mississippi as in Minnesota, and the Vikings expect that he will be throwing in time for several OTA days in mid-June.

I haven't been around Favre enough to attempt psychoanalysis. So, a Wisconsin reporter was asked to put the quarterback on a couch.

Question: The theory that this return is motivated by a hatred for the Packers' Thompson. Is it valid?

Reporter: "I buy the revenge factor, although I don't buy that it's as deep with Brett as with his family. His wife [Deanna] has got it bad when it comes to loathing Thompson. His family as a whole wants Brett to play to get back at the Packers. Plus, they enjoy watching him."

Question: This would seem to validate that he both suffers and is driven by an over-the-top sensitivity to criticism -- a Kevin Garnett in a helmet?

Reporter: "A shrink who wanted to win a Nobel Prize would do an extensive study on Brett and where he comes from. There's this remarkable dichotomy between a brilliant athlete with supreme confidence on the field, and a guy with enough insecurities to never miss a game, even when he probably should have, and who tried to keep his backup from taking more than a few practice snaps.

"He got his job because Don Majkowski missed a game with injury. In my opinion, that on those days he's with his football team, he never forgets that.

"Favre's a weird combination of ego, confidence and insecurity."

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