Maybe, when Brett Favre delayed signing with the Vikings last summer, he was waffling. Maybe he was merely awaiting NFL approval of the script he wrote for the 2009 season, a script he helped transform from fanciful to factual during the Vikings' 34-3 dissection of the Dallas Cowboys in a divisional playoff game Sunday at Mall of America Field.
In the five months since helicopters followed him to Winter Park, Favre has turned 40; beaten his old team, the Green Bay Packers, twice with brilliant performances; led the Vikings deeper into the playoffs than they've been in nine years; played with the greatest precision and efficiency of his record-setting career; and performed the "American Idol" hit "Pants on the Ground" in the winning locker room after a playoff game. (You can look it up -- on YouTube.)
This weekend he'll season his story with Cajun spices when he leads the franchise that once hated him into the NFC championship game in the stadium housing the team he once loved.
The Louisiana Superdome holds the New Orleans Saints, and memories of the only Super Bowl Favre has won. If any more of his wishes come true, Favre will play in and host the Super Bowl on the lawn of his Mississippi ranch.
"All of those years I pulled for the Saints, and I told [coach] Sean Payton that way back when," Favre said. "I told him that secretly I'm a Saints fan.
"Now I'm going to be involved in a game that either they go to the Super Bowl, or they get knocked out."
Favre said he never wore a paper bag over his head, like other fans, to protest the Saints' former legacy of ineptitude. He certainly never figured he'd become the answer to the favorite question of New Orleans fans -- "Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?"
"I don't think too many people down there will be compassionate that I am with the Vikings, coming in," Favre said.
The Vikings didn't display mercy Sunday, whipping the Cowboys to the point that veteran Dallas linebacker Keith Brooking charged at Vikings coach Brad Childress to protest Favre's last, tack-on, touchdown pass in the waning minutes.
Brooking berated the wrong coaches. After the game, in a matter-of-fact Vikings' locker room, player after player credited their coaches with predicting the Cowboys' tendencies, tacitly admitting that the Cowboys' staff offered no new schematic wrinkles.
That showed in every phase of the game. Favre, facing the Cowboys' famous pass rush, was close to flawless, throwing four touchdown passes -- three to Sidney Rice -- and no interceptions. In nine games at the Metrodome this season, Favre threw 25 touchdown passes and two interceptions.
Rice tied an NFL postseason record for most receiving touchdowns in a game. Favre tied a team record for most passing scores in a playoff. Defensive end Ray Edwards tied a team playoff record for most quarterback sacks in a game, with three. The Vikings' defense set a team record for most sacks in a postseason game, with six, and held the Cowboys to season-worst totals in total yards and first downs.
The Cowboys, considered the hottest if not the best team in the NFL, fumbled four times, threw an interception and offered little resistance after a first quarter in which they controlled the ball but never took a lead.
On the Vikings' second possession of the game, Favre threw a laser that seemed to squeeze between the fingers of Dallas safety Gerald Sensabaugh and into Rice's arms.
With a lead, the Vikings cut loose their pass rush and harassed Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo into three turnovers and a dozen rushed throws.
Favre had no such trouble. "The most fatigue I felt," he said, "was from celebrating."
The victory removes any doubt that the wait for Favre was worthwhile. "People say, hey, are you glad you came back?" Favre said. "Yes. The chance to play in the championship game -- it's pretty awesome."
This Sunday, Favre will wear Mardi Gras colors in New Orleans as he tries to turn another familiar dome into a soundstage for the best story in football.
Jim Souhan can be heard at 10-noon Sunday, and 6:40 a.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday on AM-1500. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. jsouhan@startribunecom