Zygi Wilf, owner of the Vikings, said he was as shocked as anybody else would have been when he got a phone call Monday from coach Brad Childress saying that he had made a phone call to Brett Favre and the former Packers quarterback had changed his mind about retiring to join the Vikings.

"I had our plane ready to fly to Minnesota [from New Jersey] Tuesday morning, planned to watch practice on Tuesday and then fly to Chicago for a league meeting on Wednesday," Wilf said. "It all happened in 24 hours. Instead of flying to Minneapolis we went to Hattiesburg [Mississippi] to pick up Favre, and if he passed a physical, he was going to be a Viking."

Terms had been set long before the last conversation with Favre.

Wilf had insisted that Favre not get a guaranteed multiyear contract as part of the negotiations.

So the way things worked out, Favre will get a two-year contract. The first year of $12 million will all be guaranteed once the season starts. The second year calls for Favre to be paid $13 million, but none of it will be guaranteed.

Wilf insisted the signing wasn't to sell tickets but basically to improve the team.

Wilf, his son, Jonathan, and his brother Mark were on the private plane flying back here from Mississippi. Word that Favre was heading north spread quickly. At one point during the flight, an air-traffic controller in Memphis asked the pilot if he might have an old quarterback on board.

Wilf said he was very impressed with Favre during the two-hour flight.

"Very much so. He's a guy who can bring confidence to everybody on our ballclub," Wilf said. "You know from his actions and the way he talks he has a love for the game. He's committed to winning. He'll give his all to do the best he can."

What impressed you the most about him?

"He's such a regular top guy. It was a pleasure just to hear from him," Wilf said. "He has a love and passion for the game. That's all you can ask. To be coming from a future Hall of Famer like Brett Favre is special to see. He is ready to go.

"This is something the fans have been looking forward to for a long time. Like I have always stated: Our personnel department and our team will do everything necessary to make our team better. We have done that from year one."

Do your people feel he has a lot of football left in him?

"Absolutely. His love of the game and desire to play and knowing that, from his standpoint, he wouldn't be doing this unless he knows he can do this," Wilf said.

How did it finally happen?

"It just happened. The timing was right," Wilf said. "We both felt good that he could come aboard. It was the desire and the love to play football. It was an opportunity to play football and have a club that wanted him to play for them us."

Do you think he can take you to the Super Bowl?

"All I can say is that it makes us a better team," Wilf said. "Any time we get better, our chances get better to do what we set out to do, and this year it's defend our division [title] and move on. We are very optimistic about our chances this season of improving."

Does this help the stadium deal?

"We didn't approach it from that aspect," Wilf said "There is an urgency right now to get the Vikings stadium deal done. I am sure with the cooperation of the Legislature and all the people in Minnesota, we will find a way to get it done.

"It will certainly help us sell tickets. But the most important objective was to get our team to be a better team. I think today we just got a little bit better."

Big day for Bevell Darrell Bevell had worked as Favre's quarterback coach for three years in Green Bay before becoming Vikings offensive coordinator.

"I am excited about him for our football team," Bevell said. "He has a proven track record. He is a great talent. I look forward to having him on our offense."

Bevell was asked if there any one thing he recalled about coaching Favre.

"I remember him not missing a start. He played every game whether he was hurt or not. Obviously, I remember his talent," said Bevell, himself a former quarterback.

Do you remember any certain game or play he made?

"One of my fondest memories is the Monday night game when we went down to Oakland the day after his father passed away," Bevell said. "He played out of his mind and played outstanding."

Do you think he has lost much?

"That remains to be seen. I don't think he has lost much," Bevell said. "He has only been in here for one day. We need to give him a little bit of time before we answer that fully."

When you went down to Hattiesburg and saw him work out did you believe he could still play?

"It was an opportunity to look at him physically, in terms of how the ball was coming out and was he able to release it without pain," Bevell said. "He was honest with us, and told us for the most part there wasn't much pain. He threw close to 100 balls that day, and still looked good."

Did seeing him one day bring back memories?

"It's fun to watch him. He is great for the game," Bevell said. "To see Favre on the back of the jersey is going to be exciting for our fans."

How does he fit in with this offense?

There is definitely a place for him," Bevell said. "We need a leader. He knows the offense, and knows where to go with the football. We know exactly what kind of performance we are going to get when we send him out there."

How are guys going to profit from him?

"A lot of guys are going to profit from him. A lot of guys are going to benefit from him," Bevell said.

"He's a good player. He's definitely one of the best who has ever played the game. We need to get that out of him while he's here."

Vikings fans might have dreamed of Favre playing for the team, but what were the odds that would happen?

And can you imagine the scene in Green Bay when the Vikings play the Packers in that Monday night game on Oct. 5?

If Favre is healthy and can perform anywhere near how he did two years ago when he led the Packers to a 13-3 record and one pass interception from going to the Super Bowl, the Vikings with the great defense and now a great quarterback could be in Miami when they play the Super Bowl next February.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on his Podcast once a week at www.startribune.com/sidcast. shartman@startribune.com