The NFL season just ended and the talks of the Packers and the dynasty they may become has driven me to the level of insanity. As a Vikings fan, I don’t even want to think about that possibility. Therefore, I decide to focus on something different and more Vikings-related
The ride that was the Brett Favre era in Minnesota.
And what a wild ride it was. When I first heard of Favre coming in August of 2009 possibly coming to the Vikings, I wouldn’t have, in my wildest dreams, expected what happened over the next two years.
When the Vikings walked off the field in January in the New Orleans Dome, I didn’t expect Favre to come back. He’d taken a beating that I’ve never seen a QB take, yet he nearly pulled off the miraculous. And when photos surfaced of his ankle, which was many shades of purple and swollen beyond belief, I wrote him off.
Come August, I knew the rumors would swirl. They always do. But I expected nothing of it. Favre wasn’t physically able to play anymore. And as training camp continued, it became less and less likely that he join the team.
But when Childress sent Steve Hutchinson, Jared Allen, and Ryan Longwell on a plane to go get Favre, it did a couple things for me. First, I was shocked Childress would send players to go get a player. Those 3 guys missed practice time for this. Second, Childress sent all his authority away when he begged Favre to come back. He was trying everything to get Favre back, even if it meant that he would have no authority over Favre.
As we all know, Favre came back with the guys and it was on again. Vegas made the Vikings the NFC favorites. But from the outset of the season, it just didn’t seem the same as last season. Sure, you’d never be able to match what happened last year. But from the week 3 miracle against the 49ers last year on, there was a certain aura that surrounded the team and fans. There wasn’t a point this year that even came close to that.
It wasn’t hard to realize early on that this season wouldn’t be like last. First, the schedule was significantly tougher. A loss to the Saints wasn’t awful, but a loss to the Dolphins really sent shock waves to fans. The Vikings just never lost at home. A win over the lowly Lions righted the ship for a week, but no one knew what was about to follow in the next nearly 4 months. The circus had pulled into Minnesota and wasn’t leaving.
The Vikings bye week came in Week 4, and personnel changes weren’t expected. At least, not a significant one. And no one certainly expected what did happen. Following a loss to the New York Jets and a lousy effort against the Bills, the Patriots shipped Randy Moss to the Vikings for a 3rd round pick. It was too good to be true. The Vikings biggest weakness was a deep threat. With Sidney Rice out, the offense was struggling.
And one week in, Moss made a huge impact. Against a Jets team that is now playing in the AFC title game, the Moss caught 4 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown (which was Favre’s 500th touchdown of his career). And his effect on the rest of the offense was also evident as Harvin finished with 5 catches for 97 yards and 2 TDs and Peterson had a total of 108 yards.
But the gunslinger had to leave his mark. With his team down 2 and needing a drive to get into FG range, Favre did what Favre knows best: a pick 6 to seal the game for the Jets.
Despite the loss, fans were optimistic about the team now. I, for one, predicted the season would turn around following this game (something I did a couple times). And, despite another uninspiring offensive performance against Dallas, a win was a win. And with the Packers coming up, the Vikings could take a big step forward with their 2nd divisional win.
But the gunslinger just didn’t have it this year. Favre threw 3 second-half interceptions, but still led a drive with what looked to be the game-winning TD to Percy Harvin in the back of the endzone. But a booth review nullified the touchdown and the momentum the Vikings had. Another loss dropped them to 2-4 and things weren’t going right.
The schedule wasn’t doing the Vikings any favors either as the Patriots were up next. But with a former Patriot on the team, one would think the Vikings would have a shot. And they did, but it just wasn’t enough. But the score wasn’t the headline here.
First, Brett Favre took a shot late in the 4th that concussed him and required stitches to close a gash. And secondly, Randy Moss looked like Randy Moss, showing little effort after a defensive pass interference call in which he could have caught a touchdown.
And apparently that was the final straw for Brad Childress. One day after the Patriots game, Childress placed Moss on waivers, much to the dismay of the owner Zigi Wylf and much of the team. Essentially, this was the beginning of the end for Childress. Wylf nearly fired him on the spot and Childress lost complete control of the locker room. No explanation was given and teammates were furious. Over the course of the next 3 games, Vikings players and Childress had numerous disputes during practices, yet Childress wasn’t fired.
The team, however, was rallying around themselves. After going down 14 points to the Cardinals, at home, with less than 5 minutes left, the Vikings rallied. In a do-or-die game, the Vikings scored twice in 3 minutes to send the game to overtime, then hit a FG to win it in OT. Favre passed for a career-high and things just looked right. The aura that was there last year was back for a short 15:00 stretch from the end of the 4th through OT.
But that’s as long as it’d last.
The Vikings lost to the Bears in Chicago, then were absolutely embarrassed by the Packers at home. Finally, that was the last straw for Wylf and Childress was promptly fired the following day.
But it was too little, too late. At 3-7, nothing short of a miracle would put the Vikings in the playoffs. Interim coach Leslie Frazier gave it his best shot, beating both Washington and Buffalo, but it wasn’t enough. And during the Buffalo game, we had the last bit of Favre drama for the season.
On his first pass of the game, Favre took a huge hit and landed squarely on his shoulder. This did serious damage to his shoulder and, for the first time in his 20-year career, Favre sat out a game. But, that wasn’t even the biggest story-line of the week.
Sunday morning before the game, the Vikings stadium, much like their team, collapsed. The roof deflated and holes tore in the roof, allowing snow to pour in. Without many options, the Vikings moved the game to Monday night at Detroit. Whether it was Favre’s injury or the unique circumstances surrounding the game, the Vikings came out flat and never put up a fight.
But you knew Favre wasn’t just going to go out without one last hurrah. After being ruled out on Monday before the game, Favre not only suited up, but started the game against Chicago at the University of Minnesota’s stadium outdoors. And Favre gave fans some brief hope that something magical wasn’t going to happen. On his first drive, Favre led the Vikings downfield and threw a touchdown to Harvin for a quick 7-0 lead.
But just as quickly as he led that drive, he was knocked out of the game on a vicious hit by Corety Wooton that ended his career. Concussed, sore from his shoulder injury, and aching from numerous other injuries, Favre sat out the rest of the game and the rest of the season.
The Vikings one last hurrah came against the Eagles as Joe Webb gave Vikings fan something to be excited about as the Vikings took down Vick and the Eagles at Philly.
But the season ended just as it started, one last disappointing game: a loss to Detroit, dropping the Vikings to 6-10 and last in the NFC North. And I hadn’t even mentioned the Jenn Sterger case that hung over Favre’s head for the entirety of the season. The distractions and crazy circumstances were endless this year
In just 12 months, the Vikings went from near Super Bowl champions to worst in the division. It was an incredible 12 month ride. It was a circus, most certainly. If nothing else, it kept the season exciting.
In the end, was the choice to have Brett Favre as our QB for 2 years worth it? It’s hard to say, especially after the year he just gave us Vikings fans to remember him by. But what you can’t deny is that Favre went out and gave his all every game. And as a Vikings fan since about 2000, it was pretty gloom. No one thought Tarvaris Jackson was our QB of the future. So going out and getting Favre was a sly move.
And he gave me one of the most memorable seasons ever in his first year there. For all the bad he did this year, I still fall back to the amazing things he did in 2009. Starting with his little miracle against the 49ers and ending with his interception to Tracey Porter, he kept Vikings fans on the edge of our seats. For one season, I proudly wore my Vikings apparel around campus and could brag about my Vikings.
And for all the bad that came with Favre this year, you can’t fault the guy. He simply wanted to play the game he loved, no matter how hurt he was. And that’s what we paid him for. Did he cost us numerous games? Absolutely. But how many games did he single-handedly win for us the previous year? I can tell you this without doubt, Tarvaris Jackson would not have led the Vikings to 13-3 and an NFC North division title.
As I sat with my friend yesterday watching his Jets take down the Patriots, all I could think of was how much I miss last season, how great a season it was. It’s one that will go down in the history books as one of the greatest QB seasons ever.
So, Brett Favre, I’d like to extend a thank you to you. Thank you for two memorable years. Thank you for always give everything you had. Thank you for always trying to play, despite injury. Thank you for giving me two of the most memorable seasons ever. Thank you for being Brett Favre