Pressure on as Favre returns to scene of prime
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Brett Favre's adjustment to being a member of the Minnesota Vikings appears to be nearly complete. The sight of Favre in a Vikings uniform is no longer jarring to the senses, and the quarterback cleared a major hurdle last month when he beat the team he was once synonymous with, the Green Bay Packers, at the Metrodome.
But there is one final obstacle in Favre's transition from green to purple, and it will come this afternoon. That's when he will set foot on Lambeau Field for the first time not only as a visitor but as a member of the Packers' archrivals. The beauty of it is that no one knows what to expect, and although Favre will try to downplay a singular story line even he must be curious as to the reception he will get.
"My career with Green Bay speaks for itself, and the games I played in Lambeau Field, it's a special place, and that won't change," Favre said after the Vikings' 27-17 loss to the Steelers last Sunday. "Now, for three hours I'll be on the other side. Do I know what that will feel like? I have no idea because I've never been on the other side. But I know our team needs a win, and I know it'll be a tough place to play because it always is."
The Vikings' 30-23 victory against the Packers Oct. 5 generated record ratings for cable television in part because it was the sole focus of the NFL world as a Monday night game. Curiosity about how Favre would fare against the team from which he had an ugly divorce after 16 seasons surrounded a week of buildup. Favre did not disappoint with his performance -- at least if you were a Vikings fan -- throwing three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Today, Favre will have to share the spotlight with the rest of the NFL, but only slightly. Originally slated to begin at 1 p.m., the NFL has moved the game to a more attractive start time of 4:15 p.m. and Fox is expected to beam it to 91 percent of the country.
Linebacker Ben Leber was asked if it was going to seem odd to see Favre wearing Vikings colors at Lambeau. "I hadn't really thought too much about actually seeing him out there, but, certainly, it's not going to be as big of shock to me as it is for those 65,000, 70,000 people that are going to be there," Leber said. "I'll be curious to see what they have to say."
Right guard Anthony Herrera is among those who feel the good Favre did in Green Bay -- two Super Bowl appearances, one championship and countless records -- will outweigh the hostility Packers fans might feel for him.
"I won't say he made Green Bay because they had great quarterbacks before that, especially Bart [Starr], but No. 4 is No. 4 any way you slice it or dice it," Herrera said.
"At the end of the day, he is with a different team. But, let's be honest. Look at what he did for Green Bay. Like I said, they have great fans up there, and I think they'll be loyal to him."
Favre's business will be trying to help the Vikings sweep the season series from the Packers for the first time since 2005. The Vikings remain atop the NFC North with a 6-1 record, but the Packers (5-2) could pull within a half-game.
The Vikings' formula is likely to change from last week when Favre attempted 50 passes against the Steelers; the Vikings ran the ball a season-low 23 times, with Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson getting 18 carries. That marked the first time Favre attempted 50 passes in a game since Dec. 21 2006, when he did it in a 9-7 victory against the Vikings.
"In any given game, you have to do what you have to do," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "You always like to be able to exert your will and run it all the time. Sometimes, logic dictates that you don't and you need to spread people out a little bit more and do some other things."
Although Favre has led the Vikings to two wins in the fourth quarter this season, the goal never was to have him air it out on a regular basis. Certainly, they don't want to ask Favre to do so on a day when he undoubtedly is going to have to deal with plenty of outside pressure.
Remember, Favre played it cool, calm and collected leading up to the first Packers game, but later revealed he was "about as nervous as I've ever been" before the game. Childress talked to Favre before the game about his nerves -- something he often does with players going against their former teams -- and could be doing so again.
"I don't know," Childress said. "... I'm sure there will be a lot made of it, but he's weathered the one event and I know he'll prepare just like he prepared for them four weeks ago."
First Published November 1, 2009 12:00 am