Brett Favre — a vision in purple and red (his quarterback practice jersey) — walked onto the Vikings’ practice field at 1:29 p.m. today, the hopes and dreams of the team and the 24/7 eyes of the blogosphere arriving with him.
Moments earlier, Tarvaris Jackson had strolled out of the locker room, smiling at members of the assembled media. Sage Rosenfels followed, more purposely, sans smile.
Then the Favre chapter officially began, presumably with him having passed his physical and having signed a contract that media reports put between $10 million and $12 million.
The scene outside Winter Park was equal parts throwback to Herschel Walker’s ballyhooed arrival in 1989 and, say, an Obama presidential visit.
A couple of hundred fans crowded along Vikings Drive opposite the team’s headquarters in Eden Prairie. They constantly pushed into traffic that already was slowed by gawkers. They cheered when head coach Brad Childress’ black Escalade SUV carrying Favre pulled into the driveway and then rushed across the road hoping for a glimpse as Favre entered through a back door.
Most fans were gone by the time practice started, although a few snuck peeks from behind the privacy fence of the adjoining property, a Rasmussen College campus.
Favre’s early minutes of practice were long on handshakes and smiles exchanged with new teammates. Then, the quarterback quickly settled into the daily grind he had seemed so eager to avoid — stretching, taking snaps practicing a few drop-backs, and looking for a few receivers down the field.
Favre threw behind receiver Nick Moore coming across the middle. He threw high to Vinny Perretta to the left. Then he threw low for Glenn Holt. No one, however, seemed bothered.
Later in practice, Jackson, John David Booty and Favre alternated snaps while Rosenfels, in a baseball cap, watched from the side, still nursing a sore right ankle from Friday’s pre-season opener.
Word around Winter Park is that Favre could play — and, perhaps, start — as soon as Friday in the exhibition game against Kansas City at the Metrodome.
Some Vikings players talked about Favre’s signing as they walked off the practice field:
Ryan Longwell, Vikings kicker who played nine years with Favre in Green Bay: “We’ll see excitement, we’ll see energy, we’ll see a will to win and a rocket arm. He can throw the ball like not many who have played in this league. So it’ll be fun to watch him.”
Center John Sullivan: “You talk about a guy with that much experience, he’s a great resource. I’ll make sure that I pick his brain every chance I get, whenever questions come up. I’m looking forward to learning some stuff from him.”
Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, whose role obviously is changed. He goes from competing for starting job to battling for the backup role: “It’s not a good feeling. I just have to take it for what it’s worth and try to get better.”
Quarterback Sage Rosenfels, facing similar situation as Jackson now: “When the team needs me this year, I’m going to be ready. I’m going to keep working as if I know I could start. From that perspective, my work ethic [and] my attitude are not going to change.”
He and team officials were scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. with the media, but had not started as of 5:40. More later.
Steve Aschburner has been writing about sports for nearly three decades.