In his first press conference since the Vikings season came to an end, Vikings head coach Brad Childress faced what might be an ongoing question over the next several months – is Brett Favre coming back? Some reports claim Favre might be leaning to coming back for one more season after having what longtime friend Ryan Longwell proclaimed was the “funnest season either of us has ever had” – a pretty impressive statement since the two have combined to play 32 years in the NFL. Others have claimed Favre made his decision weeks ago that this would be his final season. Rumor has it that Ed Werder has reported both (we know ESPN reported it would be “highly unlikely” Favre returns).
In his year-end press conference at Winter Park, Childress was asked to weigh in, but said that it’s never easy to press for an answer to a question like that given the proximity to the 2009 season coming to an end.
“I don’t have an expectation,” Childress said. “I know that he had a great experience here. I know it too well to know that the emotions are a little bit raw right now, that we’re still too close to it. He’s earned his time to be able to step away from it and talk to his family and figure out what he wants to do. I don’t have a strong expectation one way or the other. It would not surprise me one way or the other.”
Childress said he doesn’t know how long it will take Favre to make a decision on whether or not he plans to return or if the team will experience another waiting game. He said he won’t push the veteran QB to make a decision one way or the other, because, as battered as he was Sunday night, it probably wouldn’t have been the wisest decision to try to rush an answer out of him.
“Really haven’t set a timeline on that,” Childress said. “I just visited with him (Tuesday) morning in the training room. He’s been here for a couple days getting treatment. (He was) pretty beat up after that game, even though he was not sacked. But we didn’t really have any meaningful conversation about what’s next aside from he was catching a plane to head home late (Tuesday) morning.”
How the Vikings move forward in the meantime may be a two-phased process – one that would include Favre in the picture and one that doesn’t. Unlike the media types who are looking for an answer to that question sooner than later, Childress said the Vikings won’t push hard for a decision because his salary likely wouldn’t be an issue because 2010 is expected to not have a salary cap and, if the Wilf family is willing to pay him (which it has already said it is), the team can go through its free-agent and draft process with a version that includes Favre and a version that doesn’t.
“I think you can plan both ways,” Childress said. “I know (the media) want to box that in that way. Rob (Brzezinski) has done a great job with the salary cap, and we are going into an uncapped year; it appears that’s the way it’s moving right now. Really, I think our numbers will be just fine if he (Favre) comes back or he doesn’t come back. Again, I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s up to him. But it’s not a deal where I need to put a gun at his head and say, ‘I need to know in a week, two weeks, two months.’ I know you guys (the media) want it all in concrete and set in stone.”
Childress said the whirlwind season that saw Favre play in a preseason game just four days after signing a contract has been one that took a toll on the quarterback. He needs time to decompress and get time to not only let his body recover from the beating, but let his mind process what he went through over the last five months and what lies ahead.
“You have to heal mentally and you have to heal physically,” Childress said. “That’s a process for all of us, stepping away from it. You guys too. You have to step away. You’re here every day. You got to step away. You’ve got to go refresh. You want to make sure you make a decision that is not an emotional decision and that’s an informed decision and really kind of check your whole card a little bit.”
Childress added that the team still has Sage Rosenfels under contract and, barring an unforeseen labor agreement in the next month, Tarvaris Jackson would be a restricted free agent instead of a full-out unrestricted free agent, which adds to the likelihood he will be back. The plan heading into the 2009 season was that those two would battle it out for the starting job. If Favre doesn’t return, not only will that happen, but it would involve bringing in a third quarterback to fit into the mix.
“We typically have gone with three quarterbacks and at least go to training camp with three,” Childress said. “Should he not come back, you’d have to find an able body that either was just an able body or somebody that you felt like could be in the mix to be your third. But again, those are down-the-road things. Sage and Tarvaris were going to be the guys we were going to lean on in the beginning. We’ll just kind of open it up and re-visit when we know a little bit more.”
Will that third QB be Favre? The waiting game has begun.
Childress said he expects cornerback Cedric Griffin to have surgery in the next week or so with a healing schedule of about six to nine months – which would target his return at anywhere from the start of training camp to as late as October. More will likely be learned once he has the surgery and the extent of the damage can be assessed.
E.J. Henderson has been allowed to start bearing weight on his own surgically-repaired knee, but he is still on crutches. Childress said his recovery timetable won’t be known until he starts doing “functional rehab stuff.”
Add Sidney Rice and Kevin Williams to the list of players that opted out of the Pro Bowl. Williams said as recently as Tuesday that he was considering heading to Miami to play in the Pro Bowl, but cited his recent knee injury as the reason for not going. Rice was unavailable to explain his reason for skipping the game.
With those two names added to the list, five of the 10 Vikings named to the Pro Bowl squad have bowed out, as Rice and Williams join Favre, Percy Harvin and Antoine Winfield on the Pro Bowl MIA list.
Rice was replaced by Roddy White of the Falcons on the Pro Bowl roster and Williams was replaced by San Francisco DT Justin Smith.
Childress refuted a report following Sunday’s game that Winfield re-injured his ailing foot, saying he was simply hurting from the loss and not due to injury.
Quarterbacks coach Kevin Rogers is being considered for the Bears offensive coordinator job. The Bears asked for and received permission from the Vikings to interview Rogers. He is also rumored to be in the running for the O.C. position at Syracuse University.
From the world of Twitter comes this: On Sunday night, Brett Favre was the No. 2 top-trending Twitter term among users. At No. 5 at the same time? The misspelled word “Farve.” One would think that, after 19 years in the league, so many people wouldn’t still be misspelling his last name.