Brett Favre addresses teammates twice
SAN FRANCISCO -- Brett Favre, in an effort to assure his Vikings teammates he was fully committed to playing a 20th NFL season despite missing training camp, stood and addressed them and most of the team's coaching staff twice in two days after returning to Eden Prarie, Minn., on Tuesday.
Favre, in an afternoon interview with ESPN before his preseason debut against the 49ers on Sunday night, said he first spoke to the team on Wednesday at the urging of coach Brad Childress.
The next day, Favre and other team leaders convened in another full-squad meeting so the quarterback could address a report that his relationship with Childress was failing and that it was among the reasons he nearly retired.
Favre indicated that one of the points he and others stressed was that players needed to keep certain issues within the team, saying, "If something is being said in here -- by whoever, it's got to stop. It's hard enough to win as it is. Success does crazy things. So we had a good meeting."
There was tension between Favre and Childress last December when the coach attempted to remove his starting quarterback during a loss to the Carolina Panthers.
Sources told ESPN at the time that Childress had made similar attempts in at least one other game, and that Favre was irritated about the issue. Sources also maintained that Favre was unhappy that Childress was too controlling in game planning and attempted to limit Favre's audibles at the line of scrimmage.
"That article, like the schism thing, brought us together last year," Fave said. "It really did because it wasn't true. I don't know if someone out there is planting seeds or what but we wanted to nip it in the bud."
The second meeting happened the same day receiver Percy Harvin collapsed on the field and was taken to a local hospital, where he remained overnight.
Favre said Childress was not involved in the meeting as the coach was at the hospital with Harvin, but Favre called Childress to explain what he said to the rest of the team.
"He didn't need to be there because he's getting beat up and he doesn't deserve it," Favre said.
In his 53 weeks since first joining the Vikings, Favre has spoken to the full team three times, something he says he almost never did in 16 seasons with the Green Bay Packers and one with the New York Jets.
His speech to them Wednesday was similar in tone and content to one Childress had him deliver just before the regular-season opener a year ago.
"I did feel -- more so than last year, believe it or not -- I needed them to know I'm all in," Favre said. "Not that they didn't know. I think they did just from me being there. And that was kind of the mantra from all of those guys: 'We knew if we got you here, we were going to get you and you'd be all in. It was getting your [butt] here that is the problem.'
"The hardest part for me is leaving Hattiesburg and the tranquility and that stuff, leaving that. But when I left it, I knew it was nose to the grindstone for five months now."
Favre endured a horrific beating in the NFC Championship Game loss to the New Orleans Saints, limping off with a bruised thigh and an ankle injury that required surgery before he could play again in 2010. That pain and the mental trauma of throwing a game-turning interception on his final pass of what was the best statistical season of his career created doubt about his willingness to do it all again.
"I can't expect people to understand my decision-making process but the feeling I had after that game, I wouldn't wish that feeling upon anyone,'' he said. "As great as the season was -- and it will go down as one of my all-time favorites -- it ranks right up there if you consider all the things, coming to a new team, showing up late and the chemistry -- but after that loss, seeing the faces, knowing how I felt and how hard it is to get in that position, walking across that field to the bus, I said, 'I never want to have this feeling again.' "
Favre, Adrian Peterson and the other healthy Vikings starters are scheduled to play as much as the entire first quarter Sunday against the 49ers. Favre said he is 11 pounds heavier than last year but his waist is smaller. Favre said he has not been eating red meat or desserts and drinks only water.
"After the second day of practice, it was like I'd never left," he said.
But in addition to some expected soreness in his groin and hamstrings, Favre is suffering the effects of a sinus infection that is being treated with steroids and other prescription medication.
"It feels like my head is 40 feet under water," he said.
Ed Werder is an NFL reporter for ESPN.