- The Washington Times - Friday, June 12, 2009

Brett Favre has undergone surgery on the partially torn biceps tendon in his throwing arm, Vikings coach Brad Childress has dismissed talk of a deadline and all that is left is the signing party and news conference.

This return of Favre - he is becoming the Sugar Ray Leonard of the NFL - is lacking in suspense. It is not a question of if, just when his taking up with the Vikings becomes official.

At least everyone had to consider the hurt feelings of the Packers last summer. The Jets had no compunction in releasing Favre, along with the coach who stayed with him long after it became apparent his throwing arm was compromised.

It is the pre-hurt Favre who is appealing to Childress. This is the Favre who had 20 touchdown passes in the first 11 games of the season and not the one who had only two touchdown passes and nine interceptions in the last five games of the season.

“He obviously had a setback last year and was playing very well early,” Childress said on the Vikings’ flagship radio station this week. “If in fact he’s had that surgery, I’m anxious to see exactly what he has left in that cannon. Because he had a pretty good arm, as we know.”

The condition of Favre’s throwing arm is really the only consideration in this pseudo-drama, stoked in part by ESPN’s obsession with the quarterback whose decision to retire each offseason is as rash as his attempts to slip a pass between two defenders.

Favre begs to be psychologically deconstructed, the good old boy with a streak of diva in him.

Favre never fit with the Jets, possibly because he dressed in a private facility. He acted like one of the guys only during his made-for-television touchdown celebrations.

That burst of spontaneity, contrived or not, is said to reveal the little-boy enthusiasm in him. That endears him to millions, just not his teammates who know the other side of Favre.

Childress is willing to indulge Favre if the right arm checks out. If not, his unsatisfying option at quarterback is either Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels.

That is why Childress is in no hurry to rush Favre. That is the mood of the media, left to parse his comments, read tea leaves and push for a timetable.

Favre is waiting to heal from his surgery in order to test his arm on a Mississippi sandlot. That he underwent the surgery tells you his football spirit is willing. That Childress and Favre talked last week tells you an agreement of sorts has been reached.

Favre’s annual will-he, won’t-he, of-course-he-will affair is bringing out the haters, none more notable than Fran Tarkenton.

“I think it’s despicable,” the former quarterback said of Favre’s messy departure from Green Bay. “Here’s an organization that was loyal to him for 17, 18 years, provided stability of organization, provided players. It just wasn’t about Brett Favre. In this day and time, we have glorified the Brett Favres of the world so much [that] they think it’s about them. He goes to New York and bombs. He’s 39 years old. How would you like Ray Nitschke in his last year [playing for] the Vikings or I retire and go play for the Packers? I kind of hope it happens so he can fail.”

That is tough stuff - and not entirely fair.

Teams make pacts with all kinds in pursuit of victory, just as they did in Tarkenton’s NFL.

The 24/7 news cycle certainly contributes to the deification of players in a way that did not exist before the birth of ESPN. But NFL quarterbacks always have been celebrated.

“I think he has been a great, flamboyant quarterback,” Tarkenton said. “But he has made more stupid plays than any great quarterback that I’ve ever seen.”

That is the all-or-nothing proposition of Favre, which Childress accepts.

This is about the Vikings having a playoff chance, and Favre, if fully recovered, will give them that.

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