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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Zulgad: Favre’s imperfections make him a perfect Hall of Famer

By Judd Zulgad

The Vikings were in the midst of what appeared to be a magical 2009 season, when a friend enthusiastically mentioned Brad Childress’ team might be able to finally deliver a Super Bowl championship to Minnesota.

This was based largely on the fact that 40-year-old Brett Favre, the guy once despised in these parts for being a member of the Green Bay Pakcers, was putting together an MVP-type of season in his first year in Purple.

Through the haze of a few beers, my reaction was harsh and immediate: “He will break your heart.”

This conversation came in November.

The Vikings were 7-1 at the time, Favre had just beaten the Packers, and the Vikings were en route to a 12-4 finish. Yet, there was hesitation. My line about Favre hadn’t been said with any malice, rather a feeling of familiarity.

Rewind six years from the evening of that conversation.

Star Tribune sports editor Glen Crevier had assigned me to cover the Green Bay Packers in 2003 to try to get my subscribers in western Wisconsin and because so many Packers fans reside in the Twin Cities.

That season was rather unremarkable until the evening of Dec. 21. With two games left on the schedule, the Packers arrived in the Bay Area for the penultimate game of the season on a Monday night against the Oakland Raiders.

The Packers were staying in a hotel in Berkeley and I was watching the Sunday afternoon games when news began to surface that Favre’s father, Irv, had passed away because of either a stroke or a heart attack.

We would later find out that Favre had been out golfing with his buddies Ryan Longwell and Doug Pederson, when Favre’s wife, Deanna, had attempted to call her husband’s cell phone to deliver the sad news. Brett did not answer. Deanna then called Pederson’s cell and it was Pederson who picked up and handed the phone to his buddy.

No one would have faulted Favre if he had boarded a plane to Mississippi and retuned home. Only he had no intention of leaving. At a team meeting that night, Favre told his teammates how much his father and football meant to him.

The next night remains the most remarkable regular-season sporting event I will ever cover. It started off with one of the most obnoxious fan bases in sports, those in the Black Hole at the Oakland Coliseum, cheering for Favre and shouting their encouragement. (This just doesn’t happen.)

That was forgotten in the first quarter when an aging tight end, Wesley Walls, made a 22-yard touchdown catch that he probably had no business making. When Javon Walker outdueled Raiders defenders to make a remarkable 43-yard touchdown reception to put the Packers up 24-7 in the second quarter, you knew this was something special.

Final: Packers 41, Raiders 7.

A week later, the Packers destroyed the Denver Broncos, 31-3, at Lambeau Field but it appeared their season would come to an end. That was until Josh McCown completed a 28-yard pass to Nathan Poole on fourth-and-25 with no time left on the clock in Arizona, lifting the Cardinals to an 18-17 victory over the Vikings and knocking Minnesota out of the playoffs.

It was after that game that Favre admitted there might be something special going on. That was followed by the Packers’ overtime victory over Seattle, setting up a playoff game in Philadelphia. When Green Bay took a 14-0 lead on Favre’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Robert Ferguson, the assumption was that nothing could stop this team from going to the Super Bowl.

But as great as Favre had played in the week after his father’s death, it wasn’t enough. To this day, I will never understand what was going through Favre’s mind as he lofted a pass into the air in overtime from the Green Bay 32. It was picked off by the Eagles’ Brian Dawkins and set up a 31-yard game-winning field goal.

Four years later, Favre would throw another impossible-to-explain interception in overtime of the NFC title game against the New York Giants.

Thus, the thought was triggered: “He will break your heart.”

And so as the Vikings moved down the field late in the fourth quarter of the 2009 NFC title game in the New Orleans Superdome, the thought stuck in my head. The Vikings were approaching field-goal range, and just before the 12-men in the huddle penalty, colleague Chip Scoggins leaned over and said, “They are going to the Super Bowl.”

My response: “Just wait.”

Shortly thereafter, a hobbled Favre attempted to force the ball into the middle for his favorite target, Sidney Rice, and Saints cornerback Tracy Porter picked it off to send the game into overtime and set up New Orleans’ eventual victory.

Favre had done it again.

He easily could have been MVP of the NFL in 2009, but when it mattered most he thought he attempted to make a pass that wasn’t there.

According to reports, it took the selection committee either six or nine seconds to make Favre a first-ballot Hall of Famer on Saturday. I’m surprised it took that long.

What will be celebrated in the coming months is Favre’s greatness. The Super Bowl he won with the Packers, the mind-boggling number of consecutive starts, the injuries he played through to keep that streak alive and the cannon for an arm that led to so many passing records.

But the thing that makes Favre a Hall of Famer to me is that fact that that his imperfections made him so damn perfect. On and off the field, this man was unbelievably flawed and, thus, always made things interesting.

Covering and watching Favre was a pleasure because he combined excellence with the fact that you never knew what you would get. In the end, he would always flash that devilish grin.

What often makes sports boring these days is the fact the participants are far too predictable. Favre’s unpredictably might have made him maddening but it also is one reason he is headed to Canton.

The post Zulgad: Favre’s imperfections make him a perfect Hall of Famer appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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