Vikes fans: Ready to sell their souls for Super Bowl?
The potentially oddest and most weird season will be underway within the month for the Minnesota Vikings, who are once again making some big offseason noise.
Last offseason, it was the big trade of All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen and his annual double-digit sacks.
Needless to say, the Vikes hit the jackpot with that move, as Allen earned another All-Pro bid with 14.5 sacks.
It was gold in that the Vikes have been missing an elite talent like Allen at defensive end since Chris Doleman departed via a trade to Atlanta.
But this year's pursuit of quarterback Brett Favre has easily overshadowed any move made in the NFL this season -- and for good reason.
On face value if Favre does sign with the Vikings -- which has been a situation as fluid as Niagara Falls -- it almost makes Viking fans feel dirty.
Favre has easily been the Vikings' biggest foe, playing on Minnesota's most-hated rival in Green Bay.
There has not been an opponent in the history of the Vikings that has drawn more ire or been more despised than Favre has.
From his inner-game rivalries with Viking defensive lineman John Randle, to his last-second overtime Hail Mary toss in the rain at Lambeau Field which made Chris Dishman look like an amateur, to the nauseating man-love he drew from sports announcers and referees -- Favre was the official anti-Viking.
Cheering for Favre almost feels like pulling for your wife/girlfriend's ex-boyfriend to actually score with her at the bar.
It doesn't feel right.
But after about two to three months of self-realization that Favre is 95 percent sure to be a Viking, one needs to look through that haze of hatred.
The only question Viking fans need to ask themselves is, if Favre never played for the Packers, and he was available now -- would he make your favorite team a better one?
Again, many factors come into play to answer this question, and in the end, that answer is "yes."
But there are more some questions that will need to be resolved before a Favre signing ends up like the Allen trade.
The most obvious one is whether his shoulder completely healed. After reading the countless rumors and the fact the Vikes have sent their trainer to Mississippi twice now, the answer sounds like it should be.
Favre actually had surgery on his shoulder, something he never had in the past. That right there is evidence he is serious about a comeback and resuming his Hall of Fame career.
Assuming he's in good physical shape, the next question that needs answering will be his mental condition.
Favre will turn 40 early in the regular season: He needs to accept that he is not the quarterback he was 10 -- or even three -- years ago.
The Vikings, however, are not in need of an elite quarterback, but one who can make plays in crucial situations and one who can manage games.
Actually, Favre's interception numbers say that he's the opposite of a game manager. But he does make plays to make up for those picks.
Using last year's numbers, when he was with New York, he posted 10 out of 11 games where he threw for over 65 percent in passing.
After his shoulder injury occurred, for the final five games, his highest completion percentage was 64.5, while the remaining four, he didn't crack 60 percent.
In his first 11 games, he had a touchdown to interception ratio of 20-13.
His final five was 2-9.
So, obviously, the injury affected him.
If Favre's ego can also accept that he isn't the focal point of the offense and he doesn't have to carry the team to wins like he did in the past, he can succeed this season.
For one, he won't be asked to pass 522 times like last year, meaning his interception numbers should go down.
Also, he does add a legit two-minute offense threat, something none of the Vikes' QB's have done.
The Vikes' QB numbers were not too impressive, with a 22-17 TD-to-INT ratio for a 59.1 passing percentage, and they still finished 10-6.
The offense is a run first one, with the NFL's leading rusher, Adrian Peterson running behind a very effective offensive line.
He busted out for 1,760 yards for a 4.8 yard per carry average.
That was against defenses stacking the box with eight to nine guys.
Favre's presence alone will force defenses to play the Vikes straight up.
Jets' running back Thomas Jones had a break out season with Favre at the helm, with 1,312 yards rushing, a 4.5 yards per carry average and 13 touchdowns.
Jones is not close to Peterson.
That fact, in the end, could be Favre's biggest contribution -- making defenses respect the passing game, thus giving Peterson more room to roam, which is a dangerous thought.
The other part of the equation is head coach Brad Childress.
In his first three years, his offensive scheme was very plain and very vanilla.
If Favre is his signal-caller, however, fans can now see if that boring playcalling was due to inept quarterback play -- or just Childress being, well, inept himself.
Favre will have some good weapons to work with in the passing attack. Bernard Berrian -- another NFC North rival pickup from Chicago -- had his best season with 964 yards on 48 catches and seven touchdowns.
Draft pick Percy Harvin has potential of being a very explosive player, who could have a heyday on Sundays with the yards after catch stat.
That fits in perfectly with the West Coast Offense, of which, incidentally, Favre has proven to be the king.
He will hopefully be watching a lot of three-and-outs with the top 10 NFL defense the Vikes employ, as well.
Again, if Favre can keep his ego in check, play like a quarterback helping to win the game and not trying to win by himself, this Bizarro World experiment could work.
There are negatives, such as whether Favre can stay healthy for the regular season and in the playoffs.
Is his purpose of coming back to play with one of the Packer's biggest rivals to stick it to general manager Ted Thompson, or wanting to come in to give it one last shot with a legitimate Super Bowl contender -- with all the pieces potentially in place besides quarterback?
If his motivation is only for Oct. 5 and Nov. 1 -- the two games versus Green Bay -- the season for the Vikes could be a wasted one.
He needs to be focused on playing the other 12 teams, as well.
The key stats will be a healthy completion percentage, low attempts per game (around 20-25 per) and the TD-to-INT ratio.
And of course, games played.
Which brings another point -- if he does get injured, will he end his consecutive start streak and bench himself?
Playing hurt is fine -- playing injured like he was in New York last year is not.
Childress will not pull the plug on Favre if he thinks he's hurt, just because of the streak.
Favre will have to man up and bench himself if he feels he can't contribute.
The Vikes do have a good backup in Sage Rosenfels, who can be an effective starter for two to three weeks.
But if Favre plays injured, the end result will be similar to the Jets' crumbling at the end of the 2008 season, where they lost four of their last five.
Keeping his attempts down, with Peterson carrying the ball, will also keep wear and tear off the balding tires.
Yes, probably the most gut-wrenching negative aspect is the fact he was an antagonizer of Viking fans for 16 years.
But that fact doesn't mean a thing between the lines.
With the way the QB situation has been in Minnesota for a long time, Favre is the best solution currently available.
Add to that the fact that all those purple No. 4 jerseys will be the best tool for antagonizing our rival fans to the east...which can help alleviate some of those betraying feelings Vikes' fans will have when cheering for Favre on Sundays.
So, in the end, selling your NFL soul for a Super Bowl could be well worth it.