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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Judd Zulgad

25 SKOL’s of Christmas: Brett Favre conducts revenge tour as a member of the Vikings

Welcome to the 25 SKOL’s of Christmas!

In a similar vein to how Freeform has done the 25 days of Christmas, we will look back at different moments in Vikings history to bring a little extra joy to you this holiday season.

It’s that simple. The holidays can be a trying time for some people and we want to put a smile on people’s faces by reminiscing about some truly joyous times in Vikings’ history.

On the sixth SKOL of Christmas, the Vikings gave to me: the signing of Brett Favre.

The once unthinkable possibility of Packers legend Brett Favre wearing purple began to gain steam in the summer of 2008, when the quarterback decided he wanted to abandon his plans to retire only to have Green Bay’s brass make it clear they were moving on to Aaron Rodgers.

Favre, who had announced his retirement in March 2008 after Green Bay lost to the Giants in the NFC title game, saw Minnesota as the ideal landing spot. The 38-year-old was familiar with Vikings coach Brad Childress and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who had been his position coach in Green Bay, and the Vikings’ ran the same West Coast system Favre had used for so many years.

It didn’t hurt that the Vikings played their games in the Metrodome and Favre was at the point of his career where playing in a climate-controlled environment seemed appealing. There was only one problem: There was no way Packers general manager Ted Thompson was going to allow Favre to join the Vikings. A trade was eventually worked out that sent Favre to the Jets.

But Favre, who wanted to stick it to the Packers and could do so by playing for one of their biggest rivals, was willing to be patient. After playing one season for the Jets, Favre again announced his retirement and New York gave up its rights to him. Soon thereafter the buzz about Favre playing for the Vikings started again. As one of the great vacillators in sports history, Favre spent the offseason leaving the Vikings and their fans guessing about his intentions.

He called Childress as training camp approached and said he didn’t healthy enough to play. That changed in mid-August when Favre again flip-flopped  — the Vikings had returned to their Eden Prairie, Minn., facility at that point after conducting training camp practices in Mankato — and what could be best described as the Favre Circus came to town.

Childress picked him up from a small airport in St. Paul and a local television station had its helicopter follow Childress’ SUV as it made the 19-minute drive to the Vikings’ facility. A crowd that featured a guy wearing a chicken suit gathered to welcome Favre, despite the limited room that existed along the street in front of Winter Park.

Vikings fans were ecstatic — Childress had the best team of his rocky four-plus-year tenure in Minnesota — and Packers fans were irate. If there was concern about Favre’s ability to throw after he dealt with a biceps injury in 2008, it quickly became clear he hadn’t lost his fastball.

Favre’s 32-yard laser pass to Greg Lewis in the back of the end zone with 2 seconds left in the fourth quarter in Week 3, gave the Vikings an improbable 27-24 victory against San Francisco and was an indication of just how good Favre would be in a 12-4 season that featured a run to the NFC title game in New Orleans.

Favre threw for 4,202 yards with 33 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. That was his fewest picks thrown in any season in which he was a full-time starter. He also beat the Packers twice, including in a memorable return to Lambeau Field on Nov. 1, 2009. Favre threw seven touchdowns and no interceptions in those two games and finished fourth in MVP voting.

A player who was reviled in Minnesota for 16 seasons was now the Vikings’ hope for a Super Bowl championship. That, of course, didn’t happen as the Vikings lost to the Saints in overtime in the NFC title game and Favre took a beating from a defense that was later found to have a bounty system in place.

The Vikings appeared to be driving for the winning points late in the game when Favre threw across his body on a pass intended for Sidney Rice with 19 seconds left in regulation. The Saints’ Tracy Porter picked it off. Packers fans had seen Favre win a Super Bowl but so often crush their dreams. Now, Vikings fans had experienced the same.

Favre, though, had proven his point. He could still play at a high level, he could beat the Packers and without him the Vikings wouldn’t have been close to winning the NFC title.

Favre returned for the 2010 season after being coaxed by teammates to end his latest attempt at retirement but that turned out to be a big mistake. The Vikings started the season 0-2, Childress was fired after a 31-3 loss to Green Bay in November and Favre, the ultimate ironman, played in only 13 games because of injury. The Vikings finished 6-10 and Favre was gone.

This time for good.

The Packers and Favre have long since mended fences. He had his No. 4 retired by Green Bay and was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame. The majority of football fans will remember Favre as a Packers legend. In Minnesota, it’s a little bit different.

Vikings fans will remember Favre as the guy who came so close to getting their team back to the Super Bowl while conducting one of the greatest revenge tours of all time.

Judd Zulgad is co-host of the Purple Daily Podcast and Mackey & Judd podcast at

Previous SKOL’s of Christmas:

Drafting Randy Moss
Vikings 1997 Wild Card Comeback
Jarius Wright Walks Off the Jets
Jared Allen traded to Vikings
Adrian Peterson Sets Rushing Record

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