NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci is never a bad go-to guy on matters involving Brett Favre.
Mariucci, Favre’s former mentor and quarterback coach during his best seasons in Green Bay, was on hand Wednesday for the second day of the Favre era in Minnesota. Picking through Mariucci’s Favre archives for a few minutes following the Vikings’ indoor practice brought some insight as to what he saw and what might be expected in the near future.
Mariucci said he saw a clean practice from Favre, who didn’t show any ill effects from offseason surgery or his partially torn rotator cuff. Favre also executed all aspects of the offense seamlessly and was in total command while working mostly with the Vikings’ first team.
“What I noticed, just from the sideline, is that arm looks pretty darn good,” Mariucci said. “He’s got the attention of everybody right now. He certainly looks like he is ready and willing to do this. The level of practice really seemed to pick up when he was in there.”
Favre’s arm isn’t 100 percent, and he’s anxious to see how it responds after several days of full throwing in practice, according to Mariucci. But pushing and testing his arm will only bring Favre more confidence. Don’t forget that Favre has more than three full weeks before the season opener to prepare his arm, which already has improved dramatically over the last three weeks.
“That’s why he took so much time in evaluating the health of his shoulder,” Mariucci said. “He didn’t want to sign a contract for a lot of money and then find out too soon that his shoulder was not ready or not good enough and disappoint himself and everyone else. That’s why he said no, because he wasn’t able to fully commit and be sure he’s the guy he wants to be.”
The reality is that not even Favre knows the player he will be. He already has admitted as much. If he still has it, will he have it when he needs it?
No one knows how Favre will “fit” into the Vikings’ locker room. That remains to be seen. Favre’s relationship with his teammates — he’s a family man and nearly twice as old as some on the roster — very likely will be more professional and less as a social director. Some have suggested Favre’s timing — showing up after training camp closed — could create animosity. But very few 18-year veterans, let alone those who aren’t completely healed after offseason surgery, want any part of camp. Besides, winning cures all, and doubt usually comes with losses. All of this will be part of the process for the Vikings.
But we now know that Favre is committed, and he showed that by just showing up. Mariucci believes this will become clear to his new teammates.
“It’s obvious that he enjoys the game and wants to play and wants to win,” Mariucci said. “There’s no other reasons to come back. He doesn’t need another dollar. He doesn’t need to extend his record. He doesn’t need that. He wants to help them win, and guys appreciate that. He’s going to do his best to see that happen. He didn’t guarantee anything. All he guaranteed is that he’d give it his best shot. That’s all you can ask of a guy. … You know you’re going to get that from him.”
As for Favre’s debut, the common line of thinking is that he will either start or not play Friday night, so that he would only play behind the starting offensive line. Favre does want to play, and it sounds as though the coaching staff will make that decision tomorrow.
— Frank Tadych