So, Brett Favre has made up his mind now. Really. He's gonna play. His mind's made up. He's now a Minnesota Viking.
Well...maybe I get surprised, but I can't see how this works out well at all for Minnesota. Favre has had one good season lately (the year before last), but despite his "Iron Man" tendency to not miss starts, his physical effectiveness has gone down steadily, year by year, until last year he managed to lead the NFL in interceptions thrown. Passing accuracy and arm troubles generally aren't the kinds of problems that start to reverse themselves as quarterbacks with enormous amounts of mileage reach the age of 39 and their sixteenth or seventeenth season in the league. I'm thinking that a lot of eyes popped in the Midwest today, and the eyes that did the most popping were the defensive backs at Bears, Lions and Packers' training camps. They've all got to be salivating at the prospect of watching Favre for another year as he runs around and lobs grapefruit-like passes out of his refusal to accept that he just can't make the throws he could make ten years ago when he was already four years past his Super Bowl title.
What does Favre bring to the Vikings? At this point, I have no idea. Yes, he brings fierce competitiveness. But that's about it, I think. He's not a quarterback who is anywhere near the top of his game. He brings a larger-than-life persona that could well undermine the efforts of a relatively new coach. And he delays, by a year and maybe two, the Vikings' development of whoever they think their quarterback of the future is going to be. By bringing him in, it's clear that they've pretty much given up, rightly or wrongly, on Tarvaris Jackson. But with Favre there now, he takes up a valuable year or two while the Vikes have a pretty good defense in place and a hell of a running back. If Favre plays both the years on his contract, by the time he leaves the Vikings will again be in transition. As a "win now" type of move, signing Favre doesn't seem like the best idea in the world.
The Vikings were 10-6 last year, while Favre's Jets were 9-7. Now, I think that the Vikes are better than the Jets, so the question becomes: does Favre make the Vikings better? I'm just not sure that he does. Maybe one more win, for 11-5. I don't think that Favre makes the Vikes a team that can really contend with the conference's best teams (the Giants and Eagles). So: with Favre, I think the Vikings have put themselves in a tough spot. By going for the old veteran, they've committed themselves to a very narrow window of opportunity for winning, and they've done it with a guy who just doesn't seem like much of a winner anymore. I don't expect that this will backfire to the tune of a 4-12 season and the franchise in shambles, but I do think that this will translate to 10-6 for a couple of years and then some rebuilding once the current defense gets too old to be effective.
In short, while I'm not sure that Vikings fans will come to hate the Favre signing (it'll never come close to replacing the Herschel Walker trade in the Vikings' annals of poorly-considered personnel moves), I do think that in five years Vikes fans will look back on the Favre era much as Bills fans now look back on the Flutie era: a couple of pleasant and maddening years that didn't amount to much.