BOURBONNAIS - Bears players admit the signing of Brett Favre improves the Vikings offense, but they also know he's not the same player who engineered 10 straight wins and fashioned an 18-2 record from 1994-2003 in the Chicago-Green Bay rivalry.
"I'm not scared, are you scared?" Bears linebacker Lance Briggs said. "Why would I be scared? I've played against him before."
As a rookie in 2003, Briggs returned a Favre interception 45 yards for a touchdown, and two years later he brought back a Favre pick 10 yards for another TD.
From 2004-07, the Bears defeated Favre and the Packers seven times in 10 games. In his last four seasons, including last year's fold-up fiasco with the Jets, Favre has been an average and mistake-prone quarterback, tossing almost as many interceptions 84) as TD passes (88). He's also been sacked 90 times during that time. And in Favre's last six games against the Bears, he threw 2 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns.
Bears defensive end Adewale Ogunleye has 601/2 sacks in the NFL, but he has never sacked Favre. Now Ogunleye has two more chances to get after the future Hall of Famer, as long as Favre doesn't retire again, and as long as they both stay healthy.
"For me," Ogunleye said, "I'm kind of excited that I get another crack at it."
A Vikings team with the reigning NFL rushing champion in Adrian Peterson and a three-time NFL MVP at quarterback is potentially dangerous. But not if the quarterback plays as Favre did down the stretch last season, when he threw 9 interceptions and just 2 TD passes in the final five games. The Jets went 1-4 in that stretch and missed the playoffs.
"Any quarterback with Adrian Peterson behind him is going to be pretty good," Ogunleye said. "(But) the Jets experiment didn't work well. So I'm not going to jump on anybody's bandwagon right now. Brett's a good quarterback. He was good in Green Bay, but we beat him in Green Bay. The whole experiment with the Jets didn't work last year either, so I'm not going to be saying, 'Oh my God, the Vikings are the team that we've got to watch.' We had to watch them before."
Favre will also have at his disposal some big-play weapons such as wide receiver Bernard Berrian. The former Bear had 48 catches for 964 yards and an NFL-best 20.1 yards per catch (among players with at least 33 receptions). And that was with Gus Frerotte and Tavaris Jackson throwing to him.
The Vikings added another game-breaker when they took Florida's Percy Harvin in the first round of the draft.
"There are definitely going to be a lot of weapons out there and plenty of people who can make plays when they have the ball in their hands," Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer said. "Green Bay last year did a lot of things on offense that are tough (to defend) and that you don't see every week. It sounds like Minnesota might be the same thing now."
But some players cautioned that there could be some backlash that accompanies Favre's arrival in Minnesota, coming as it has after everyone else on the team, including quarterbacks Sage Rosenfels and Jackson, have already been through the rigors of training camp. Favre was allowed to skip all that and still have the starting job handed to him by head coach Brad Childress.
"I wouldn't want to have that on our team," Hillenmeyer said, "but obviously Brett Favre is a special situation. You've got a guy like that, a future Hall of Famer, (who has) a chance to come in and contribute. (But) I think that is a tough situation, especially for some of those quarterbacks who have been working their butts off all camp."
And, with Favre, there's always the chance that he'll change his mind.
"I hope he changes his mind when he's (about) to throw the ball away, and he throws it into coverage," Briggs said. "But the bottom line is Brett Favre is a great quarterback, and the Vikings have a (heck) of a team over there."
|Collecting Favre souvenirs|