Even before the 2009-2010 NFL season ended, the Minnesota Vikings understood their 2010 predicament at quarterback: if Brett Favre opted to return, he would be doing so on his terms. Those terms clearly included reporting later than others.
Given the difference that Favre made to the Vikings in 2009-2010 and the Vikings' failure to develop a backup to their aging starter, Minnesota was handcuffed, being forced to accept Favre's terms for returning. Until now, that was fine. No longer.
As the Vikings prepare for the second of their four pre-season games, Favre has officially over-extended even the most courteous and generous of Vikings' allowances for his absence from the team. Were the quarterback's absence merely about his ability to mesh with the team and perform at a high level upon his return, Favre's continuing absence would be a non-issue. But, as Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, Adrian Peterson, and others have at least strongly indicated, Favre's presence is now required to right a ship that could slip sideways quickly, if it has not already done so.
Though the Vikings are publicly saying what they need to say to maintain a semblance of team unity, the evidence continues to mount that key players on the team are disenchanted with the special dispensation that Favre is receiving. And if that truly is part of the reason that Harvin, Rice, and Peterson have acted contrary to the standards pertaining to the establishment of team cohesion, the situation is only likely to worsen as the season nears and Favre continues to remain absent, particularly if rumors of Favre's request for additional money this year prove out.
The solution is simple and requires little more of Favre than he currently is providing. All that is required is for Favre to be in attendance at all Vikings' team functions beginning this week. He need not play. He need not dress. He need not speak to reporters. But he does need to be present to demonstrate that he is on board with this year's plan and to meet any challenges from young teammates head on.
A positive omen toward the Vikings' achieving such a commitment from Favre could well be in the most unlikely form--the performance of the Vikings' quarterbacks in Saturday's first pre-season game. Although Jackson looked about the same as ever in very limited playing time, he certainly looked capable of being no worse than a backup on a contending team. And Sage Rosenfels looked every bit the competent starter. Even Joe Webb looked formidable and worth retaining.
All of that puts pressure on Favre to make a decision sooner rather than later. Added to the slow if also noticeable disintegration of team unity, this week marks both an important point for Favre and for the Vikings. For if Favre fails to return this week, the Vikings might well be faced with the very difficult decision of whether to cut ties with their best quarterback.
Up Next: Parlaying Unneeded Depth.