The team across the line of scrimmage is a faceless opponent.
It means nothing special to me.
We have heard it many times before. We have believed it — never.
When a player is sent packing by a team he has sweat and bled for, and then has an opportunity to play that team, there always is an added element of motivation.
So you know deep down inside, Brett Favre is absolutely, positively desperate to not only beat the Packers Monday, but to show them that they were dead wrong for ever thinking they would be better without him.
He wants to show Ted Thompson. He wants to show Mike McCarthy. He wants to be better than Aaron Rodgers. He wants to silence the people of Wisconsin who once loved him but now despise him.
And even if he doesn’t, he should tell himself he does for motivational purposes.
“I’ve played a lot of these games against teams that no longer needed my services,” said former Vikings quarterback and current Minnesota resident Rich Gannon, a broadcaster with CBS. “Without question, you get up for these games in a big way. If it means extra preparation, extra film work, whatever. You want to go out there and play your absolute best football.”
Gannon, who also played for the Redskins, Chiefs and Raiders, had some of his best and most memorable games when he was playing against his former teams. It is not difficult to envision Favre having a scrapbook kind of night on Monday.
Of course, it is also possible that a player’s lust for revenge will work against him — he’ll try to do too much or lose his focus.
Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell told me he planned on talking with Favre about keeping the game in proper perspective. What he wanted to stress to his quarterback was that just knowing the game plan and how the Packers would try to defend the Vikings offense was enough for him to worry about.
“If you are in that quarterback room with him, you have to talk about it,” Gannon said. “He does have a track record, particularly when they get behind in games. He’s a guy that can be impatient at times. He’s a risk taker. You have to get a handle on that, monitor that situation and impress on him to stay within the progressions, trust the system.”
While acknowledging Favre is an emotional player, Bevell, who was Favre’s quarterbacks coach in Green Bay, said he does not believe Favre will try to do too much against his former team.
The beauty in Favre’s performance in 2009 has been in its simplicity. Favre seems to realize how the Vikings are built to win games, and exactly what they need — and don’t need — from him. In other words, he has not tried to win games all by himself. It may be harder for him to keep that mindset Monday.
“He understands what type of team we have both offensively and defensively and what we need to get done, when we need to take a chance and when we don’t,” Bevell said. “I think he’s playing very well right now.”
And no one will be surprised if that trend continues in the coming week.
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