Judd and I had an opportunity this morning to watch Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and wide receiver great Jerry Rice work out with a group of NFL players at the Gophers football facility.
Fitzgerald has invited a number of NFL players to the Twin Cities to train, including Greg Jennings, Brandon Marshall, Michael Clayton, Antrel Rolle, Matt Spaeth and James Laurinaitis — all of whom were at Wednesday’s workout. Quarterbacks Tony Romo and Joe Flacco are expected to be here next week.
We spoke to Rice about Brett Favre’s expected to return to play for the Vikings this season. Rice said he applauds Favre’s desire to continue to play, but he questioned whether it is the best move for the Vikings, saying “this could really backfire.”
Here is what Rice said:
What are your thoughts on Favre’s likely return?
Rice: “You have two quarterbacks [Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels] who don’t know exactly what is going to happen. All of a sudden these two guys thought they were going to be competing. To be honest with you, I thought Tarvaris would be the starting guy this year. I’ve watched him off and on. The most important thing for him is the consistency. He shows that at times ‘OK, I can do this.’ I think he was moving in the right direction, making progress. Now you have this saga, and everybody is sitting back wondering what is going to happen.”
What do you think the expectations should be with Favre? He’s going to be 40 and is coming off arm surgery.
Rice: “In New York, you hear about what happened, and it was not very good. I think Brett showed some great flashes last year. Did some good things. But then towards the end he didn’t play as well. If they feel like bringing him in is going to get them to the next level, I think they should. But to be honest with you, I think the two guys with the team right now should be the two guys that they should be focusing on.”
You don’t sound too convinced that Favre will play at a high level for the whole season.
Rice: “I really don’t. Brett is a competitor. But I know towards the latter part of my career, even though I still wanted to be out on that football field, it was like things became a little bit more difficult. But my job was different. It consisted of a lot of running and stuff like that. With Brett, the thing for him is dropping back, planting himself and throwing the ball downfield so it might be a little bit different for him. But he’s a competitor. I think if he still wants to play, I think he should. But I really thought this team would be moving and looking down the road instead of trying to look for the one-year miracle.”
How hard is that for guys like yourself and Brett to walk away from it?
Rice: “It’s hard. It’s hard because you love the game. I was listening to some guys doing commentary the other day. If you have other things going on in your life and you have other businesses going on, I think then you have other things you can focus on. But if it’s just football and that’s it … and I think with Brett right now, he’s been so in love with the game and he still wants to play. I tip my hat to him for going out there and giving it everything he can give it, but I don’t know if it’s going to be a good year.’
What happens if he does struggle or is not healthy with a team that is built to win now?
Rice: ”Then everything backfires. You’ve got a major problem. Also you have to look at the scenario that happened in New York. If he pretty much distances himself completely from the players, then all of a sudden you’re going to divide the players because a lot of the players are going to say, ‘Hey, Tarvaris Jackson should be in here or Sage.’ You don’t want this to divide the team. So this could really backfire.”