EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Here's an interesting question now that Brett Favre has overtly connected his recent inaccuracy to the onset of elbow tendinitis: Who would make the decision to pull him from the lineup if it continues to impact his performance?
With most players, the issue wouldn't be relevant. NFL coaches routinely make lineup and personnel changes, usually with an iron fist and with little or no input from players. But Favre's streak of 289 consecutive games played, as well as the subjective nature of this injury, puts the Vikings in a potentially awkward situation.
Let's backtrack a bit. Favre said Monday night that he wouldn't use tendinitis as an excuse after completing only 14 of 34 passes in a 29-20 loss to the New York Jets. By Wednesday, however, he was willing to state the obvious: "You're not going to make every throw," he said, "but I would have made some of those throws [if the elbow was healthy]." He said he began feeling pain in the arm during the fourth quarter of the game.
Rest is the only cure for the condition, and Favre did not practice Wednesday. Asked if he would consider taking a game off, Favre said: "Sure." But let's be real for a moment. Would a player who hasn't missed a game since 1992 actually volunteer to step aside? More importantly: Should it be his call? Or will it be left to coach Brad Childress, who came under heavy scrutiny late last season for considering an in-game change, to make that decision?
Many moons ago, I covered the Baltimore Orioles at the end of Cal Ripken's streak of consecutive games played. None of his managers, even the notoriously strong-willed Davey Johnson, was willing to halt history. Ultimately, the streak ended on the final day of the 1998 season, when Ripken told then-manager Ray Miller that he was ready.
Wednesday, I asked Favre how he thought the question should be managed. Should he instigate a change?
"That would probably see maybe a little more logical," he said, "that [after] 20 years and having played through a lot of things. ... Unless you can't even throw a spiral, and they say, 'Alright Brett, I know you want to play, [but] I want to do right for the team.'
"I don't know for sure in answering that question, but I would think Brad and [offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell] would trust in me if I felt like [I could still play]. ... [If it's] one or two throws a game, you can say OK. But if I felt like there is more than that on a consistent basis where, 'Boy, he [usually] makes that throw,' I should be able to address that with them. And I believe I would."
At this point, it's a non-issue. In fact, Childress has consistently refused to blame the condition for any poor throws. He noted that Favre grabbed his elbow several times during Monday night's game, but called it a "tick" rather than a sign of discomfort.
"I didn't see a funny motion," Childress said. "I didn't see any kind of clutching motion or anything like that. I know he may have repositioned his brace on his elbow and went to it a couple times. We used to think that Donovan [McNabb] had something wrong [when he played for the Philadelphia Eagles]. He used to bend over like his stomach hurt, like he was being poked. It was just kind of a tick, if you will, that different people have."
Childress said that he is "always taking in information and taking in what's best for the greater good." Will the greater good ever be reached by giving Favre time off to rest his elbow? The better question is this: Will Favre ever let that happen?