NFC North reaction drips with Favreicism

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Regular blog readers are no doubt loving the fact that a Brett Favre story has surfaced during my annual trip to Detroit Lions camp for the second consecutive year. But while ignoring my near-constantly ringing cell phone, I stole a few minutes Tuesday afternoon with Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford -- who had an interesting response to initial reports that Favre won't play for the Vikings this season.

"I grew up watching him," Stafford said. "He's unbelievable. I kind of want him to come back because I want to play against him again. He got me twice last year. I want to see if I can get him before he gets out of here."

Stafford, still a relative youngster in the NFL, offered a straight answer to the question. But early reaction around the NFC North has been filled with the same kind of skepticism that we expressed earlier. My ESPNChicago.com colleague Jeff Dickerson checked in with this reaction from Bears linebacker Lance Briggs and tight end Desmond Clark:

Briggs: "I won't believe it until I see Tarvaris Jackson starting against us. If he's starting, we'll go from there. Either way, we still got a job to do."

Clark: "Right now, I don't believe any news that comes out about Favre until it's made official. If he does retire, Minnesota is still a good team. Of course, they're better with Brett Favre, but you look at all the parts they have there, they could still be a championship team without Brett Favre. They have a great running game. Their receivers stepped up last year, especially Sidney Rice. You look at their defense, they still have all the parts. They still may be looked at as the favorites in the conference without Brett Favre. I don't think it drops them down the rung too much."

In Green Bay, linebacker Nick Barnett said: (via Chris Jenkins of the Associated Press: "It's like believing in Santa Claus. You get gifts, but you ain't seen Santa Claus. So we don't know."

Barnett added (via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel): "We were going to do the same thing without him coming back or not. But do I believe it? I don't even know if I care enough to believe it or not to be honest. It's his career, he's got to do what he's got to do. But it doesn't change nothing for us. We're going to have the same goal whether it's Tarvaris, Jeffrey Dahmer or Norman Bates quarterbacking. We're still trying to do the same thing."

I can't imagine why he would think that.