GREEN BAY, Wis. -- And here, all this time, we thought Jared Allen, Ryan Longwell and Steve Hutchinson were teaming up to convince Brett Favre to come back to the Minnesota Vikings for one more season during their training-camp trip to Mississippi in 2010.
Turns out, only two of them -- Longwell and Hutchinson -- were recruiting the soon-to-be Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback. Allen, the team’s Pro Bowl defensive end, actually told Favre to stay retired.
Allen, appearing on former Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals linebacker A.J. Hawk’s podcast, told Hawk that when then-Vikings coach Brad Childress dispatched him, Longwell and Hutchinson to Favre’s 465-acre estate outside Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Allen ended up telling Favre not to come back for one more season.
And if anyone thought that perhaps Allen was joking -- he does tell Hawk at one point that he was simply using the trip “to get out of training camp for a few days” -- or engaging in some revisionist history, he wasn’t, according to Longwell, who for 11 of his 15 NFL seasons was teammates with Favre (nine in Green Bay, two in Minnesota).
“There was a lot said between the four of us in those 16 hours that we were down there,” Longwell said in a text message Friday. “That was for sure one of the subjects that came up. [It’s] 100 percent true.”
Favre had had a turn-back-the-clock season in 2009, beating the Packers twice -- he threw seven touchdown passes and no interceptions in the two games against his former team -- and leading the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game, which they lost to the eventual Super Bowl-champion New Orleans Saints in overtime after Favre’s interception late in regulation.
So, as he looked around Favre’s expansive property after he and his teammates arrived on team owner Zygi Wilf’s private jet, Allen advised Favre against a 2010 return.
“I was the one guy who told him, ‘Stay retired,'” Allen recounted to Hawk. “Hutch and Longwell put the pressure on him. I was like, ‘Listen, dude. It looks like you got it pretty good down here.’ His place is amazing. I’m like, ‘I’m going to be real honest with you. If I’m you, I stay retired.’”
As it turns out, Favre should have listened; the Vikings went 6-10 and Favre saw his NFL-record ironman streak end at 322 consecutive starts (including playoffs) when he suffered a concussion in a 40-14 home loss to Chicago in late December. The Packers, meanwhile, went on to win Super Bowl XLV, the team's first NFL title since Favre led the 1996 team to a Super Bowl XXXI victory.
“I’m like, ‘Don’t come back thinking you’ve got to prove something,’” Allen said. “’If you want to come back and have fun with us and try to win some football games, do it. If not, I might retire and move down here [with you].’”