Welcome back, Brett and Brady.
The two NFL star quarterbacks couldn’t have had more dissimilar offseasons. Or 2008 seasons, for that matter.
Brett Favre went from New York Jets retiree to eagerly sought employee of the Minnesota Vikings. For most of the summer, Favre either spurned offers from Vikings coach Brad Childress to climb aboard, or had a clandestine arrangement to eventually join the team once his arm felt somewhat sound – or training camp was about to end.
Tom Brady spent hours and hours rehabbing his left knee after tearing ligaments in the season opener last September. There was no question where he would be playing once he recovered, and little drama surrounding his whereabouts or his preparation once the New England Patriots reported to camp.
Today, Favre makes his true debut in purple – gnaw on that one, Cheeseheads – when the Vikings visit Cleveland and the man who coached Favre with the Jets, Eric Mangini. New York fired Mangini, who immediately was scooped up by the Browns, and the Jets released the 39-year-old Favre, setting up his courtship in Minnesota.
If Favre comes anywhere close to the form that’s made him the NFL career passing leader, and avoids the sore arm and poor decisions that wrecked the Jets late last season, the Vikings will be a fashionable pick for Super Bowl contention. Their All-Pro running back, Adrian Peterson, has ramped up the optimism.
“I feel like we’re definitely jelling,” Peterson said. “I feel like we’re there, but there’s always room to improve. We’ve still got some polishing. Just shine it up and buff it up a little bit and I think we’ll be OK.”
The Patriots expect to be a lot more than OK with Brady at the controls again. During the preseason, he looked sharp and focused – how often has the 2007 league MVP look anything but? When he leads New England against visiting Buffalo on Monday night, it will be the most anticipated return to the NFL by a quarterback since, well, the previous day in Cleveland.
“Personally, I’m excited like all the guys are excited,” Brady said. “I’ve played a lot of games, so it’s not like it’s the first game of my rookie season, that type of excitement. I think there’s just an excitement for a new season and to see what kind of team we have and to see what kind of mental toughness we have and what kind of character we have. We’re going to be faced with plenty of adversity this year and I want to see how we respond to that.”
While Brady returns, Buffalo unveils Terrell Owens. The wide receiver, who was cut by Dallas earlier this year, could be the focal point of the Bills’ offense. In the preseason, that offense was so invisible that coordinator Turk Schonert was canned and replaced by Alex Van Pelt.
“This is going to be a little bit of a transition for us,” said Owens, bothered in the preseason by a sprained toe. “We have to take accountability, we have to go out there and jell with one another and go out there and play.”
Ben Roethlisberger’s 20th career comeback led the defending champion Pittsburgh Steelers to 13-10 win over the Tennessee Titans in overtime in the season opener Thursday night.