Brett Favre's last-second comebacks used to be the stuff of legend.
Now, they're punch lines.
The 39-year-old quarterback returned to the NFL yet again Tuesday, signing a one-year deal with Minnesota that in the minds of many elevates the Vikings to Super Bowl contenders. His decision came three weeks after he ended talk of a comeback with Minnesota on the eve of training camp, telling Minnesota coaches he planned to stay retired.
This is Favre's second un-retirement in 17 months, the first coming in a failed experiment with the New York Jets last season. According to various reports, the Vikings' deal will match the $12 million the Jets paid him.
Hours later, in his first practice, Favre showed some old Packers magic, completing eight of nine throws. And the one incompletion was the receiver's fault. Aside from a collision with Chester Taylor on a handoff, Favre looked completely comfortable and very capable -- though a tad grayer.
"The formations, protections and routes are the same" as they were with the Packers, Favre said. "Today I didn't miss a beat calling those plays."
He shouldn't have. Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell was Favre's position coach for three seasons in Green Bay.
After practice, Coach Brad Childress continued his tradition of having the new guy tell the team his name, hometown and something unique about himself.
Said the soon-to-be-40-year-old Favre, "I'm Brett Favre from Hattiesburg, Miss. And I am the only guy on this team born in the '60s."
Favre attributed his indecision to his health, not wanting to go through another season like last year, when a torn biceps muscle affected his throwing ability. He said off-season surgery revealed he had a partially torn rotator cuff, but surgeon James Andrews told him he could play with it because of calcification around the tear.
"That scared me," Favre said. "To say I was reluctant would be an understatement."
The comeback was set in motion by a Monday phone call from Childress to Favre. It was the first time they had spoken since before training camp.
The Vikings flew him to St. Paul on Tuesday morning on a private plane. A few hundred people, maybe a hundred of them media members, swarmed Viking Drive as Favre arrived riding shotgun in Childress' black Cadillac Escalade.
Fans found their way to the ticket lines too. The Vikings, who last season needed an extension to sell enough tickets to avert a blackout for a playoff game, sold 2,000 season tickets and 6,000 single-game tickets after Favre signed, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The news was a bit more sobering to Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels, who were competing for the team's starting quarterback job. They will now take a back seat to Favre.
"We knew all along that this was a possibility," Jackson said. "You can't always believe what you hear, especially on TV."
Rosenfels, who came to the Vikings this off-season in a trade with Houston, said he wasn't happy about the development but understands it.
"It's something that wasn't a total shock," Rosenfels told reporters. "Obviously this has been three months in the ongoing sort of thing. So for me personally, this wasn't what I was hoping for. I tried to get traded here and got traded here."
Meanwhile, news of the signing rippled throughout the league. In Green Bay, where Favre carved out a Hall of Fame-worthy career, a former teammate joked he's looking forward to seeing him in the uniform of the enemy.
"I think he's a great quarterback, a great guy, a great leader," said Packers linebacker Nick Barnett, noting that "they didn't let us hit" Favre in practices with Green Bay. "Would I like to hit him? Hell, yeah, I'd like to hit him."
They will get their first chance Oct. 5 when the Packers visit Minnesota for a Monday night game. Favre will step on Lambeau Field in Vikings gear Nov. 1.
"The bottom line is it's football," Favre said. "Once you step into the huddle, I don't look at the helmets. I look at the faces."
In San Diego, linebacker Shawne Merriman echoed the feelings of many.
"I'm a Brett Favre fan, but I think enough is enough," Merriman said. "And not because of his ordeal. More because the [Vikings are] getting ready for the season, everything is focusing. He's so big, he causes such a distraction, that he forces other guys on the team to answer questions about him.
"It's Favre. It's almost like when he's coming in he's parting the Red Sea. So when he comes in, the whole organization is going to change."
And that's what the Vikings are hoping.
Farmer reported from Los Angeles. Pompei reported from Eden Prairie, Minn.