Brett Favre said he figured the decision he made July 28 would be the end of it. He told the Vikings he wasn't prepared to come out of retirement, and that was that.
But then he got a phone call Monday from Vikings coach Brad Childress, and it all changed in an instant. Childress, who insisted at the time of Favre's initial decision that he would not revisit the situation, asked if Favre still wanted to come back. Favre said he did.
Within a day, the 39-year-old quarterback was in a Vikings uniform practicing with his new teammates. He is expected to start Friday night's preseason game against the Chiefs.
"Everyone I've talked to said if I were to go back, this is a perfect fit," Favre said Tuesday night at the team's headquarters in Eden Prairie, Minn., when he seemed at ease as he referred to Childress as "Chili.''
"They have a really good football team, a very good running game, and I hope from my standpoint I could offer some experience and leadership."
Helicopters followed as Childress drove Favre from the airport in his Escalade. Security guards stood on the top of the Vikings' facility. Fans screamed for Favre while they strained to see around blacked-out fences surrounding the practice, with some lying down trying to look under them. Hundreds lined the streets outside the facility.
"I wasn't going to believe it until I actually saw him walk in the building," linebacker Ben Leber said. "I didn't really believe it when they were following him in the helicopter. We were all joking around, 'This is just a decoy.' "
Favre said his only reservation about returning was his throwing arm. He had surgery in May to have the remainder of his torn biceps snipped, but doctors discovered a slight tear in his rotator cuff. Favre had probably played for some time with the tear.
"We all know there are no guarantees," said Favre, who retired after the 2007 season, only to return last August after being traded from Green Bay to the Jets. "My arm has felt pretty good, good enough to feel confident about making the throws I need to make. I just didn't want to look back. I didn't want to have to say 'what if.' "
ESPN reported his deal was worth $12 million this season and $13 million in 2010.
This story is virtually unprecedented in NFL history. Yes, Johnny Unitas lamely wore a lightning bolt, and Joe Montana visited Kansas City, and Joe Namath took an L.A. vacation, but none signed with an arch-rival with the hope of beating his old team twice on the way to the Super Bowl.
Favre said he wasn't motivated to return just to beat the Packers.
"I think both sides were wrong, but I have no ill feelings toward that," he said of his old team. "If it was about revenge, I'd have signed on the dotted line the first day. I'm in it for the right reasons."
Favre was defiant when asked about widespread criticism of his flip-flopping.
"Don't watch, you know?" he said. "My legacy, it's mine."
How do Green Bay fans feel? "No tears; I shed those when he left the Packers," Roberta Gherty said. "I even went out and bought a (Aaron) Rodgers jersey. I don't know what I'm going to do with my Favre jerseys now. Maybe I'll put them all up for sale."
Favre becomes the starter over incumbent Tarvaris Jackson, 26, and Sage Rosenfels, 31.
"It's not a good feeling, but you have to take it for what it's worth and try and get better from it," Jackson said.
Said Rosenfels: "Obviously this has been three months in the ongoing sort of thing. So for me personally, this wasn't what I was hoping for.''
The other Vikings quarterback, John David Booty, 24, quickly gave up his No. 4 to Favre.
"All I want to do is win," Favre said. "There's no substitute for playing on Sundays. That's what I'm here for."
Favre said his daughter, Breleigh, had remained neutral about him playing again until the news broke three weeks ago that he was going to stay retired.
"She started crying," Favre said. "Anybody that's got children — I can be chased by five defensive lineman and it doesn't scare me, but when my daughter cries, it softens me up. And she said, 'Daddy, I wanted you to go back and win one more Super Bowl.' And I said, 'Oh, why didn't you tell me before?' And she said, 'Well, I didn't want to make that decision for you.'
"It's amazing what you learn from your children. She said, 'Can you go back?' And I said, 'Well, it's too late.' So I found myself this morning tearing up as I brought her to school and she said, 'Daddy, it's going to be fine. You go up there and do what you've got to do. We'll be up there soon enough.' I think I made the right decision, I really do. Time will tell. All I can say is I'm going to do the best I can."