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Vikings corner: A diva in the front seat

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sports Bemidji, 56619

Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

On June 17, 1994, a sports legacy was officially ruined with the emergence of a white SUV on a low-speed chase down a Los Angeles freeway.

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On Aug. 18, 2009, another legacy reversed direction as a black SUV slowly made its way from the airport to Winter Park in Eden Prairie.

Both vehicles were followed by the nation; one was running from the law the other chasing another dream.

"I don't know how I will feel a year from now," said the old man from the black SUV. "But I didn't want to say 'what if?'"

That was back in August, and when Brett Favre actually decided to finish up his waffles, you could not have foreseen how important he would become to the offense. Sure, he'll win you a few games, but he'll never last the year.

When Brett turned 39 last year, as a New York Jet, there was talk of a NFL MVP award and a Super Bowl run.

The Jets were 8-3 and had just blown out Tennessee, their first loss in 11 games. Favre was named offensive player of the week twice in that time, the most during a single season in his career, but he lost complete control down the stretch and New York lost four of its last five games and missed the playoffs. Favre finished with a league-high 22 interceptions.

Now the only what if is: What if he never signed?

O.J. Simpson captivated the nation as a fallen star. The only player to rush for 2,000 yards in a 14-game season was now the only Heisman winner to get away with murder.

Brett Favre mesmerized the nation. The man who played like a kid started to make decisions as one. No other player has drawn more attention, first a media darling now a diva.

"I'm not going to lie to you," he said after the game on Sunday. "The only reason (I came back) was to get to Miami. I know that it goes hand-in-hand with how I play; how we all play obviously."

He was asked if he needed to win a playoff game to justify the season. His answer revolved around himself, but ultimately embraced the team.

"I go back to what Mike Holmgren told me a long time ago, he said 'If you play well we have a chance to win. If you don't play well more than likely we don't win.'"

The closer you look the more selfish it becomes. Brett Favre chose the Vikings as his best option to win the Super Bowl; we're just along for the ride.

It doesn't matter though, as long as he wins. Imagine the praise Jeff George would have received if he hadn't quit so often. The Vikings are using Brett just as much as he's using them.

Favre's role has shifted, though. Originally Minnesota needed a smart quarterback, one who would manage the game, hand off the football and not make mistakes. The egotistical self-centered diva has become a player-coach, one who leads his team to victory in the locker room and on the field.

Favre wants to win the same way George did, but he understands his role as mentor. Every player on the team points to his leadership and importance.

Now 40, Brett continues to set records. He was named offensive player of the week for the third time this year, a career first, and he holds or shares numerous team records including most 300-yard games in a season and the lowest interception percentage.

Brett's role on this team has become more important than most had anticipated or even desired, but if he fails in the playoffs it will all be forgotten. No one will remember that the team was there because of him, they'll only remember the diva in the front seat.

TJ Melcher can be heard on KBUN AM-1450.

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