Ever since Ed Werder and Chris Mortensen reported last Sunday the improbable story that the Vikings had imposed a deadline on Brett Favre, everybody at ESPN has fallen into line behind their co-workers. And this, even as Werder inexplicably changed their story and Brad Childress denied the rumor entirely.
NFL Live has become the Everybody Hates Brad show. You'd think Childress had sold atomic secrets to the Russians from how Mark Schleretz and Marcellus Wiley criticize the guy. Schleretz talks as if Childress has sent the entire Viking team into a deep depression. Wiley uses the term "third-strike" like the Coach is a recidivist felon.
Even Mike Golic has gotten into the act, feigning astonishment that Childress would not concede certain knowledge of Favre having shoulder surgery. I'd have thought Golic understood the concept of confidentiality, or at least respect for a friend's privacy.
Childress' coyness is not all that different from the confidentiality Werder and Mortenson continue to honor per their "sources."
Whose story is more believable?
Weder and Mortensen base their Sunday report on anonymous "sources," having altered their story on Tuesday. They initially claimed the Vikings demanded a Favre decision by Friday, then changed it to a required OTA on that Tuesday and "suspended pursuit."
Childress and the Vikings have throughout this Favre drama been consistent in their refusal to impose a deadline on the retired quarterback. To impose a deadline now, given how Favre (it is believed) is in mid-recovery from surgery and not under contract, makes no good sense whatsoever.
ESPN's own John Clayton has long talked of Favre's great disdain for springtime OTAs (like most NFL veterans). The Vikings have long been aware of his feelings which may explain their apparent acceptance of such a late surgery date coinciding with OTAs.
And does anyone really believe the Viking players (apart from Tavaris and Sage) need to know who their quarterback is before they begin their summer vacations? They're grown men, most of whom are happy just to have job in the NFL.
What the Viking players want most is a proven leader: enter Brett Favre. I think Mark Schleretz has been hanging around the high melo-drama of Guiding Light way too long, although I'm sorry to see it's going off the air in the fall (classy soap).
I believe Brad Childress. I don't believe ESPN's anonymous "sources."
There should be a sign hanging over the entrance to the ESPN cafeteria: Don't ever go against the Family.