THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
Bob Ryan

Minny drama continues

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By Bob Ryan
Globe Columnist / November 1, 2010

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FOXBOROUGH — I got this one right. Brett Favre starts, but doesn’t finish. That was my pregame call. How about you?

We don’t know when or how this Favre thing will end, but even The Man himself is asking himself questions as to what exactly he’s doing with his Sundays and Mondays, now that he’s turned 41.

His day ended yesterday with 7:31 remaining in the fourth quarter of his team’s 28-18 loss to the Patriots when Myron Pryor, your standard-issue 21st century 310-pound defensive lineman, came roaring in unattended to meet Favre’s chin with his helmet in what, fortunately, was a perfectly legal hit.

The result was a chin laceration for Favre that required either eight (his count) or 10 (coach Brad Childress’s estimate) stitches, as well as conceivably a concussion.

Anyway, Favre was mulling the situation as he left the field on the back of the cart taking him to the locker room.

“I thought to myself for about three seconds, ‘What am I doing?’ ’’ Favre said. But that was enough self-examination for one day, apparently, because Favre quickly refocused on the central drive in his life.

“There’s nothing like competing,’’ he said. “But there’s nothing worse than losing.’’

Favre competed, and he competed, as he likes to put it, at a pretty high level. He was 22 for 32 for 259 yards, and he was surprisingly mobile. His lone interception was a completely freaky stroke of bad luck in the third quarter when the ball popped out of Percy Harvin’s hands as he was going down at the New England 26 for a 15-yard completion and straight up into the air for Devin McCourty to grab and return 37 yards. Favre was surprisingly mobile for a guy playing with two foot fractures. For 2 1/2 quarters it’s fair to say he was a better quarterback than Tom Brady.

“I thought he played pretty well,’’ said Childress, who spent portions of last Sunday night’s post-mortem following a loss to Green Bay decrying Favre’s inability to take proper care of the football.

He didn’t lose this game for the Vikings, a big preseason favorite who are now 2-5. But he didn’t win it, either. He made a lot of nice plays, but he didn’t make any big plays, such as the Improvisational Theatre 65-yard TD pass Brady threw to Brandon Tate in the third, a roll to the left complete with a spin move, a play so spectacular the old gunslinger was moved to pay homage.

“I couldn’t help but laugh about that one,’’ Favre said. “That was a heck of a play by Tom Brady. I’ve got to throw that one out there.’’

Even for Favre, this was a strange week. He limped off the podium last Sunday, and soon we were informed he had sustained, not one, but two foot fractures. But he’s Brett Favre, you know? He was able to make it to the practice field by Friday, and only the hopelessly naive were thinking that the celebrated consecutive game streak was actually in jeopardy. The only thing more naive would have been to think that it would be Childress’s call. Kim Jong-il will resign before a Vikings coach tells Brett Favre he can’t play in a football game.

But starting is one thing, and finishing is another.

Favre’s day ended as he was taking the team down the field, having moved the Vikings from the Minnesota 20 following a touchback. They were trailing, 21-10, with plenty of time for the zillionth comeback of his career. On third and goal at the 3, he threw an incompletion to Randy Moss in the end zone, a play on which Jonathan Wilhite drew an illegal contact penalty. But the massive Mr. Pryor hit him as he threw, and when Pryor got up, Favre was down, and he was bleeding from the chin. He was replaced by Tarvaris Jackson, who threw a 1-yard TD pass to fullback Naufahu Tahi.

Childress had more concerns than just Favre’s chin.

“There was a level of wooziness,’’ he said. “You don’t see that very often [with Favre]. He was a very good shade of white coming off to the side.’’

“I got hit very hard,’’ Favre said. “It was sore and bleeding.’’

He waved off the concussion possibility, however.

“I don’t want to make a big deal about it,’’ he said. “I remember enough — unfortunately. But I’ll be fine.’’

In other words, there will be no Favre will-he-or-won’t-he? drama this week. He assured one and all he will be calling signals against the Arizona Cardinals next Sunday.

“I know my body better than anyone,’’ he reminded us. “There have been plenty of times I should have been knocked out, but I wasn’t. I’ll be ready to play next week.’’

Childress knows what’s good for him, so he’s on board, as you might expect.

“He’s a tough guy,’’ said the coach, sticking to the script. “There’s a reason why he’s started — what? — [292] straight games.’’

Favre is larger than life, and certainly larger than his coach, and so it’s perfectly clear that the only way this streak will end is when an impaired Favre finally takes The Hit that no 41-year-old can survive. This guy is so determined to be Brett Favre that I might even buy into the idea that the $16 million he is making this season really is nothing more than an adjunct motivation to play.

He really is built differently than the average QB, and he is wired differently, too. It’s almost as if he is afraid to find out what life after football will bring, and he is willing to risk his health to avoid the dreaded day when he becomes a private citizen.

“Talk to me in 10 years, and I might feel differently,’’ he said. “Then again, I may not. Here I am, 20 years in and playing at a high level. Call it dumb. Call it hard-headed. Maybe all the above.’’

As a certain coach of our acquaintance would say, it is what it is. If it’s an autumn Sunday, Brett Favre is playing football.

Next Sunday: consecutive start No. 293. The man refuses to go away.

Bob Ryan is a Globe columnist and host of Globe 10.0 on Boston.com. He can be reached at ryan@globe.com.

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