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Published: Friday, 7/18/2008

Vikings mum about Favre allegations

ASSOCIATED PRESS

MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Vikings took a different stance yesterday in what has become the story of the summer in the NFL.

They decided NOT to talk about Brett Favre.

The Vikings said yesterday they would not comment on allegations by the Green Bay Packers that they made inappropriate contact with Favre before or during the three-time MVP's effort to un-retire.

"The Vikings are not commenting on the issue. These types of matters are handled by the league," said a statement read by a team spokesman.

The Favre saga has overridden everything else going on in the NFL, turning the NFL offseason into a one-story league. Another chapter was added Wednesday night when a person familiar with the Packers' complaint told the Associated Press that Green Bay has filed tampering charges against the Vikings.

The person, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said Packers officials believe Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell had discussions with Favre that would violate league rules. Presumably, such discussions would include the possibility of Favre leaving the Packers for their NFC North rivals in Minnesota.

"They feel like Favre had something [in place], and that's why he was so anxious to get his release all of a sudden," the person said.

Favre and Bevell are friends going back to Bevell's days as an assistant in Green Bay. Favre retired in March, but has since said that he wants to return, which has led to a messy back-and-forth with Packers GM Ted Thompson.

The Packers told the AP that they were ready to welcome Favre back to the team later in March when Favre expressed reservations about his decision to retire, only to be assured by the quarterback that he was finished.

Favre has said that he felt pressured by the Packers to retire and now has been told that if he returns to Green Bay, he wouldn't necessarily get back the starting job.

Minnesota was immediately mentioned as a possible destination for Favre's relocation. With a veteran defense and a powerful running game, inexperienced quarterback Tarvaris Jackson appears to be one of the few question marks for a team looking rise to contender status in the NFC.

The allegations have turned up the heat on what was already one of the most intense rivalries in the game.

Vikings coach Brad Childress called the situation a "soap opera," and said Tuesday that it has been interesting to watch but he remained committed to going forward with Jackson as his starting quarterback.

But the Packers think the Vikings have had other ideas since Favre held a tearful retirement press conference on March 6.

The team told the league that it believes an investigation of phone records will show more than "normal contact" between Favre and Bevell, even before he formally asked for his release to play for another team.

Bevell and Favre became close friends during Bevell's three years as quarterbacks coach with the Packers from 2003-05. The two kept in contact after Bevell left to become the offensive coordinator of the Vikings.

Bevell was not available to comment and neither were any other Vikings officials.

On the surface, the allegations would appear to be difficult for the Packers to prove using phone records alone. But the NFL has been increasingly diligent in recent years in enforcing its tampering rules.

The San Francisco 49ers were punished this year - forced to forfeit their fifth-round draft pick and swap third-rounders with the Bears in the April draft - after being found guilty of improperly contacting linebacker Lance Briggs' agent while Briggs was still under contract with Chicago in 2007.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league only comments on tampering cases if there is some disciplinary action to

announce.

MILWAUKEE - For Willie Davis, it's a sad time to be a Green Bay Packer. The franchise is caught in a feud with Brett Favre, and there aren't any obvious solutions.

In other words, the Hall of Fame defensive end is a lot like an emerging majority of Packers fans - respectful of Favre's iconic status, but understanding of the team's need to move on.

"It is a bit of sadness," Davis said. "And it's a bit of sadness because I know how much of a burden this places on everybody."

Davis, an emeritus member of the Packers' board of directors, played for Green Bay from 1960-1969 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981. From his own experience, he knows how hard it can be for a player to know when to retire.

But he hasn't quite seen anything quite like this.

"It's not only a surprise to me," Davis said. "I cannot believe the magnitude of this thing."

Now Davis' biggest hope is that the situation doesn't evolve into some sort of training-camp showdown between Favre and his heir apparent, Aaron

Rodgers. As far as Davis is concerned, such a confrontation could only harm the team.



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