Like Everyone Else, Tarvaris Jackson Waits for Brett Favre
"Obviously, you wouldn't want to go through it," Jackson said. "I'm not sure any guy would want to be in this position year in and year out, but it's my situation and I've got to deal with it the best I can."
What he's doing this week is practicing at Vikings' OTAs. Favre, whose disdain for offseason programs and training camp is well documented and who's said he needs ankle surgery if he's to play again in 2010, is not there. So Jackson and Sage Rosenfels are switching off reps with the first-team offense, just as they were doing this time last year. Jackson said he's been in touch with Favre once or twice, but that he doesn't know what the future Hall of Famer's plans are.
"That's the thing about it," Jackson said. "I feel it would be better if you did know, and everybody in the locker room has their gut feeling about what he's going to do. But you get to a point where you've got to let yourself think he's coming back, because otherwise you set yourself up for disappointment."
Not that Jackson doesn't want Favre back. It's just that he's 27 and thought he'd be an NFL starter right now. And if that's to happen, he'd like to get going on it sooner rather than later. He started 12 games for the Vikings in 2007, then played poorly in 2008 and lost the starting job temporarily to Gus Frerotte. But Jackson finished the '08 season strong and felt like he was ready to take the next step. Until the Vikings went out and signed Favre.
"I was bitter. I was mad," Jackson said. "But then once he got here, and I got a chance to be around him and see what kind of person he was, I felt a lot better. He helped me a lot. I learned so much just by watching him. I wouldn't go back and change things. Having a chance to play behind a guy of his caliber was just great. I've had other guys, veteran guys I've learned from, but nobody who's done what he's done."
Favre also had a huge year, leading the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game, where they lost in overtime to the eventual Super Bowl champion Saints. Jackson called the 2009 season "very fun -- the best year we've had since I've been here." But he said it felt weird to not be playing while all the good stuff was going on, and while he's prepared for another year as a backup (he signed a one-year tender), he's also got his eye on his own personal future and development.
"I feel like I could learn from being a backup, but at the same time, I'm not getting younger," Jackson said. "I still want to be a great quarterback in this league and I want to make that happen. I only have one year left, so if he does come back, we'll see then. This is the team that drafted me. I want to be successful here. But whatever happens, I'm ready for it. Just take it as it comes."
As anybody who's followed Favre the past several off-seasons knows, that's the only way you can handle it.