Minneapolis, MN - The Minnesota Vikings and their fans spent 16 years growing to despise Brett Favre, more often that not coming out on the losing end against the NFL's all-time leading passer.
The Green Bay Packers finally get their turn Monday night - with a year of acrimony already under their belts.
In a reunion fit for prime time, Favre faces the Packers for the first time since his bitter divorce from one of football's most storied franchises, with the future Hall of Famer now trying to lead the rival Vikings to their first 4-0 start since 2003.
Oddsmakers from online sports book BetOnline have made the Vikings –3.5 point spread favorites (View NFL odds) for Monday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 62% of bets for this game have been placed on the Vikings –3.5 (View NFL bet percentages).
Favre first hinted at retirement in January 2006 before ultimately coming back for a 16th season with Green Bay (2-1), the team he became synonymous with while winning three consecutive league MVPs and a Super Bowl in the mid-1990s.
Arguably his best season since then came in 2007, when he led the Packers to the NFC championship game before losing to the New York Giants.
His first retirement - in March 2008 - didn't last long, as Favre began hinting of a comeback. A summer-long feud erupted between Favre and Green Bay's front office, which refused to grant him his unconditional release in July. The Packers eventually agreed to trade him to the New York Jets, whom he led to a 7-3 start before losing four of five games and missing the playoffs.
Favre admitted after the season that part of his initial comeback attempt was to "stick it" to Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson.
Favre retired from the Jets in February, but that just began another flirtatious offseason. The 10-time Pro Bowler was linked to the Vikings (3-0) repeatedly, and three week after telling coach Brad Childress he wouldn't end his second retirement, he reversed course and joined them in mid-August.
That, of course, meant he'd have two shots at the team for which he made the first 253 of his NFL-record 272 consecutive starts by a quarterback.
"Nothing surprises me in this business, it really doesn't,'' said head coach Mike McCarthy, who's led the Packers since 2006. "I've been around it long enough that there's no surprises. I know the last time we talked face-to-face, he had a desire to play in Minnesota. So yeah, I'm not surprised by it.
"We want to beat everybody on the Vikings, Brett Favre included."
So far, so good with his former nemesis, and Favre hasn't just been riding All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson's coattails like many believed he would. The gunslinging Favre has thrown just one interception through five games and has five touchdowns, including a miraculous 32-yard strike to Greg Lewis with two seconds left Sunday to give Minnesota a stunning 27-24 win over San Francisco.
Favre's 43rd career fourth-quarter comeback from a deficit or tie didn't stop him from looking ahead to the Packers, however.
"It'll be a big game for a lot of reasons,'' said Favre, who was 17-14 against Minnesota while with Green Bay. "They are a good football team. We're going to have to play better than we did today to win it - to win any games.''
Part of the reason Green Bay felt comfortable with Favre's initial retirement was the presence of Aaron Rodgers, and the second-year starter - who sat behind Favre for three years - has thrown four touchdowns without an interception.
He's only completed 56.7 percent of his passes, but Rodgers helped the Packers bounce back from a home loss to Cincinnati with a big effort Sunday in their road opener. He threw for 269 yards and two scores in Green Bay's 36-17 rout of St. Louis.
"(My offensive line) really gave me some time,'' Rodgers said. "I was able to move in the pocket.''
Rodgers was sacked twice against the Rams after being taken down 10 times in the first two games, and he could have some help from Chad Clifton on Monday. Clifton, a 2007 Pro Bowler, sprained his right ankle against the Bengals and sat last week, but could play Monday.
The Vikings are fourth in total defense, allowing 259.7 yards per game, and have eight sacks, with Jared Allen's two leading the way. Allen also has two forced fumbles.
That's one more than Ben Leber has, but the eighth-year linebacker is eager for more from his defense against Rodgers and the Packers. Minnesota hasn't won four in a row to begin a season since the 2003 club opened 6-0.
"I think everybody knows what's at stake, and more importantly we're on a roll right now," Leber said. "I know that we want to go out and fight for Brett and get a win for him, but at the same time we want to be 4-0. It's been a huge motivation for us to be 4-0 and just keep this streak going. That's our main concern.''
Peterson, meanwhile, leads the NFL with 357 rushing yards and is second with four touchdowns, and he'll be hoping for a repeat performance from when Green Bay last visited the Metrodome. Peterson ran for 192 yards in Minnesota' 28-27 win over the Packers on Nov. 9, scoring the game-winning touchdown with 2:22 left.
That was Peterson's first win in four tries against Green Bay, but he's hungry for more - particularly with the additional hype this matchup carries.
"We're ready for it,'' Peterson said. "That doesn't change the game. We still have to line up across from those guys and play football. That's what we're going to do.''
The Packers won four of their last five visits to the Metrodome with Favre, who threw 12 touchdown passes and had a quarterback rating of at least 100 in each game in that span.
Posted: 9/30/09 11:25PM ET