DETROIT (AP) – Brett Favre’s finale, perhaps fittingly, is clouded with questions.
The Minnesota Vikings quarterback may or may not play against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, in what may or may not be the final game of his 20-year career.
On Thursday, the three-time league MVP still hadn’t passed post-concussion tests to be cleared to play. Favre missed Tuesday night’s win over Philadelphia after suffering a concussion against Chicago on Dec. 20. Interim coach Leslie Frazier listed Favre on the injury report as doubtful but declined Friday to elaborate on the quarterback’s condition or say whether he’d been cleared.
As for his last game? The 41-year-old Favre has said this is it, but he’s changed his mind about retirement twice and almost called it a career again only to be persuaded in mid-August by the Vikings to come back.
What a way to finish a season that started with Super Bowl hopes, but unraveled on, off and above the field.
To recap: Minnesota won just two of its first seven games; Randy Moss had a failed reunion; Brad Childress got fired; snow collapsed the Metrodome’s roof to move two games; another storm pushed a game to Tuesday night; and Favre was fined for failing to cooperate with the NFL’s investigation of inappropriate messages and lewd photos he allegedly sent to a former Jets game-day employee.
“This whole year has been a metaphor in itself for everything,” Vikings defensive end Jared Allen said. “The way it started, the way it ended, with the stadium collapsing, it’s just been one of those seasons, if something bad can happen, it’s going to.
“The biggest thing is to not lose sight of the task at hand and that’s trying to end this season the right way.”
With Favre watching from the sideline, Minnesota (6-9) and rookie quarterback Joe Webb focused well enough to upset playoff-bound Philadelphia 24-14 on Tuesday night in a game postponed two days because of a blizzard.
“You saw a team that was predicted earlier in the year to be a Super Bowl contender,” Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said. “You saw them come out and play that way — even with a third-string quarterback.”
The Vikings’ tumultuous season will end in the Motor City — where they lost to the Giants on Dec. 13, the night Favre’s NFL-record starting streak ended — in the first of two games moved from the Metrodome.
“Three weeks ago, Ford Field was our home field,” Vikings interim coach Leslie Frazier said. “I don’t know if there’s anything that could’ve prepared us for the things we’ve seen, in particular what we just experienced in Philadelphia. Tony Dungy, one of my coaching mentors, called me and said, `Leslie, in my 30 years of coaching, I’ve never experienced some of the things you’ve experienced.’ He just talked about the way we were handling things, and he thought we were doing a good job.”
The Lions have had to deal with something no NFL team has by rebuilding off an 0-16 season.
Two years later, Detroit (5-10) has gotten good enough to beat two playoff contenders — Green Bay and Tampa Bay — along with Miami to give the franchise its first three-game winning streak in December since 1995.
Star receiver Calvin Johnson is obviously happy with franchise’s direction not long after venting his frustrations when the Lions lost to Chicago — their sixth loss by five points or less — to fall to 2-10.
“Winning solves everything,” Johnson said with a smile.
The Lions had relatively high expectations this season after winning an NFL-record low two games over two years and they weren’t dashed by quarterback Matthew Stafford being healthy enough to play in parts of just three games.
Shaun Hill, who will start Sunday, and Drew Stanton became the first backups in three years to win multiple games.
Johnson is the first starting Pro Bowl receiver to catch passes from three starting quarterbacks in the regular season since the Jaguars’ Jimmy Smith did it in 1998.
“I think that says a lot about Calvin,” Schwartz said.
If doctors say Favre can’t play, Minnesota will turn to Webb, who became the first Vikings quarterback to win his first start since Ron Vander Kelen in 1963 against the Eagles.
Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, though, is hoping for another shot at Favre.
“I definitely would like to,” Suh said. “You never know if he’s going to come back.”
“I don’t think whether he does or doesn’t play on Sunday has any bearing on how the season’s been — it’s been weird,” Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell said. “It’s been different. It’s been every curve ball you could imagine, and we’re all part of it.”
By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
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