Brett Favre Just Won't Quit

Brett Favre is back — again? After saying he wouldn't, Favre unretired for a second time and signed a two-year contract with the Minnesota Vikings this week. He'll reportedly play Sunday. Host Scott Simon talks to ESPN.com's Howard Bryant about the week in sports, including Favre's nonretirement and the world track championships in Berlin.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

Coming up, deceptive orchids. But time now for sports.

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: Brett Favre is back. Wait - again? After he said he wouldn't, Mr. Favre unretired for a second time this week and signed a two-year contract with the Minnesota Vikings. He will reportedly play on Sunday. ESPN.com's Howard Bryant joins us. Hello, Howard.

Mr. HOWARD BRYANT (ESPN): Good morning, Scott. Where have you been?

SIMON: I was away for a couple of weeks. Like you care. Thank you, Howard. I wish we could've been sharing…

Mr. BRYANT: (Unintelligible) applying for the Cubs' closer job. It's open, you know.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Well, every job on that roster is open at the moment. Well, they have new owners, though, the Ricketts family - or, you know, about to get new owners, and I'm sure everything will be absolutely different and you'll regret those words. But…

Mr. BRYANT: They've got a seat waiting for you.

SIMON: In the bullpen, I hope so. Look, I love Brett Favre, but I though he clearly had three-quarters of a great season last year.

Mr. BRYANT: Yes.

SIMON: He's coming off of injuries. Is there any reason to think at age 39 he's gotten better?

Mr. BRYANT: No, I don't know if there's a reason for that, and I don't think that's the reason why the Minnesota Vikings signed him. I think the reason the Vikings signed him is because they felt that as - that he's as good right now as - or better - than the two quarterbacks that they had - Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels. And if Brett Favre can play anything close to the way he did for three-quarters of last year with the New York Jets, they can win a championship.

And right now they're already favorite - even though he played last night and was pretty shaky - admitting he was nervous in a meaningless exhibition game -that they can win a championship. And I think that's - the thing about Brett Favre that's interesting to me is that he's the guy that people either want to hug or you want him to punch him out. For some reason, he's the lightning rod.

Athletes retire and unretire all the time. But for him, there's a special drama queen type of personality that comes to it.

SIMON: Did you call him a drama queen?

Mr. BRYANT: I did.

SIMON: Yeah, okay. Well, hope he's not listening.

Mr. BRYANT: I hope he is. He's heard it before.

SIMON: I like Brett Favre a lot.

Mr. BRYANT: I actually had no problem with him coming back. And look at Roger Clemens - I mean, he retired five times in the past five years.

SIMON: Well, see, we know something else is going on there, which brings us into baseball.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Red Sox are playing the Yankees this weekend, but the Yankees are 30, 40 games in front. I've stopped counting.

Mr. BRYANT: Do you want to call that a game last night - 20-11? I was waiting for the touchdown.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: That's very funny.

Mr. BRYANT: Horrible. The Red Sox are seven-and-a-half games back. The Yankees are clearly the class of baseball. They're the best team in baseball right now. They started this season losing eight straight to the Red Sox and now they've beaten the Red Sox five straight. And if the Red Sox don't get these next two games, you can pretty much think about the wild card if you're the Red Sox. The Yankees are a machine right now.

SIMON: And what about the wild card? What about them dang Texas Rangers?

Mr. BRYANT: The Texas Rangers are my favorite team in baseball. I can't believe I've ever said that before, but they've got a great manager in Ron Washington, who's a great story. He's a…

SIMON: Yeah.

Mr. BRYANT: …great American story. Here's a guy who was a third base coach for years. He was a utility player for years for - he's one of those guys who you didn't think was going to get a job and he ended up managing a team this year that is a half game out of a playoff spot when management - the great Nolan Ryan, his boss - wanted to fire him, both last year and this year.

But they are doing something that they haven't done in a long time. They haven't made the playoffs since 1999. And they're a fun story. It's a team that's off the beaten track, that they can hit the ball a lot and hopefully if they pitch a little bit they can make it an interesting September.

SIMON: Howard, in 30 seconds we have left, Usain Bolt, World Track Championships in Berlin, every week he seems to demolish his own world record and doesn't even look winded.

Mr. BRYANT: No. He's a machine.

SIMON: Just this week, five Jamaican track and field stars thrown off the team for testing positive for drugs. You are the ranking expert on juicing in sports. I'll just let you finish the sentence.

Mr. BRYANT: Well, once again, it's Olympic time. We know that this is going to be an issue. You would hope that it's not going to be one. But, as the combination of sport and science becomes more and more complicated, it is what we would like to call an unfortunate eventuality. It's inevitable.

SIMON: All right. Howard, nice talking to you. Talk to you next week…

Mr. BRYANT: A pleasure.

SIMON: …or a couple of weeks. Howard Bryant, senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine. Thanks so much.

Mr. BRYANT: Thank you.

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