Want to solve a mystery? Follow the money.
Brett Favre went into a long, convoluted explanation this week about why his return had nothing to do with money.
Vikings officials always maintained his absence from training camp had nothing to do with money. Wednesday, club owner Zygi Wilf told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that Favre's decision to return had nothing to do with money.
All of which means, of course, that it had everything to do with money. Favre's new contract released this week calls for him to earn $16 million with incentives that could skyrocket the final total to $20 million.
Of course, that would mean winning a Super Bowl, in which case Wilf will consider it money well spent. But considering Favre is coming back to a team that doesn't include his two favourite receivers from a year ago, there's more than a little doubt they'll be parading in snow country come January.
Either way, it would be nice if for once an athlete just said: "Yeah, it has everything to do with the money." Afterall, it's not like they're fooling anyone. If it wasn't about the money in Favre's case, then why is the team paying him up to $7 million more than called for in his original contract?
There's only one reason. It's all about the money. In pro sports it isn't the actual figure on the pay cheque that matters so much as what that figure represents. The reason stars hold out isn't because they need an extra five or six million dollars. When someone hits the levels of compensation of Favre & Co., it takes a complete moron to ever spend it all and come out the other end on a street corner holding a styrofoam cup.
So, why do it? Why bother?
In the world of the elite pro athlete -- money represents respect. They look at their contracts and what the figure tells them is how they are viewed in comparison to their collegues. Big numbers equals big respect and if there is one thing Favre has to go along with his Hall-of-Fame numbers -- it is a Hall-of-Fame ego.
He needs, it seems, to be loved. Universally -- or, at least wherever he happens to be calling his football home. Mostly that hasn't been an issue.
But he goes into this season on a wonky ankle and his two favourite targets -- Sidney Rice (hip surgery) and Percy Harvin (recurrent migraines) will likely miss much of the season. Suddenly those familiar faces Favre so much said convinced him to return are gone.
Rice and Harvin caught 143 of the 207 passes Favre threw last year to Vikings' receivers. Bernard Berrian (55 catches) and Greg Lewis (eight) are the only healthy receivers who caught a pass from Favre in 2009.
"Without Sidney, it sure makes it tougher," Favre told reporters. "But going into the season last year, no one expected the season that Sidney was going to have. So, maybe there's another guy that can step up and do that."
They signed Javon Walker, who played with Favre in Green Bay, Tuesday. But that was three years ago and he's caught just 41 passes since in stopovers with Oakland and Denver. Wednesday they added slot receiver Greg Camarillo, who has 105 receptions, the past two seasons in Miami to step into Brett Favre's Wonderland.
If it doesn't work out he will have lots of excuses -- oops, I mean reasons -- from the bad pins, to no Rice or Harvin but there's one thing that's certain -- it won't be about the money. Honest.
No leg to stand on
It's been a goods news/bad news kind of week for the Detroit Lions.
Defensive end Jared Devries, who they hoped would challenge Cliff Avril, is seeing a specialist about his injured knee. There's speculation that after missing nearly all of training camp he could be gone for much of the season.
DeVries, beginning his 12th season, tried to practice Monday and was in obvious discomfort. He missed all of last season after tearing his Achilles tendon. The bothersome knee is on the same leg.
It had been hoped that a better Lions defensive line, anchored by rookie Ndamukong Suh, could make up for a porous secondary. With Devries likely out of the mix, the team will have to count on newly acquired Seahawks reject Lawrence Jackson.
On the upside safety Louis Delmas, while not 100% recovered from a groin injury, has been practicing.
Five months after signing Antonio Bryant to that four-year, $28-million contract, the Bengals may be ready to eat the deal or put him on injured reserve. Bryant (knee) hasn't practiced since the opening day of camp and in the months since Bryant signed, Terrell Owens has arrived to play alongside Chad Ochocinco, and rookies Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Gresham have looked good ... Tampa Bay running back Derrick Ward isn't having a great pre-season and is in danger of losing his job as the No. 2 back to Kareem Huggins ... With Camarillo traded to the Vikings, Patrick Turner, the Dolphins third-round draft pick should slide into the No. 4 receiver slot behind Brandon Marshall, Brain Hartline and Davone Bess. The deal also means undrafted rookie, Marlon Moore, has the inside track to win the fifth and final receiver spot on Miami's 53-man roster ... Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher missed his fourth consecutive day of practice Thursday and won't play Saturday against Arizona due to a strained left calf muscle. Veteran Hunter Hillenmeyer will start ... Patriots re-signed kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who has hit on 87.3 percent of his field goals the last two seasons making him one of the league's most effective kickers, to a four-year, $14-million extension through 2014. The deal contains $5 million guaranteed.