In what might be the most-viewed game in MNF history: The Big, Big Packers-Vikings game is tonight

from Kevin Seifert

THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE — This is the type of exchange that fuels drama and intrigue and conspiracy theories, producing the kind of subtext that has pushed our little division(NFC North) into the national spotlight.

Speaking to reporters last Monday afternoon, Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy innocently noted that Brett Favre “had a desire to play in Minnesota” as far back as 13 months ago, a time when he was still on the Packers’ roster.

About an hour later, I asked Vikings coach Brad Childress if there was ever a point last year that he thought he could sign Favre. Childress smiled and asked me to repeat the question, a strategy employed by spelling-bee participants when they need more time to think.

“You mean, did I covet him?” Childress asked. “The good Lord tells us not to covet people’s goods.”

“There are some sins in the NFL,” I said.

“I didn’t covet him because he was property of the Packers,” Childress responded, carefully walking the line between the truth and tampering.

The devil is in the details, and often they are unspoken. The looming showdown between Favre and his former team carries regional drama for the obvious reasons. But its mass appeal, the one that could put it among the most-watched football games in recent history, is rooted in supposition and speculation — the sense that a football game will break out amid the cloak and dagger shenanigans that might (or might not) have occurred during Favre’s yearlong journey to this week.

Most-Viewed ‘MNF’ Games on ESPN (2006-Present)
Rank Date Teams Viewers+ Households+
1 09/15/2008 Philadelphia-Dallas* 18,608 12,953
2 12/03/2007 New England-Baltimore 17,522 12,529
3 10/23/2006 N.Y. Giants-Dallas 16,028 11,807
4 09/25/2006 Atlanta-New Orleans 14,999 10,850
5 09/21/2009 Indianapolis-Miami 14,710 10,849
*All-time cable television viewership record
+Numbers in 000s.

Highest-rated game in ‘MNF’ history (On ABC)
Rank Date Teams Rating Share
1 12/02/85 Chicago-Miami 29.6 46
Source: ESPN

“This is the type of thing that makes football,” Packers linebacker Nick Barnett said. “It’s this type of game. It’s going to be a big circus and it’s going to be fun.”

How could it not? We have the raw emotion generated by Favre’s new home, combined with a subtext of inter-franchise warfare normally reserved for the Yankees and Red Sox.

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