Last summer, coaches and players lobbied Brett Favre to join the Minnesota Vikings through text messages, phone calls and in-person visits.
This year, the public has started the persuasion process for them.
Driven to show their appreciation for Favre’s storied first season with Minnesota, a group of Vikings fans has taken out advertising space on a digital billboard near the 40-year-old quarterback’s home in Hattiesburg, Miss.
“Hey No. 4, do Minnesota fans love you and want you back next year? You Brettcha!” the message reads.
The ad came from a Facebook group that has grown to more than 122,000 people as of Wednesday. It’s well short of the 4 million fans the group’s title declares as a goal, but full of contributed photos, videos and posted messages from the fans to be mailed to Favre. Jay Tappe of Minneapolis decided to create the group the day after the Vikings lost to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game.
“We never really got to give Brett a good send-off or a standing ovation or anything, because they finished the season on the road,” Tappe said. “My thought was to put up a billboard that he sees every morning.”
They’ve got a separate Web site for fundraising, vikesfans4favre.com, which reached the $2,600 needed to keep the billboard up for the month.
Leftover money will be donated to the foundation of Favre’s wife, Deanna, which helps disadvantaged women in their fight against breast cancer.
On the same Hattiesburg highway, U.S. 98, is another billboard with a similar message.
That one was purchased by Twin Cities sports radio station KFAN, which broadcasts the team’s games and has a regular slate of Vikings-related programming.
“Dear Brett, Deanna and family: Thanks for coming to Minnesota. We’d love to have you back. Vikings fans 4-ever,” the message reads, similarly using Favre’s jersey number as a stand-in.
Holmgren hires Haskell
Former assistant coach Gil Haskell has been hired to be Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren’s senior adviser.
Haskell and Holmgren previously worked together with the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers. The Browns did not specify Haskell’s role.
Haskell was Holmgren’s offensive coordinator for nine seasons in Seattle, and spent the final two seasons as assistant head coach.
Kubiak signs extension
Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak signed a contract extension that runs through the 2012 season, a vote of confidence after the team finished 9-7 – the first winning record in the franchise’s eight-year history.
Houston is 31-33 in Kubiak’s four seasons, though the team is still seeking its first playoff berth. The 48-year-old Kubiak took over the Texans in January 2006 after the team finished 2-14.
Four-time Rams Pro Bowl defensive back Nolan Cromwell is back with the franchise as wide receivers coach. He spent the past two seasons as offensive coordinator at Texas A&M. Before that he coached wide receivers with the Seahawks from 1999-2007. ... Jets Pro Bowl defensive end Shaun Ellis is recovering from surgery on his broken left hand and should be ready in time to participate in most offseason workouts. ... The Bills hired Doug Whaley to be the team’s assistant general manager and director of pro personnel. The Steelers hired Brandon Hunt to be their pro scouting director to replace Whaley.