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Minny futures to get a boost

It was a good 24 hours or so for the Minnesota Vikings starting Thursday. First, let’s start with Brett Favre news, as much as it pains me to talk about the most over-talked about athlete in the U.S. (maybe LeBron has that title for the next month or two).

I don’t think anyone really believes that Favre won’t return to Minnesota next season, as there’s no way he will want his career to end after an interception that likely cost his team a Super Bowl berth and led to an NFL overtime playoff rule change. Yes, Favre says he needs ankle surgery, but that’s good news because we should know soon whether he had the procedure, which means he wants to play one more year.

And now Favre has a promise to keep. He promised the Southern Miss baseball team – USM is his alma mater – that if it made the College World Series that he would play for the Vikings in 2010. Favre made a surprise visit to the team on Thursday and said this:

"Let's make a [fun] bet. If you guys go back to the College World Series this year - I will come back and play. How about that? … Y'all go back and I go back. I promise."

For what it’s worth, the Golden Eagles are a good but not great squad, ranked No. 29. Only eight teams make the CWS, however. They are a long shot.

Obviously Favre knew this news would get out, so he’s just setting the stage for a return whether Southern Miss comes through or not.

But I would argue the more important news came in a court of law in Minnesota, at least if you plan to bet on those Vikings over/under win totals. After the NFL recently got a ruling in its favor regarding a potential suspension of Vikings All-Pro defensive linemen Pat Williams and Kevin Williams, it appeared those two would miss the first four games of the season after testing positive for a banned diuretic two seasons ago (appeals, etc., have dragged this out). However, a judge in Hennepin County ruled that the Williamses (no relation) will be able to play for the Vikings if they appeal their four-game suspension. Judge Gary Larson recently ruled that the Williamses must serve their four-game suspensions after testing positive for that banned substance. But Larson granted the injunction Friday that will allow the Vikings to play during the appeals process.

So that means status quo, basically. Basically, for this appeal to be resolved it would have to go through probably the Minnesota Court of Appeals and Minnesota Supreme Court – and that process isn’t exactly speedy.

Thanks in large part to the Williamses, the Vikings have had one of the best run defenses in the NFL in the past few years – it ranked No. 2 last season and No. 1 the three seasons before that. Minnesota opens this season at New Orleans, vs. Miami, at Detroit and at the Jets. That’s a tough enough schedule even at full strength and the Fins and Jets are terrific running teams.

So does all this news affect Vikings futures? They are currently 7/1 on Bodog to win the NFC and 14/1 to win the Super Bowl. Obviously if Favre somehow retires those odds will rise considerably, but with No. 4 dropping hints and the Williamses in place, those odds should stay put if not go a bit lower when Favre makes it official.

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