Reports out of Minnesota continue to conflict about whether Brett Favre will or will not start Sunday against the Patriots. Earlier today, Brad Childress was supposedly leaning towards Tarvaris Jackson. Later, Favre was reported to be back at practice, sans boot, and doing light stretching and throwing before the media got the boot from the session.

Regardless of whether Favre plays Sunday or not (and if, between now and then, anyone tells you the Patriots are better off if he doesn’t, you’ll know you’re not talking to anyone who actually follows the NFL), we are about to find out who among the pregame show pundits, ex-coaches and ex-players are in the back pocket of Favre’s Wranglers and who is not.

If Favre does play, we’ll get the usual “What a warrior” spiel from the apologists. There will be no questioning whether Favre is placing his streak above the Vikings’ fading playoff hopes. There will be no questioning how much Favre is actually hurt (some medical experts have called his injury a glorified ankle sprain) or discussion of how much a drama queen Favre can be.

If Favre decides not to play (and make no mistake, it’s his decision. Childress doesn’t have the brass to tell him he’s not), watch out for the folks who talk about how courageous he was to scrap his streak for the good of the team. “Brett Favre tried to give it a go, warrior that he is, but his ankle and his conscience just wouldn’t let him. Brett Favre is a true leader, even if it means he has to step aside for a week for his team. You know if Brett Favre could play, he’d play.”

Even the majority of those who raise the questions or say something remotely critical of Favre will do so only after the usual “Brett Favre is one of the great competitors, but…” or “Brett Favre loves to play so much, but…” preambles (a Chris Berman specialty). Our last, best hope for unfiltered criticism will be Rodney Harrison, who apparently hasn’t gotten the memo yet that if you’re employed by a network with an NFL contract, keep your praise excessive and your criticism dull.

Oh, and laugh at everything, even if it isn’t funny.

If somebody has a chance and the stomach to watch any or all of Sunday’s pregame shows, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Favre fawning. Who were the worst offenders? Did anyone actually speak the tru…, uh, I mean, offer unfettered criticism? What percentage of Shannon Sharpe’s comments could you understand?

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