Favre happy, per Longwell, who says stadium may sway where he kicks
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If he re-signs with the Minnesota Vikings for next season, kicker Ryan Longwell is hopeful that he'll be questioned about his playing career rather than the career of his friend and former teammate Brett Favre.
"Someone may actually be concerned about me kicking a ball instead of who I know," Longwell said in an interview with 1500 ESPN on Friday.
A teammate of Favre's for 13 seasons in Green Bay and Minnesota, Longwell became Favre's unofficial spokesman last August as Favre contemplated returning for a second season with the Vikings. Favre was finally coaxed out of Mississippi following a visit from Longwell, Jared Allen and Steve Hutchinson.
After an injury- and scandal-filled 2010 season, Favre filed for retirement in January. Despite the last three summers in which Favre claimed retirement only to return in time for the regular season, Longwell believes that Favre is now content with life away from the game.
"I've talked to Brett a lot this off-season, once or twice a week, and he's as happy as can be retired," Longwell said. "He's really happy down there, really enjoying retirement and the biggest thing is he's totally at peace with it which is a huge piece of the puzzle as he leaves this game he's played since Pop Warner basically."
There's also a career decision looming in Longwell's future. The 36-year-old, who has spent the last five seasons with the Vikings, will become an unrestricted free agent once the NFL lockout is lifted. Although it appears likely that the team will seek to re-sign him, Longwell has done his homework on other teams that will have roster openings next season.
"It is our full desire to be back in Minnesota I mean we had a great five years and we'd love to put together another stretch of great years," Longwell said. "We'd certainly love to go back but you always know in the NFL that you never say never so there's always that chance that something could come up."
Longwell feels that he "aligns well with Coach Frazier and his outlook on life" but another factor, the logistics of a new Vikings stadium, could affect his decision.
"I know it's a buzzword up there but we've really followed the stadium thing as well because there are aspects of that that obviously play into our future whether that's playing in a dome, playing outside, playing in L.A. who knows," Longwell said. "There's a lot of question marks in the air, Sarah [Longwell's wife] and I have learned a great lesson in patience this off-season, we just don't know where we're going to be."
Also on Longwell's mind has been the recent NFL rule change that moved kickoffs back from the 35 to the 30-yard line.
"I have been joking, but it's really serious," Longwell said. "I mean I've worked out every year of my career trying to gain five yards on my kickoffs and this year it actually worked. I've worked really, really hard this off-season increasing [leg speed] and there's no doubt that the five yards definitely helps that cause as well."
In Windermere, Florida where they spend most of the off-season, Longwell and his wife have been working out with a new trainer that has been helping the kicker with full body conditioning and body mechanics to help him lengthen his kicks. Longwell described some of the training techniques as similar to those that MMA fighters use.
As labor talks continue, Longwell noted that the sooner the deal gets done the better, especially for free agents like himself that will have a short time to make a decision on which team to sign with. If the lockout ends in July, Longwell feels that free agents will have a week or so to find a team but the longer the lockout continues, that time could be decreased to just a few days.
"There's a lot of pieces to the puzzle that happen after there's an agreement it's just not this thing where you agree, you shake hands and start the next day there's still a lot of work to be done," Longwell said.
Longwell has made 113 of 129 field goals (87.6 percent), has kicked 26 touchbacks and has not missed a single game throughout his five years in Minnesota.