Mariucci and Favre still share special bond

It just doesn't seem quite right for the quarterback and head coach of opposing teams to have such warm, deep feelings for each other. After all, the coach will be sending his players to plant the quarterback into the turf and the quarterback will be trying to beat the coach's team this Sunday at historic Lambeau Field.

(ALLEN PARK) - It just doesn't seem quite right for the quarterback and head coach of opposing teams to have such warm, deep feelings for each other. After all, the coach will be sending his players to plant the quarterback into the turf and the quarterback will be trying to beat the coach's team this Sunday at historic Lambeau Field.

But none of that seems to bother Packers' Future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre and Lions' head coach Steve Mariucci.

Despite some bogus biography information in previous editions of Lions literature that credited former Lions coach Marty Mornhinweg with helping tutor Favre into one of the NFL's top quarterbacks, the real instructor was Mariucci.

That fact is not lost on Favre who still considers Mariucci, not just a coach or a friend, but a father figure.

"His role was quarterbacks coach," said Favre, "but more than that, he was sort of a buffer between me and Mike (Holmgren), not that one was really needed. It was easier for him to relate to me. It's been documented in the past that Mooch caught all of the heat for my mistakes and I appreciated it, maybe not so much at the time. I didn't realize exactly what was going on."

"You know Mooch, how can you not like him? I spent a lot of time at his house, babysitting his kids, which was scary. He trusted me with his kids. He was like a family member and I think you guys spending time with him have grown to really appreciate him and like him as a person. Sometimes he failed to realize he's a coach. He just has that way of carrying himself that you can't help but like him. I spent a lot of time with him as coaches and players do, you spend a lot of time together. The more time we spent together, the more we enjoyed being around each other. And on top of that, he helped me as a player."

"His daughter Brittney is the same age as my son Steven, " explained Mariucci, "and they rode the bus together. We would baby-sit Brittney and he would baby-sit my kids if Gale and I ever wanted to go out to the Red Lobster for a night on the town. He even hired my kids to cut his grass and then my kids wouldn't cut it so I think I ended up doing it one time, which made me mad. We both grew up in the NFL together as youngsters. It was my first experience in the NFL and he had red-shirted in Atlanta and then came to Green Bay and had a lot of responsibilities there. We learned this offense together and we went through his younger years together and we have a mutual respect for each other. He's certainly a hall-of-famer and I always look forward to playing against him."

Mariucci spoke about the mixed feelings he had once he was offered his first head coaching job at the University of California.

"It was interesting because I had accepted the job with Cal before we were done playing and we went all the way to the NFC championship game and played Dallas. It was a decision I had to make – do I leave the Packers and begin my career at Cal and start recruiting or do I stick with it and not get recruiting for Cal? It was a dilemma, but I chose to stay with Green Bay and finish it even if we went to the Super Bowl because I felt I had a commitment there and I felt like I needed to see it through."

"I hired a staff and interviewed guys in Green Bay and sent them on the way recruiting. I made recruiting calls at night but I wasn't going to leave the Packers until the job was done. It was tough to leave because I knew we had a good football team. You take steps and there was progress so you knew they were going to have a good team. It was an opportunity for me to become a head coach and I took it and was happy to take it. I also knew I was leaving a heck of a team."

Favre spoke the feelings he felt once he found out his mentor was leaving to take the head coaching job at Cal.

"I called Mooch at about three in the morning and we talked for a long time and it finally got down to, ‘Hey, I'll do what I can. I'll give up part of my salary to keep you here.' I was willing to do anything and it didn't work out. I mean, it worked out great for him. I hated to lose him. Life went on and I know that's part of the game. I was willing to do everything I could to keep him here and yes, that is true."

How has the friendship endured since Mariucci became a head coach in the NFL?

"I don't get a chance to communicate and talk to him as much as I used to," admitted Mariucci. "We'll do that at a later time as we are both very busy. He's had so many successful years and a lot of good coaching in his career and I was just lucky enough to be there when he happened to be young. He was so instrumental in getting that organization together."

For Favre, he understands that there are no friendships on the football field during game time, but after the game is over, win or lose, he and Mariucci will continue to be solid friends.

"It's different, or at least it was when we first started playing against each other. It was odd, but you put that aside for those three hours and you compete and then afterwards there's no real feelings either way."

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