All year long, Brett Favre has shown he’s one of the National Football League’s most entertaining players on the field. But with a horde of national media hanging on his every word leading up to Super Bowl XXXI, he’s getting a chance to show those outside Wisconsin that he’s just as entertaining off of it.
In the week after the Packers’ NFL title game victory over Carolina, the two-time league MVP quarterback worked the crowd like an athletic Jerry Seinfeld. He mixed in enough witty comments and sarcasm with analysis of the upcoming game against the New England Patriots to make someone think there was a laugh track emanating from the team’s lower-level media auditorium.
One reporter asked about the Packers’ die-hard fans, and Favre said:
“When you go out there and 60,000 people are going crazy, it fires you up. I saw a couple big fat guys sitting there with no shirt on (in the NFC title game) and I’m like, ‘Wow, I’m bundled up and I’m thinking these guys are going to be dead when the game’s over.’”
When asked to assess Patriots’ quarterback Drew Bledsoe, he fired away with:
“Big guy. Smart guy. Great arm. Everything you’d want in a quarterback. He doesn’t run around and do crazy things and fumble – all the things that I do.”
He was asked what his thoughts were on the February day in 1992 when he found out he was traded from Atlanta to Green Bay. He smiled and answered:
“I remember I was eating crawfish and drinking a cold beer,” he said with a smile. “God, the good ‘ol days.”
On his impending contract extension, he said he has to bring agent James “Bus” Cook back to Earth on occasion:
“I’m like, ‘C’mon, Bus, let’s be realistic. They’re not going to pay me $150 million for three years.”
And so it went.
Diary of a Record Season
Working the Room Before Super Bowl XXXI
New Era, Same Favre
Laying It All on the Line
Jeckyl and Hyde
Dealing with a Favre-less Season
Special Game, Special Place
Dad ‘Was Watching Tonight’
By the Numbers
Teammates Return for ‘Icon’ Favre
Would he have butterflies before the big game?
“I was talking to Terry Bradshaw today and told him I’ll probably throw up before this game – and I haven’t thrown up in a long time.”
Favre did get serious on occasion during his Monday (Jan. 13) and Thursday (Jan. 16) meet-the-press sessions, like when he was giving his impressions on New England’s defense.
“I think they’re pretty good. They’re young. Early in the year it took them a while to get it together but you look at their last three or four games, they’re playing well. They have a lot of talent, they play hard and they move to the ball well. I watched the Jacksonville tape and (quarterback) Mark (Brunell) moves around well but they were in his face and (running back) Natrone Means didn’t have a chance. A couple years ago, they were a little bit older but they got rid of those guys and they’re a young team now that moves well. They rush the passer well, they’re not big guys, but they’re fast off the corner and on the turf, they’ll be even faster.”
As for the secondary he’ll be facing he added:
“The only guy I’ve played against is Willie Clay. I know he’s a really good player. He picked me off twice last year in one game (when Clay was with the Lions). Ty Law is playing great. Otis Smith… (backup quarterback) Jim McMahon said he played with him in Philly and thought he was the best athlete they had in the secondary, and he’s made some plays. They have some great talent back there and mix up coverages very well. We haven’t played a team that mixes up coverage the way they do and plays each one of them very well.”
In response to coach Mike Holmgren saying Favre played this year with a chip on his shoulder, he said:
“It’s just that the whole talk coming into training camp was, ‘Can he return to form?’ and like I’ve said a million times, I never left – this is not a comeback. I’m just maybe a little more determined. Even if none of the things would’ve happened this offseason I still would’ve been determined.” On continuing to play at a consistently high level, he offered the following:
“I said after winning the MVP last year that now it’s going to be even harder to maintain. I remember telling you guys that 38 touchdowns, I don’t know if I can do that again, but I threw 39 this year. So I’ll tell you that next year it’s going to be hard to throw 39. I hope next year I’m saying, 40, man, that’s pretty good. But it’s hard to live up to these standards that you set. But if you don’t, people think you had a setback and that’s not the reality of it. I hate for people to say that, because then I start believing it.”
Favre has often said that he’s at his best when he feels he’s at a disadvantage. He elaborated on the topic on Jan. 16:
“I did play mind games with myself. That’s just the way I function. I think the whole world is against me and I think that’s better than thinking everyone’s on your side and everything is rosy because that’s not the truth. If I went into this game and thought everyone thought Brett Favre will be fine, he’ll do great, he’s the best quarterback around; I’d probably have a horrible game because I’d start believing it. Nothing against you guys, but I try not to read the paper or watch the news. I just try to re-create things in my mind and I think it helps me. It’s like this game coming up, it’s like, New England’s pretty good, I don’t know if I can perform against them, but I said the same thing against Carolina and against San Francisco and then after the game I said, ‘Whew, I didn’t do that bad.’”
On the importance of getting off to a good start in the Super Bowl, he said:
“I say it’s very important, but heck, I don’t know what Brett Favre will do. I might come out and light it up or come out and be awful and everyone will say, ‘Here we go again,’ and then I light it up in the second half. Our team really hasn’t needed me in these playoffs. Against San Francisco I threw 15 passes and last week, (running back) Dorsey (Levens) had over 200 some yards of total offense (in a 30-13 win over the Panthers) and our defense has played magnificently all years. So I hope they don’t need me.”
On playing in New Orleans, just 60 miles from his hometown of Kiln, Miss., and the possible distractions that await him, Favre was as honest as ever:
“Mike has tried to talk to me, but I think the distraction part is just going to help me. Knowing myself, if I had to sit there all week and just think about the game, if it were in some other city where I had to just sit in a hotel and now know anyone and to know the city, I’d probably go crazy. I’ll be able to go home for a day or two, visit family, go out and eat wand when it comes Friday or Saturday, I can focus on the game. I’ll get to see people I haven’t seen for a while and play a football game.”
But will Holmgren talk to him anyway?
“I’ve heard that he wanted to sit down and talk to me, but I don’t really want to hear it. I know now what I have to do. This is the biggest game that I’ve ever played in and I want to win it and I’m not going to screw it up.”
Favre was also asked to reflect on some of his earliest playing experiences in the Superdome while he was a quarterback at Southern Miss. He lit up:
“We played in front of about 16,000 people and 14,000 were from Kiln, Miss. And I thought that was the greatest thing in the world to play inside the dome. And we won. Just the whole atmosphere of playing there and having grown up a Saints fan, and playing where they played, it was a neat feeling and it still is today. The city is a great city. And I told you guys when I found out the Super Bowl was going to be in New Orleans that I was excited and we were going and I’ve been saying that since the start of training camp.”
One of the final questions posed to Favre was one of those the reporters already know the answer to, but want to hear anyway. As usual, Favre didn’t disappoint when asked if he was anxious to get to New Orleans:
“I’m packed and ready, man. My wife said, ‘Look, will you just chill out,’ and I’m like, ‘I need sandals, I need T-shirts, I need shorts, and oh, a sport coat.’ I’m just ready to go. I can’t wait. It’s like 1,000 below zero here and I call home today and I said, ‘What’s the temperature?’ and Mom said, ‘We’ll, it’s pretty cold, it’s 58 degrees.’ Well, it’s 58 below here. I’m coming off the plane in sandals and a T-shirt and my hat backwards. But no, I’m really excited about going. I can’t wait to get there – and 40 degrees would be like a heat wave.”
Favre could’ve entertained the masses longer, but there were meetings to attend and strategies to review. He got up from the podium, wearing a sleeveless shirt, shorts, a hat (worn backwards, of course) and a necklace. He flashed his trademark grin and then disappeared down a hallway. If all goes according to plan, he’ll be back for an encore performance following the Super Bowl.