Brett Favre’s list of thank yous ran long.
And, not surprisingly, the newly minted Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback didn’t care at all.
“I’m going for a world record, and I don’t give a damn,” Favre said.
Favre’s speech ran more than 36 minutes. He said he was told to keep it to eight or 10 minutes. Not that many of the fans flooding Tom Benson Stadium cared. While eight football legends were inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday night, it was Favre who the fans came to see. There probably were two or three times as many Favre jerseys than all the others combined.
If Favre had time, he might have thanked them each individually.
There was a thank you to his wife, Deanna, which started with Favre telling a story about going to a New Orleans Saints game when he was 14.
“When we returned home that night, what we didn't know was our mother had set up a surprise birthday party for my older brother, Scott, who was turning 17,” Favre said. “Well, I unknowingly entered the house first to a large eruption of surprise, and of course it was not my birthday and, as you can imagine, a 14-year-old boy in that situation with all his classmates there, was red-faced and embarrassed and I was looking for the quickest way to get to my bedroom. So, as I bolted and ducked my head and made my way through all of our classmates, there was one person that caught my eye and one person only. Well, it didn't matter. I went and hid in my room, and as I got up the nerve to come out later, that person and I, we played basketball, we talked. We played basketball, we talked. And several days later, as we used to say back in the day, we started going together.
“Well, that person happened to be my future wife, Deanna, by far the strongest and most courageous person I know. Definitely a strong woman of faith, she fought cancer in the public eye, and not only won, but she managed to inspire so many, including myself, along the way.”
“And I'll say this,” Favre added, “she's definitely the best-looking grandmother I have ever seen.”
There was a thank you to his mother-in-law, Ann.
“I have never thrown an interception that has been my fault. She’s lived with us in New York, and Minnesota and Green Bay, and she’s helped raise grandkids, other people’s kids, you name it. She’s one of the most patient and loving women you’ll ever …” Favre said, unable to finish his thought before breaking down.
There was a thank you for his mother, Bonita.
She “just recently had her hip replaced, and by no means was she going to be put on waivers for this,” Favre said. “She was going to be here. She is here. My mother taught me that being there for your children is absolutely important. I never, not one time, remembered my parents ever not being there at a sporting event, any school function, you name it. They were always there. We ate dinner together, we ate breakfast together, we rode to school together, we did everything together, and that’s something that’s been lost in this generation.”
There was a long and tear-filled thank you to his father, Irvin, who would have been Favre’s presenter had he not died the day before Favre’s famous victory at Oakland just before Christmas 2003.
“This is something I’ve never told anyone, including Deanna,” Favre said. “My dad was the head football coach. It was the last high school football game of my high school career and … I remember sitting outside the coach’s office, say, on a Wednesday, waiting for my father to come out so we could leave. It was dark. And I overheard my father talking to the three other coaches, and I heard him -- and I assume I didn’t play as well the previous week only because of what he said -- and he said: ‘I can assure you one thing about my son, he will play better. He will redeem himself. I know my son. He has it in him.’
“And I never let him know that I heard that. I never said that to anyone else. But I thought to myself: That’s a pretty good compliment, you know? My chest kind of swelled up. And, again, I never told anyone. But I never forgot that statement and that comment that he made to those other coaches. And I want you to know, Dad, I spent the rest of my career trying to redeem myself.”
There was a thank you to the general manager who acquired him, Ron Wolf.
“Ron Wolf is the single most important person to the Packers’ rebirth than any other person out there -- player, coach, GM,” Favre said. “It had been almost 25 years since the Packers had any success when Ron Wolf took over. And since then, we all know what the Packers have done. Without Ron Wolf, Mike Holmgren would not have coached in Green Bay. There would not have been a Brett Favre. There would not have been a Favre to (Sterling) Sharpe and (Donald) Driver and (Robert) Brooks and (Antonio) Freeman, (Mark) Chmura, Keith Jackson, Dorsey Levens, Edgar Bennett, Frank Winters, Santana Dotson, Andre Rison -- the list goes on and on. The single biggest free agent acquisition in NFL history is Reggie White.
“As I like to say, Ron Wolf made it cool to come to Green Bay. So I thank you, Ron, for believing in me, seeing something in me that others didn’t see, probably including myself, and sticking your neck out there for one of the riskiest and craziest trades in NFL history when you decided to trade a first-round pick for me with Atlanta. So I say thank you, Ron. I love you. You mean more to me than anyone.”
There was a thank you to the man who coached him to greatness, Mike Holmgren.
“Mike Holmgren, the greatest head coach I’ve ever played for,” Favre said. “He’s one of the toughest and most demanding coaches you’ll ever be around. He’s a true perfectionist, and I’m sure Steve (Young) and Joe (Montana) would say the same thing. But he was a very fair guy, and I know that because could you imagine being Mike Holmgren and leaving San Francisco, tremendous success, coaching two of the greatest players of all time in Joe Montana and Steve Young, and getting stuck with Brett Favre.
“Now, I thought I was good, but I had no idea what good was, and I am so thankful that Mike chewed my ass but believed enough in me to give me another chance. Because there were many times he could have and should have pulled me, and had he done that, there’s probably someone else standing here before you talking. So I’m thankful, Mike, for you and believing in me.”
Finally, there was a thank you to the fans.
“I thank you so much from Atlanta to Minnesota, 20 years,” Favre said. “Make no mistake about it, I will be remembered as a Packer.”
And the fans, in turn, thanked Brett Favre with raucous applause that capped a night unlike any other in the history of the Hall of Fame.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.