Ahman Green and William Henderson. Marco Rivera and Frank Winters. Santana Dotson and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila. Desmond Howard and Antonio Freeman. Matt Hasselbeck and Keith Jackson.
Those were just some of Brett Favre’s former teammates who came to Canton, Ohio, to celebrate Favre’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday night.
And they all had a story.
“I believe it was 1998, when we went to the World Bowl and we played the Kansas City Chiefs in Japan,” Rivera said. “Before we left for that game, that week in practice, Brett put a bunch of Heat in my helmet. I knew it was him because he was laughing the whole time. I said, ‘I’m going to get this guy.’ When we got to Japan, after the first practice, I was the first one in the locker room and I doused his street clothes in Heat – his underwear, his shirt, his armpits. The stuff we had, you didn’t smell it. It was activated by body heat. So he takes a shower and he had a big press conference right after. So those big lights go on and he starts sweating and, the next thing you know, I see him start twitching and I was like, ‘Oh, yes!’ He never said a word. He got in the bus and I know he was sweating and in pain but he never said, ‘OK, who did it?’ Nope. He sat down there and took it. I know to this day he’s wondering who the hell did that.”
Green said Favre got him with a couple of pranks. During Green’s first season with the Packers, his teammates called him “teacher’s pet” because he had been with the Seahawks when then-coach Mike Sherman was Seattle’s offensive coordinator. One day before practice, Green grabbed his jersey and it said “Sherman” instead of “Green.” As it turned out, Favre, equipment manager Red Batty and Sherman were behind that prank.
That one was harmless. A few years later, Favre went “biochemical” on Green and backup quarterbacks Doug Pederson and Craig Nall.
“It’s midseason and, all week, I’d come to my locker and get my practice gear and I noticed that there was a mildew smell to it,” Green recalled. “I’m going into the equipment room to harass them. ‘Guys, c’mon, you’re all-pro equipment guys. Why are you guys not able to wash the gear? It smells like mildew. Are you forgetting to put it on rinse and spin and put Tide in there?’ They’re like, ‘Ahman, we don’t know what’s going on.’ Wednesday practice, my jersey, my pants, my socks smell like mildew. Thursday, same thing. Friday, same thing. Finally, Doug Pederson, after Friday’s practice, he says to me, ‘Ahman, has your stuff been smelling like mildew?’ I said yes. He said, ‘You won’t know this because you don’t hunt.’ At that time, I wasn’t a hunter. He said, ‘Brett has been taking dried deer urine and sprinkling it on our jerseys.’ Somehow, he was getting in there and sprinkling all of our laundry bags. I had been wearing doe urine on my pads, on my practice jersey, my socks, my shoes – it was everywhere. I had no idea.”
Those are two of the countless stories about Favre the Prankster. Those mischievous acts helped keep the team, which faced intense expectations from the fans, loose – a critical element, those who were around him every day said.
Favre was all business on the field, but that same keep-calm approach translated to the games.
“Football’s a very stressful job, especially for the offensive linemen,” Rivera said. “When you’re protecting No. 4, you don’t want to be the guy to screw up and get him hit or give up a sack or cause a big play in the game. He’s the type of quarterback – you heard the stories of quarterbacks being very judgmental to the offensive linemen and pointing the finger and blaming the linemen because they threw an interception because they got pressure. Brett never did any of that. He was a guy who said, ‘You know what? We’re going to win as a team and lose as a team.’ He never belittled anybody, blamed anybody – especially his linemen – for anything that happened. He was the first one to give you a high-five when things were good and he’d give you a high-five or a tap on the bum and say, ‘Don’t worry. We’ll get them next time.’ That was Brett.”
In time, Favre became the leader of the Pack, picking up the baton left by Reggie White.
"It was never about how much money you made, it was never about how many accolades you receive," Henderson said. "It was always about winning. That’s all that mattered. All the guy wanted to do was win. And that trickled down to the rest of us. He was the perfect guy to lead us."
And now, their leader has taken his rightful place among football's immortals.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Chmura said. “We’re just so excited for him. There’s a sense to me that he wants to get this over with and have the relief and get to celebrate it for the rest of his life. You’re in the National Football League Hall of Fame. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
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.