Q&A with Favre

EDITOR'S NOTE: Packers quarterback Brett Favre makes his 200th consecutive start Monday night against the St. Louis Rams at Lambeau Field. Favre was the subject of a conference call with national writers on Wednesday to discuss the subject, and such familiar topics as "Super Bowl or bust" and retirement. Here is Favre, unedited.

Q. When you reach these milestones like your 200th regular season start in a row, do you pay attention to that stuff? Are you aware of how many in a row you've played each week?

BRETT FAVRE: Honestly I don't think I would have any choice. Doing interviews, people just in passing mentioning it. If that were not the case, if I were not in a position to do interviews, I probably would be close, if I had to guess how many starts it would be.

But I really don't pay a whole lot of attention to it. I know it's been a long time. It's been a lot of games. I know that now because, like with age, the years start running together. You go, ‘Is that when I was 24?' That's kind of how I am with games.

With each game that passes, you start thinking of, "Yeah, that happened in such and such a game. That was in '97. No, wait a minute, that was '93." So that's kind of how I gauge myself or gauge my career.

Q. Is this still just a regular football game for you or just an escape or do you have a different perspective?

BRETT FAVRE: As you get older, you look at things differently. That goes for any occupation. You look at things differently. In my opinion, I think you appreciate things more. In this case, I realize that, unlike when I was 22 years old, I realize now that football will not go on forever, it is a small part of your life. All you have to do is point to high school. You know, you couldn't wait to get out. You thought that was the end of the world. You just couldn't get wait to get out and get on your own. It seemed like it took forever.

Once you got out, got away, realized it wasn't quite as bad as you thought, you go, "Hey, that went by so fast. If I could just get it back." That's kind of how I look at football. I still love to play the game and know that there's not 200 left, so I'm trying to enjoy them as much as possible.

Yes, it is sort of an escape, too. It's a fun escape, in my opinion. It's something I enjoy doing. It's every kid's dream to play. For me to still be able to do it at a high level in this position, it's just unbelievable.

Q. Who are some of the quarterbacks in the league now that you kind of admire, guys that you're impressed with?

BRETT FAVRE: There are a great deal. Daunte Culpepper, I think he's playing extremely well. He brings a great mix of athleticism and arm strength. Obviously, he's developed now into a star quarterback.

Peyton Manning, I watched his dad, also considered him a hero, and who is now a good friend of mine. To play against his son, to watch him play and develop into a great quarterback has been something.

I can go on and on. Michael Vick is probably the best athlete. Drew has played extremely well. There's a lot of guys I admire. I like good football, and there's a lot of it out there right now.


Q. When you started in this league, if you fell to 1-4 in the start of the season, you were pretty much done. On other teams, it's occurred since you got into the league. You're never out of it, are you?

BRETT FAVRE: I have always felt like, and call it naive, call it whatever, I've always felt like if I was the starting quarterback, we were always in it, always had a chance to win, always had a chance to be in the playoffs.

At 1-4, I have to admit, my confidence was shattered a little bit. I felt like I let this team down. I know it's not a one-man team win or lose. I think in my case, if you play long enough, just about everything that can happen will happen to you individually and as a team.

I've never started off 1-4 before in my career. I have to admit, I was pretty confident that we could rebound from that. I thought we'd get a good run. But to do what we've done, there was a lot of football left, in the regular season, and we knew that. I hope we continue the pace we are on now.


Q. Have you ever had your confidence shattered before?

BRETT FAVRE: Yes. Have I ever admitted to it before? Probably not.

But, yes, my confidence has been shattered before. But I'm able to admit that. There's certain things athletes have a hard time doing, one of them being admitting mistakes, admitting that they're nervous, admitting that they're scared. Hey, I've been all of the above before, but it's okay. You can still be an excellent football player and be nervous and have your confidence shattered because it's not always going to be perfect, it's not always going to be in your favor, you're not always going to play the way that you expect to play. If it was, then it wouldn't be any fun.

Yes, it's been shattered before.

Q. Brett, so many people know the name Brett Favre, even those that don't follow football that closely. Do you feel like a celebrity because of that or are you just a regular guy?

BRETT FAVRE: No, I'm a regular guy. To be totally honest with you, I don't know what I feel like. I don't know how you classify a celebrity. Is it a person who is signing autographs, who is always being tugged at?

I mean, I have always thought of myself as a football player - as a younger kid, as a football player and baseball player. I just love to do what I do. I never dreamed of all the other things that go along with it.

I'm thankful for all the things that this job has given me and my family. But probably the thing that I am most proud of throughout my career is that, not only myself, but my family and the people around me have just been regular people, which we are.

I tell people that. I have to say, "We are." I mean, why should we be any different?" Sometimes you get caught up in what's going on around you. The reality is that you are just a regular person. At some point, the career will be over, the bright lights turn off. That can come back to haunt you if you're not just a regular guy.

 Q. Speaking of that, Brett, about retirement, for years now people have been talking about your retirement, "When is he going to retire?" Do you grow tired of that?

BRETT FAVRE: I would think that everyone else would be. I mean, where it all stemmed from, I'm not quite sure. Why it's taken on a life of its own, I'm not quite sure. I mean, what has changed since we started talking about it? I have played every game. I have always said, dating back to when this began, that I am closer to the end of my career than I am to the start, obviously.

But that's not a statement of, "I'm retiring." When that day will come, I have no idea. I've always said that, and I stand by that. I really don't know. In some ways I wish there was -- that the decision almost was made for me. You know, I don't want to walk away and think that I left too early. I don't want to stay too long and think that I should have left a little bit earlier. And I don't want to go by injury.

So there's so many factors that go into staying and going. There's a business decision from the team standpoint that has to be made. Look what's happened to Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, guys like that. They have been traded, bounced around, as great as they were.

Do I get tired of it? Yes, I do, but I find it comical at times.

 Q. What do you remember about start number one against the Pittsburgh Steelers?

BRETT FAVRE: I remember being extremely nervous and having a lot of uncertainty from my standpoint of, "Okay, what will happen? How will I play? Will we win this game?" Things that really I couldn't control. As I look back now, with so much experience under my belt, I think those were normal feelings. Now I know what I can control and what I can't. That's as far as I go with it.

 Q. You always talked about having fun on the field. But setting this mark in your career, 200 games, at some point in your career did you set these goals and then think about the retirement?

BRETT FAVRE: No, I've never set -- my only goal was - and this dates back to as a kid growing up until I took my first snap as an NFL football player - my goal was to play NFL football. That was it. And as I finally achieved that goal, then, yes, you have smaller goals along the way. I want to become a starter, I want to make my name with the best of them. I want to set some standards that are hard to come by. Then you go with it.

I never thought about 200 games. I thought never thought about 200 straight games because there's so many factors that go into playing each week, injury, how you play, once again, business decisions, things like that. So I've been able to sort of outlast all those. That to me is as amazing as anything.

 Q. The fight in the Detroit Pistons game sort of illustrated a growing gap between professional athletes and fans. I wonder if you've seen that over the course of your career. It's a constant battle to remind fans that you're human, and human things happen to you, we're all in this together.

BRETT FAVRE: Watching TV, all the footage of the last five days has been about that, so it's hard not to be aware of it and see it. When you turn on the TV right now, you're seeing the negative side of sports, fan-player relationship.

You know as well as I do, every one of you listening in on this interview, know that negativity sells more than the positive side of things. People want to know who got a speeding ticket driving drunk as opposed to who donated two hours of their time to charity. Nobody wants to read about that.

I personally, in my relationship with the Packers and the NFL, have never seen it. There have been bumps along the way. Fans give you a hard time when you go to an opposing team's venue.

I've always felt a special bond with our fans here. There's always a few knuckleheads wherever you go. There's always a few knucklehead players, too.  And you can't let those spoil it for everybody else.

I know that was a terrible incident in Detroit, but there's a lot of great players out there, there's a lot of good character players that do great things not only for their team but for their community. I would say 95 percent or more of the fans are true fans. I mean, that's what they're called. I think we lose sight of that, the concept of that word "fans." You root for your team, you cheer against the opposing team, but really that's as far as you should take. I mean, there's two sides at fault there.

 Q. You have been through a lot lately in your family. How do you stay focused on the next game?

BRETT FAVRE: I'm not going to say it's easy. I'm not going to give you a formula. I'm not going to write a book. I don't know.

You deal with it. My interviews the last couple weeks have been mostly about your question: How you deal with it? I think the common answer that I give is that until it happens to you, you don't know how to deal with it. You always say, "Man, it's terrible, what he's got to go through, she's had to go through," this or that. You say the same things that everyone else says, "I don't know how they go through it. That's got to be so difficult."

But then when it happens to you or your family, you're faced with the utmost adversity. But you find a way to deal with it. Life goes on. As difficult as it may seem at times, it goes on. And you will be left in the rearview mirror if you don't step up to it and deal with it.

My wife, she said one time, "See life through the windshield, the front windshield, not the rearview mirror." I thought that was a great comment. You deal with things that are in front of you, and you can't really worry about what's happening behind you. So that's kind of what we do.

 Q. A former teammate in St. Louis, Adam Timmerman, every time your name is mentioned is looking back over his shoulder at some of the pranks that you pulled. He told us about one of your doosies. Have you done that this year, if so, what was the last good prank you pulled off with one of your teammates?

BRETT FAVRE: Man, I tell you what, it's always nice to hear stories of the old pranks, all the good laughs I used to get. I haven't done one in so long, to be totally honest with you. I haven't lost my zest for a quick laugh. I've been so preoccupied with other things, I've become a mature adult now. But I do have a couple in my bag of tricks I haven't pulled out yet. I've heard of these being used. I'm just going to try my hand at them. But I can't reveal any of my newest tricks.

But I used to have a blast doing them. You know, it was always bad when someone got me back.

 Q. Who or what inspires you or gives you inspiration in life?

BRETT FAVRE: I know it's been well-documented, but my father was so instrumental in my career and my life. It didn't take him dying for me to realize that. I knew beforehand. But sometimes in passing, you sort of reflect on all the ways that a person was important to you.

But he was my coach, he was my dad. And all I ever did, and my two brothers ever did growing up, was football and baseball. And he coached us in every one of them. So there's a lot of players out there who had their fathers who were obviously an instrumental part of their career and life, and I don't want to say that my dad was any more than the next guy, but that's all we knew.

I mean, I look back, in some ways, I wouldn't trade it for anything, but it was almost sad because that's what we talked about. When we sat at the table to eat, that's what we talked about. Saturdays and Sundays came around, he coached Friday night football.  Before we went to college, we got up, we had to work out in the yard, then after that we'd all have us a big football game or baseball game, whichever was in season.

I mean, that's all I knew. It's unfortunate that he's not going to be able to see the end of my career. At least he got to see the better part of it and know that he meant so much to my career.

The same things that my family has had to go through with my wife here recently, it really makes it easier because as difficult as football is, you know, it's just a small part of life. These other things I've had to deal with are real.

 Q. When you have a tough time against a team, the next time you see them, do you have any extra motivation?

BRETT FAVRE: No, no. You play your best. If it isn't good enough, it isn't good enough. I can't hold it against them that they beat us.

 Q. With all the ups and downs and injuries at quarterback, what do you attribute the 200 straight to?

BRETT FAVRE: I'm sure luck, a lot of luck. I think hard work. I think at this stage in my career, I don't work any harder than the next guy. Early part of my career, I mean, I was -- oh, God, I was almost a weight room junky. I was also man about town, too. I had to kind of offset it.

The way I play the game is a big part of it, too. I honestly believe that. I mean, I really don't know if there's a secret formula. I've been asked that question thousands of times. I always answer with the way I play the game.

 Q. What do you mean?

BRETT FAVRE: I think mechanically speaking, if you were going to teach a young quarterback say coming into high school, a kid with a lot of talent, who has maybe a chance, not only for college football, but maybe the pros. Mechanically speaking, you want to give him a basis of where to start. You would not take me. Mechanically speaking, I'm about as unsound from a quarterback guru's perspective, and there's a lot of them out there. I was never taught mechanics.

My dad was a running football coach. I'd say, "What about throwing it, dad?" He'd say, "Get your ass in there and worry about blocking right now." That's the coaching points that I got.

So I probably escaped a lot of injuries by throwing with both feet off the ground, by back-pedaling when I'm throwing, by leaving the pocket when I'm throwing. And also playing with -- I never, ever have been concerned about injury. And I know that sounds crazy, but if I'm asked to block, I'll block. There's sometimes when Ahman breaks it back or something, I have a split-second decision to make and I block.

I think guys, if you play in the pre-season is a good example, if you play not to get hurt, then there's a good chance you're going to get hurt. I think that speaks for itself. Or teams play not to lose, more than likely something bad's going to happen.

And I've always played the game to win, and I worry about only what I can control, and that's trying to lead the team to victory. I'm not worried about, "What if I'm going to get hit from the backside, protecting my knees," all that stuff. I think that plays a big part of it.

 Q. What do you consider your best memory from football at this point?

BRETT FAVRE: I would have to say the obvious answer would be the Super Bowl, which is every player's - I would think. You get into this game because you love it, but if you really consider yourself a team player, willing to do whatever it takes, then the ultimate would be the Super Bowl.

But individual things do not come to mind. I think of celebrating with my team. Like the other night, that was such a special win. And to most people it would seem like, "They just won another game." There's so many great things that have happened to me because of the Green Bay Packers, the teams that I played with.

But I would have to say the Super Bowl.

 Q. Do you really realize the impact that you've had on the Green Bay Packer organization? Many people talk about the Dallas Cowboys being America's team. Your style of play, if you were to look at it right now, people would probably say that the Green Bay Packers are America's team right now. What do you have to say about that?

BRETT FAVRE: It's not for me to decide. You sound like my wife. So often she tries to make me aware, as she says, the impact that you have not only on football fans, but just people in general. I mean, I almost go into a corner and hide. I almost don't want to be aware. I don't know why.

We talked about this at the start of the interview. I've always considered myself a football player, and that's it, not an ambassador to the league or as a spokesman for this or that.

I'm very proud of the fact that I have remained the same and have played this game. When people say, "How do you want to be remembered?" I guess this is the best example I can give. In my mind, the best way to be remembered is, I could see a man with his son sitting in the stands and talking and he says, "If I was able to play the game, that's the way I would play it." Whether you like me or not, whether you're pulling for my team or the opposing team, they say, "I can't help but appreciate the way that guy plays. He plays it." I could almost see myself, Joe Blow down there who works at the gas station, could say, "If I was able to play, I could see myself playing that way. He plays it a certain way."

People appreciate that, maybe more people tune in, great. But that's not my intention. I think people feed off of that. People are not stupid. If you're full of BS, they'll see it. I think what you see is what you get with me. And if that's worth the price of admission, then so be it.

 Q. You said the Super Bowl is your greatest memory. This game on Monday night is a special game in your career. Do you think this game, not with relation to the Super Bowl, but do you think this game will be as exciting as the Super Bowl was for you?

BRETT FAVRE: For me every game is exciting, regardless of who I play. Sometimes there's more hoopla surrounding a game than there is the next. But I have always -- I personally know how difficult it is to do because I see it every week. Guys get up for one team. They put all their eggs in one basket. The next game they're almost flat.

One of the reasons I'm still sitting here talking to you going into my 200th straight start is that every game to me has carried the same amount of enthusiasm and meaning as the next.

Now, yes, the Super Bowl is the Super Bowl. It's the pinnacle of any season. But I don't know if I could get up for that game any more than I got up for this Texans game last week. And because of that, it's enabled me to play at a high level week in and week out.

So this game will be no different Monday night than it was any other game. I mean, I want to win this game as badly coming up Monday night as I have any other game. But I don't treat it any definitely than the next.

 Q. Is this Packers team a Super Bowl-caliber team?

BRETT FAVRE: I think we are. But all you have to do is look at 1 and 4. 1 and 4 is not Super Bowl caliber. Everybody thought I was crazy for some of the things I said in pre-season. I stood behind them then, I stand behind them now. Talent-wise, we're as talented as any team in the league. We're as talented as the '96 Super Bowl team. But we're inexperienced in a lot of areas.

If this team plays the way they played the last, four or five weeks or the way we played against Carolina, yes. If we play the way we did in the four-game stretch that we lost, no, we won't even make the playoffs. There's no guarantee we'll make the playoffs up to this point.

What I said preseason, I stand by today: If we don't play up to our capabilities, we won't be in the playoffs. And we've dug ourselves a hole that's very difficult, and history has shown it's almost impossible to come out of. So, you know, we have a long ways to go, but we have kind of fought back to respectability.

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