Favre: This is a special place

Packers fans showed their love for Brett Favre during Friday's Fan Fest. In so many words, Favre told the fans he loved them just as much.

Favre was given a rousing, standing ovation when he was introduced Friday night in the Lambeau Field Atrium. Asked how he has kept his zeal for the game at this advanced stage of his career, Favre credited the fans.

"Most of the time I feel young, but the other times I don't feel so young," said Favre, who confirmed he will return for his 15th NFL season. "I love playing this game. I'm not saying this because of all the people here: There's no other place in professional football, or professional sports, where you can have a scrimmage and sell out. There's no other place where can you have (Fan Fest) and have the turnout that they have. I really mean that. I'm not blowing smoke. The people here know that this is a special place."

Favre dropped no hints about whether he will play beyond 2005. He did, however, sound like a man who knows the end is drawing near and plans on savoring these final moments.

"I realize I'm doing something that I can only do for a small time in my life. I might as well enjoy it as long as I can. Before you know it, it's gone. I would love to win another Super Bowl, but just to have the chance to throw a touchdown pass at Lambeau Field, and be associated with the fans here ..." Favre said, his words being drowned out by the fans' applause.

"I'm one of the few guys who's aware of what I'm able to do, and the surroundings and what this means. Some guys, before they know it, they're gone, and they think, ‘God, if I could have just held on to the moment.' Well, I'm doing that and I'm holding on for as long as I can."

When guards Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera defected in free agency last week, there was some concern those losses would push Favre to retire. Obviously, that wasn't the case.

"First of all, it's part of the game. More than anything, I'll miss those guys because of their friendship. They were great players. You could count on them day in and day out. They meant a great deal not only to my career, but to this team. But the unfortunate side of this business is you lose guys. You learn to deal with it. You have to accept it.

"I would love to have them back. We were fortunate the last two, three, four years to have our starting offense together year in and year out. In some ways we got spoiled. Now we just have to find a way to replace them. It will be difficult to do. Guys like that are hard to replace, but I know Ted and Mike will do a great job of finding guys.

"You see teams like New England who are successful year in and year out and you can't name a lot of guys on their team. You find guys who can play and who can give you a level of consistency. You never replace Marco and Mike Wahle and Frank Winters and guys like that, but you go out and find a way to try and get better."

Asked about his hopes for the 2005 season, Favre sounded hopeful but he didn't offer any of the "Super Bowl or it's a bust" proclamations, like he did before training camp last season. However, Favre made it clear that the losses of Wahle, Rivera and safety Darren Sharper shouldn't give the team a defeatist attitude.

"I meant what I said last year," Favre said. "This team is very capable. Two years ago, we were one play away from getting to championship game. There's no reason why we shouldn't get better. Last year, at times we took a step back. ... For whatever reason, we didn't win one or two of those games we should have won. And that could have made a big difference. I still feel like this team, with the core players we have coming back, the sky's the limit. I don't want to make predictions. I never have. But should expect a Super Bowl and nothing else. That's the only way for us to look at it."

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