Favre quiets critics

Can we stop the retirement talk now? Maybe it was the sight of Brett Favre sprinting onto the field, sans helmet, to celebrate Al Harris' touchdown. Or maybe it was his TD strike to Robert Ferguson, as Favre at once put six points on the board and restored the confidence of a struggling receiver. Perhaps it was the way Favre exuded enthusiasm after the game as he took questions from the media for more than 20 minutes.

Pick any one of those reasons, or find another among the myriad highlights from the Packers' 52-3 obliteration of the Saints. Any way we look at it, Brett Favre does not, the look or sound of a man who wants to call it quits.

"I feel better," Favre said after the game. "There's only way to feel better and that's to win.

"The season wasn't over after last Monday night," Favre said. "I knew we had another chance, and we will have another chance after this one, and so on and so on. I always feel like there's one more play, if I had just one more play … I knew we were so close. We weren't getting outplayed, but it's just a matter of doing it. It felt good to get it done today."

Favre was 19-of-27 for 215 yards Sunday, with three touchdowns and a QB rating of 130.9. That's Brett Favre when he's not wearing defenders on his back as he tries to throw. That's Favre when the offensive line blocks well enough for the ground game to move forward. That's Favre when his receivers make spectacular catches and understand his confidence in them – veterans and newcomers alike.

That's also what happens when Favre has the lead – so much of a lead, in fact, that he spent the fourth quarter relaxing on the sidelines while Aaron Rodgers cut his NFL teeth. Back in the day, Favre used to watch the end of Packer blowouts on the sideline from time to time. That hasn't happened in awhile.

"It was very strange, because in the four games leading up, we've been fighting in the fourth quarter trying to win the game and we haven't done it . Just six days ago it came down to the last play. So I felt like I should have been out there," Favre said. "It didn't feel right. It felt good, but it didn't feel right. As I sat there I was thinking to myself, ‘you never know. ‘You just never know in this game. Who would have thought? I'm sure not too many people gave us much of chance to beat these guys. I'm sure our team was questioning if we could.

"This is a good example that anything can happen," Favre said. "If you just believe in what you're doing and believe in the guys who have to step up and hope that they believe in themselves, anything can happen. And that's what I was thinking about in the fourth quarter. Even at times when I questioned my own ability or questioned this team's direction, at times like this you know there is hope. We can't give up on ourselves.

The rap on Favre has always been that he tries to do too much. Last week with no one to run the ball and no time on the clock to do it anyway, Favre had to pass the Packers out of a hole and ended up about a split second and a great defensive play away from doing just that. It's a story that's been repeated too many times. This time, Favre got to craft his own tale, not just try to bale out the sorry situation that was already written. Either way, he said he'll play the same way every time.

"As long as I play, I'm going to give the people their money's worth. I'm going to leave it all on the field. Statistically speaking, it may not look it, but physically and mentally I give it my all. I always feel like I can change the game, but sometimes I'm faced with the reality that I can't do it all myself all the time, but I still believe it."

He has been most successful when the talent around him can get their own jobs done, leaving him to do his. That means the defense has to make stops and come up with takeaways, the running backs have to break tackles, move the pile forward and hang on to the ball. The o-line has to give him time and keep him healthy.

During the first four weeks of the season, that seemed like too much to ask. Sunday, the light went on. And like a proud parent who sees the good grades of a child who finally buckles down with his studies, Favre waxed philosophical when recounting the lessons learned.

"I've played long enough to know that if you do things right, if you practice and prepare and study and believe, eventually it will go your way," Favre said.

"I don't know when the point comes when you keep practicing hard, and keep believing and keep hearing thing said from the coaches and older players that if you keep doing things right way it will go your way, but if you keep losing at some point you start losing guys. They'll say ‘I see no results,'" Favre said. "I was concerned, as I was last year, that if we don't turn this around at some point it just becomes talk. It was nice to win the ball game and have things go our way so guys can say ‘okay, it can happen.' " Let's hope that the geniuses on sports talk radio predicting Favre's demise were watching and learning, too.

Laura Veras Marran

Note: Laura Veras Marran was raised in Green Bay and is a longtime sports writer from Kenosha, Wis. E-mail her at lvmarran@aol.com.

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