His rookie season in Atlanta had been a washout.
"All he did was drink beer and eat chicken wings for a year," said Falcons head coach Jerry Glanville. "He looked like the Pillsbury Doughboy."
And yet, in the eyes of Ron Wolf, Brett Favre was the man to return the Packers to glory.
Favre attracted attention, even pie-in-the-sky Heisman Trophy talk, with his gutty play and upset victories at Southern Mississippi University. After his senior season failed to meet expectations, Favre dropped a few notches with some NFL scouts -- but not with Wolf, who was director of player personnel for the New York Jets.
"All I could think of is that, about once a generation, a quarterback comes along who has this particular quality, and that's the ability to make it seem as though the whole field is tilting one way whenever he's out there," Wolf said.
That epiphany, next to the hiring of Vince Lombardi, would become the most important inspiration among Packer executives in the history of the franchise.
On Feb. 10, 1992, less than three months into his new job, Wolf seized his opportunity.
He traded a coveted first-round draft choice for the NFL version of the Pillsbury Doughboy.
No one was impressed.
"I said, 'OK. Whatever,' Favre recalled of being informed of the trade. "And I finished my crawfish and my beer."
But Favre turned the trade into one of the greatest in the history of sports. Even years later, however, he couldn't blame the early doubters.
"It looked like a good deal for Atlanta," he said. "Who would have known it would work out the way it did?
Like Favre, the Packers had performed miserably in 1991. They finished 4-12, failing to make the playoffs for the eighth straight year.
Initially, newly hired head coach Mike Holmgren kept Don "Majik" Majkowski, the blonde-locked, silver Mercedes-driving quarterback, as his starter. But he installed Favre as second string, believing he would get a chance to show his stuff at some point during the '92 season.
The wait wasn't long. In Game 3 against the Cincinnati Bengals, Favre and an even less-heralded player -- wide receiver Kitrick Taylor – hooked up to create one of the greatest moments in Lambeau Field history.
''Everyone, from that point on, felt like I could play," Favre said.
Early in the game, 275-pound defensive tackle Tim Krumrie, a former Wisconsin Badger, sacked Majkowski and landed on his left ankle, straining the ligaments. An overheated Favre went in.
"I felt like I had just taken a laxative. I was shaking all over," Favre recalled. "Thank goodness I managed to hold it in until the whole thing was over with."
In the fourth quarter, as he would do so many times in his career, Favre took control.
With less than 9 minutes left and the Bengals leading 20-10, Favre drove the team 88 yards in eight plays. He completed five of six passes, including a five-yard touchdown to star receiver Sterling Sharpe, making the score 20-17.
The Bengals added a field goal, extending their lead to 23-17.
The Packers got one more chance -- from their 8-yard-line, with 67 seconds and no time-outs remaining.
Favre didn't blink. He completed a short pass, then drove the Packers across mid-field by hitting Sharpe for 42 yards. Sharpe re-injured his bruised ribs on the play, however, and had to be replaced by Taylor, a newly signed free agent. Taylor remembered what Favre had said huddle: "We're going to score. We're going to get in the end zone.'"
From the Bengals' 35, Taylor ran the same "go" route that Sharpe had just run. This time, Favre pump-faked before firing a laser down the right sideline that didn't rise more than 12 feet off the ground. Taylor snatched it and dashed into the north end zone, tying the game at 23 with 13 seconds left.
With Favre holding for the first time, Chris Jacke added the extra point and the euphoric Packers claimed a 24-23 win.
This is what Packer fans had been yearning for: a fearless, blue-collar quarterback with a big heart who could win respect, and games, by going all-out on every play.
"As I was walking off the field," Favre said of the Bengals game, "I knew I'd have to be dead before I'd ever come out of the lineup again."
The legend had begun.
Brett Favre: A Packer Fan's Tribute is published by Cumberland House of Nashville. The book is available in bookstores, at Amazon.com and directly from the author, Tom Kertscher. To buy an autographed copy, e-mail Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org for details. Mention Packer Report and get a discount.