Favre notebook: Veteran has Favre's last pass

Jim Kelly, Frank Winters, John Madden and Favre clone Geoff Jenkins are among the legions who weigh in on Favre's retirement.

The ball from the ill-fated final pass of Brett Favre's career belongs to an Iraq war veteran who lost both legs in a roadside bomb.

Lt. Col. Greg Gadson, who made an inspirational speech that helped the New York Giants turn around their season, was at Lambeau Field when Favre and the Packers lost to the Giants in the NFC championship game.

To pay tribute, Corey Webster, whose interception led the Giants to the winning field goal, gave the ball to Gadson.

"That Saturday practice before the Super Bowl, I told Corey he could have the ball back," Gadson said in quotes provided by the Giants on Tuesday. "I said, ‘Just let me know and you can have it back,' but he told me that he wanted me to keep it, and that really symbolized to me what this Giants team was about," Gadson said. "That was such an unselfish act."

Gadson said he'll miss watching Favre play.

"He should be proud of the run he had last season. Getting his team to the championship game just shows what type of competitor he is," Gadson said.

Going hunting

Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly may be the big winner with Favre's retirement.

"I remember talking to him a couple of years ago, and I said, ‘When you retire, we're going to go hunting," Kelly told the Associated Press, recalling a conversation between the two when the Packers played at Buffalo in 2006. "And he said, ‘You'll be one of the first people I'll talk to about going hunting.' So, I look forward to that. But I'm going to miss watching him play."

Like many, Kelly was particularly taken with Favre's consecutive-games streak. While Favre started 275 consecutive games, including the playoffs, Kelly managed to stay healthy for only four seasons.

"It amazes me that he was able to go that long and not miss any games," Kelly said. "Being a quarterback's not always about touchdown passes. It's longevity, consistency. Yeah, he had his ups and downs, just like most people would. But his longevity, being able to stay in there and do what he did, he definitely ranks in the top."

Bag of donuts

One of Favre's best friends was former Packers center Frank Winters, who talked to the Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss.

"Brett really matured in the Super Bowl season," said Winters, who was Favre's center from 1993 to 2000. "We were a veteran team with some older guys like Reggie White. We all played our part, just like Brett. It was good to have a young quarterback like Brett who could perform like he did. We might have been a veteran team, but he played a huge part in that game. He was our leader and he made the game fun.

"It was something that you cherish the rest of your life. Brett had a great career and he made a lot of players around him better."

Holmgren's thoughts

Favre matured from gunslinger into three-time NFL MVP under the tutelage of Mike Holmgren, who was the Packers' coach from 1992 to 1998.

Favre's last victory came against Holmgren's Seahawks in a Jan. 12 playoff game at snowy Lambeau Field.

"Brett's career accomplishments will be measured among the greats of the game for the balance of time," Holmgren said in a statement released by the Seahawks. "He truly was as gifted a player as I have ever seen, and as proud and amazed as I am of what Brett has accomplished on the playing field.

"The thing that impresses me the most is what kind of a man and leader he has become off the field since I have known him. I have taken great joy in watching him develop as a person and father — perhaps even more so — than as a coach watching his quarterback."

Hero retires

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo spent much of his childhood watching Favre, and modeled his game in part on Favre's ad-lib style.

"His style of play was as unique as it was effective," Romo said. "I admired his skills, his leadership, and especially his love for playing the game. You knew he was having fun when he played, and that made him fun to watch. He set the standard at the position for a long time."

Good riddance

One team who won't miss Favre is the Chicago Bears. Even though the Bears swept last year's season series, Favre has regularly tamed the so-called Monsters of the Midway.

At one point, he won 19 of 22 games against the Bears, and his 12-3 career record at Chicago (.800 winning percentage) was better than his 88-28 (.759) at Lambeau.

"I think this announcement comes about 17 years too late, and I don't know if I will completely believe it until Green Bay opens the season without No. 4 lining up under center," Bears coach Lovie said. "In all seriousness, no one has given more to our game than Brett Favre. There is no player I respect more. He is one of the all-time greats to ever play in the NFL."

It only looks like Favre is playing

Geoff Jenkins was known as much for his likeness to Favre as he was his play in the outfield while a member of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Jenkins, now in Philadelphia, said he was "crushed" by news of Favre's retirement.

"He's a Green Bay icon who obviously accomplished a lot, but he's not a guy who seemed driven by (individual records), Jenkins said. "Everyone enjoyed watching him play. He had a great career."

Jenkins has said he's often been approached by autograph seekers who hand him Favre memorabilia to sign. Sometimes he plays along. Sometimes, he even gets a free dinner.

"It probably started the day I got there," Jenkins said. "(The waiter) will say, ‘The check's been paid,' or they will be drop a note on the table saying, ‘You had some great games last year.' It was my first year (in Milwaukee), so it couldn't be me."

Boom!

For better or worse, few broadcasters lavished more praise on Favre than did NBC's John Madden.

Writing on NBC.com, Madden said noted how strange it will be to not have No. 4 behind center in Green Bay, and said the Packers most likely will no longer be a prime-time staple.

"That's the thing. That's a big loss," Madden wrote. "I always said that if you were going to make a monument to the NFL, it would be the Green Bay Packers and Lambeau Field. I think that changed to ‘Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers.'

"He brought that franchise back and brought it back to being Titletown. There was a pretty big gap in between Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr and Paul Hornung and Brett Favre, and he brought back the history and tradition and all those things. We're gonna miss that. I don't know what happens to Green Bay's schedule now when you have no Brett Favre as a draw for a network. I don't think it stays the same."

Steve Lawrence is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com


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