Favre, the Green And Gold Standard
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Jeff Bower still sees the big-armed, competitive sophomore he inherited two decades ago at the University of Southern Mississippi each time he watches Brett Favre lead the Green Bay Packers on television. Favre is no longer the raw prospect Bower infused with knowledge of defensive coverages and passing routes, but certain trademarks remain.
As Favre progressed from an uninhibited, rebellious rookie with the Atlanta Falcons to a gunslinging, Super Bowl-winning folk hero with the Packers, he managed to display both the savvy of a veteran escape artist and the exuberance of a mischievous adolescent.
Even now, a season after the season that was supposed to be his last, Favre pumps his fists after evading a pass rush and firing another touchdown strike. Seventeen years into his NFL career, he still gallops to the end zone and celebrates by lifting his receiver.
"I don't think anything's changed," said Bower, Favre's offensive coordinator at Southern Miss and now the university's head football coach. "He's always been that way. It amazes me. It's refreshing to me."
This season has been refreshing to Favre, who will turn 38 tomorrow. After enduring a 4-12 season in 2005 and an 8-8 mark in 2006, Favre and the Packers, who play the Washington Redskins on Sunday at Lambeau Field, are 4-1.
Although the Packers fell, 27-20, Sunday night to the Chicago Bears in a game that featured a late interception, Favre has completed 67.1 percent of his passes while throwing for 1,527 yards, 9 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Favre also is the NFL's all-time leader in games won (152) and touchdown passes (423) by a quarterback.
Until Sunday's loss, the troubling tendency of the previous two seasons, when Favre threw more interceptions (47) than touchdowns (38), had not been evident. Against Chicago, though, Favre passed for one touchdown and was intercepted twice. Still, his first-half play Sunday was stellar; he passed for 243 yards in his best first-half performance since the 2003 Monday night game against Oakland the day after his father's death.
"I'd like to tell you there's some big secret, but there is none," Favre said last week. "I understand the importance of no turnovers. I knew that five years ago, eight years ago, 10 years ago. I understand the importance of a good running game, but we've overcome that up to this point.
"I'd like to tell you something we haven't told you yet, but there's no big secret that's behind these doors."
Hiding his emotions has never been one of Favre's talents. When he is excited, the world knows it. Same goes for when he is disappointed. Even when Favre is undecided, torn between the reality he has dominated for so long and the reality he does not want to face, he allows the world a peek at his anguish.
After the final game of the 2006 season -- a 26-7 win against the Bears on New Year's Eve -- Favre was halted by NBC cameras as he left the field in Chicago. For most of the year, NFL observers had speculated as to whether the Packers' quarterback would call it a career at season's end.
At that moment on national television, Favre gave what many considered a significant hint as to which way he was leaning. He cried. And then he apologized for crying, saying he had promised he would not fall apart when the time came.