It's hard to believe that the little boy we raised has done all this. -- Irv Favre, Brett's father
b. Oct. 10, 1969
Professional football is big business. Teams spend millions of dollars scouting draft picks, analyzing college game films, and conducting background checks. They put players through physical tests to measure their height, their speed, their strength, agility, and stamina. Prospective draft picks must take an intelligence test and undergo psychological profiling. But every NFL general manager, every NFL scout, and every coach will tell you that you can't measure the size of a player's heart. If they could, it's quite possible that the player with the largest heart would be one Brett Lorenzo Favre.
If I had wanted to showcase my son, I could have let him throw.
But I thought I did a good job in that what I was doing was in the best interest of the team.
-- Irv Favre, Brett's H.S. coach
Born in Gulfport, Mississippi
to a pair of school teachers, as far back as high school everyone knew that Brett Favre
had a cannon for an arm. His dad, Irv, was also the high school football coach. Brett, like his brothers, played quarterback on the football team. But Irv Favre could always count on having good running backs and not necessarily good quarterbacks. So Irv ran the Wishbone
- a run-oriented offense. One of the school's signature plays at the time was a pitchout with Brett Favre as the lead blocker. As a result, Brett didn't pass very much. Still he earned a football scholarship to the University of Southern Mississippi
Brett won the starting quarterback job at USM as a freshman. By the summer of 1990, as he prepared for his senior season, he was fast becoming a legend at Southern Mississippi. But then, while driving home one July evening, he was blinded by an oncoming car. He lost control and his car went off the road and hit an embankment.
The injuries were serious - a concussion, cracked vertebra, and eventually emergency surgery to remove 30 inches of his intestine. The doctors didn't know if he would live, much less play another game. Yet barely one month later Brett Favre was back on the field leading his Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles to a 27-24 upset victory over perennial national power Alabama. An almost too literal example of his intestinal fortitude.
Favre's college exploits were good enough for the Atlanta Falcons to take him in the 2nd round of the 1991 NFL draft. As a rookie Favre didn't take the NFL by storm. He didn't study, spent too much time partying, and generally languished on the sidelines. His few brief minutes on the field were atrocious. He attempted five passes, completed none of them, and two were intercepted. When his first NFL season ended, Brett Favre was not exactly on the road to stardom.
But up in Green Bay, Wisconsin the Packers were shaking up their entire organization. They named Ron Wolf as their new general manager. Wolf, in turn, brought in Mike Holmgren as the coach. Both Wolf and Holmgren felt the Packers needed a good young QB to build the team around. So, on February 10, 1992 -- in a trade that left many people scratching their heads -- Ron Wolf sent a 1st round draft choice to the Atlanta Falcons for the Falcon's third string quarterback -- Brett Favre.
Favre began his first year with the Packers as the backup QB, behind Don Majkowski. But in just the third game of the season -- against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 20 1992 -- Majkowski injured his ankle and Favre came in and led the Packers to a thrilling 27-20 come from behind victory. Not only did Favre validate Wolf's estimation of him, since that day he has started every game at quarterback for the Packers! In all, over 200 consecutive games - an ironman streak at the game's most demanding and perilous position that rivals any in modern sport. During Favre's streak sixteen teams (half the league) have started more than 10 quarterbacks.
It wasn't always easy. Along the way their were run-ins with head coach Mike Holmgren, doubting fans, an admitted alcohol problem, and eventually addiction to painkillers. But Favre emerged as one of the NFL's elite players and one of its most recognized names.
Brett Favre has won three National Football League Most Valuable Player Awards. He's led the Green Bay Packers to two Super Bowls and his prescence alone makes them a viable Super Bowl contender every season. His name can be found at or near the top of a whole slew of NFL and Packer records. His celebrity status has led to appearances in movies, television shows, and TV commercials.
While the NFL has many great athletes and many star players, Brett Favre seems to play with an attitude that sets him apart. Favre brings a gunslinger's mentality to the game. He plays football with a wild, reckless, joyous abandon that is evident for everyone to see. Brett Favre is a lineman in a QB's body; he's a little kid stuck inside a grown-up man; he's a throwback to a different era; he's just a country boy from Mississippi.
Brett Favre is the NFL's ultimate competitor. No one playing professional football has a bigger heart. Tragically ironic then, that on December 21, 2003, at just 58 years of age, Irv Favre's heart unexpectedly gave out. Brett Favre lost his father on the eve of a must-win game for the Packers, a Monday Night Football contest against the Oakland Raiders.
Losing a parent is usually one of the most traumatic events in our lives. When one is especially close to a parent it makes it all the more difficult. Irv Favre was Brett's father, his coach, and his friend. The whole sportsworld would have understood if Brett had left the team to grieve with his family in Mississippi. Yet after talking to his family, Brett decided to go ahead and play.
Brett Favre is tough. To play in over 200 straight games he's had to be. In an NFL season quarterbacks get bruised and battered. Brett has played with strained tendons
, torn ligaments, and broken bones. In fact, he was playing that 2003 season with a broken bone in his throwing hand - an injury that would have put most quarterbacks on the disabled list. But no one knew if he could play under the strain of a broken heart
I sure hope Brett can win this game for his daddy.
-- Izell French, Brett's maternal grandmother
Grandma needn't have worried. Brett Favre
has earned the admiration and respect of teammates and opponents alike throughout his career. Once again he would show why. On that night in Oakland, on Monday Night Football
-- the NFL's centerstage, Brett Favre threw for 311 yards and 4 touchdowns - in the first half alone ! It was a performance that befitted a future Hall of Famer. A performance that amazed broadcasters and brought tears to the eyes of fans and teammmates alike. It was a performance that honored the memory of his father.
He played recklessly, exultantly, jubilantly.
He played like only Brett Favre can play.
He played with heart.
and thanks to sid
- who goaded me into noding this
generic-man suggests a pronunciation guide: Favre is actually pronounced as if the 'r' were in front of the 'v' - as if it were spelt 'Farve'