Monday, March 19, 2007
Favre Arrives in Green Bay
Country boy heads due north
By BOB MCGINN
The Milwaukee Journal
Feb. 12, 1992
Green Bay, Wis. — Southern-born and bred Brett Favre knows he's in for the cultural and climatic shock of a lifetime. Why? The Green Bay Packers' new quarterback claimed not to know whether the city had 1 million or 100,000 residents, and shuddered to hear that the temperature was a rather balmy 32 degrees Tuesday.
But don't fret for Brett. Northern Wisconsin might as well be a foreign country compared to his tiny home town of Kiln in the delta region of Mississippi, but as long as coach Mike Holmgren is there, Green Bay is fine with Favre. Of all the coaches who stopped in Hattiesburg, Miss., last spring to work out Favre at Southern Mississippi, Holmgren might have made the most lasting positive impression on the colorful, chatty quarterback. "We sat up in the stands for about 30 minutes afterward and he just seemed like a great guy," Favre said. "He told me, 'Look, I don't foresee us drafting a quarterback but I really like you.' On the phone today I told him, 'We're back together. Hopefully we can go out and kick butt together.'"
Favre will get that opportunity, which he didn't foresee happening with Chris Miller and Billy Joe Tolliver ahead of him on the Atlanta depth chart. After the Falcons acquired Tolliver from San Diego in late August for a fifth-round pick, Favre was relegated to third string. He ran the scout team but took no snaps with the No. 1 offense.
Leaving His Southern Roots
The trade meant Favre will have to sell his house in Atlanta and leave his Southern roots. When Falcons vice president Ken Herock informed him of the trade, Favre was a bit upset. Later, after calls from Holmgren and general manager Ron Wolf, he regained his enthusiasm. "I'm kind of in shock, a good old country boy going due north," Favre said. "But the good thing I see in the trade is a team that really believes in me. There were games Chris Miller played really bad and they stuck with him, which kind of disappointed me a little bit. Not that I could have played better, but just give me a chance. That's all I'm asking for in Green Bay."
Favre, 22, said he admired Don Majkowski for displaying toughness throughout his career and Mike Tomczak for his passing accuracy against Atlanta last season. "It's going to be a tough three-way battle," Favre said. "I really think I can play. How soon? I don't know. A lot depends on the coach and the guys surrounding you."
Favre's time almost came in July 1990, when the car he was driving flipped over several times about a mile from his home, located near the resort towns of Gulfport and Biloxi. He told police he swerved onto the gravel shoulder after being blinded by the lights of an oncoming car. His injuries included a cracked vertebra, a concussion and numerous cuts.
Then, about three weeks later, he was rushed to a hospital for emergency surgery in which 30 inches of his intestine were removed. Five weeks after leaving the hospital, he led Southern Mississippi to an upset victory over Alabama.
Meanwhile, Back in Kiln...
Back in Kiln, the Favre legend only continued to grow. Most of the action in the one-stoplight burg occurred at the VFW Hall, where folks feed five slot machines in a back room. "Around here, there's people who can tear down an engine by the time they're 11 or 12," Favre told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last year. "To tell the truth, you pretty much do what your daddy did before you. Mostly, the people work on cars all day, party at night and wrap it all up with a few barroom brawls."
Favre's role model was his father, who coached the high school football team. Scouts have compared Favre to a spirited quarterback from the past, Hall of Famer Bobby Layne. So long as the player was a winner, Favre approves. He has disdain for quarterbacks who amass statistics but don't win.
In Atlanta, Favre said he was miscast in a run-and-shoot offense that demanded rollout passing. He appeared excited about returning to a conventional system in which his ability to throw downfield will be accentuated. "I have a lot to learn, not only about this offense but about the NFL," Favre said. "But I'm a big guy with a strong arm. I'm an intelligent guy when it comes to football. And I'm a competitor.
"There won't be any adjustment for me because all my life I've been a drop-back passer. Playing one year in a run-and-shoot, not getting any practice time, it wasn't like I changed any. Hey, this offense is going to be for me."
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How many people thought in 1992 that he'd turn out to be a Hall of Famer?