- Rob Demovsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre had any concern over how he would be received when he returns to Lambeau Field next week for the first time since retiring from the NFL for good following the 2010 season, that was eased when all 67,000 tickets to watch Favre's induction on the stadium's video boards sold out.
"When it sold out so quickly, I got goose bumps," Favre said in an interview with ESPN.com.
Favre talked about that and a variety of topics in advance of his July 18 induction into the Packers Hall of Fame.
Here's an edited transcript of that interview:
What do you think this is going to be like returning to Lambeau as a member of the Packers family again?
Favre: I've thought about that a bunch, and I guess the best analogy that I can think of is it's the closest thing to playing. My feeling right now when I think about it is nervous, not scared but anxiety, good anxiety. Heck, when it sold out so quickly, I got goose bumps. If I had any doubts whatsoever leading up, which I really didn't, that was all answered with that. I don't mean this in a negative way, but I'll be glad when it's over because the buildup has been so big. It's kind of like when I was a kid -- you may have been like this too -- you couldn't wait for Christmas and the closer it got, the more excited you got. Then it was like over, and it was like 'Wow, now what?' In some respects this kind of feels like that. This is kind of a culmination of, in my opinion, a wonderful career and one in which I wouldn't change anything. The fans have, by selling it out and just the excitement that I've felt and seen and heard from the fans is more than I could've ever dreamed of.
The last time you were there as a Packer was the day in 2008 when you met with coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson, and then you drove away and no one knew what was going to happen. What feeling did you have when you left?
Favre: I think at some point what crossed my mind was, 'How did it ever get to this point?' To be arguably one of the most successful players in Packers history, and I would think [a player who was] well-received by the fans, especially up to that point, you're just thinking, 'How did it get to this point?' Of course, we've talked about that, and I take my share of the blame as well, but it was just hard. It was a surreal feeling. I have to admit, when I left, I left a lot of friends. There were a fair amount of players that I had been with for quite a while, but more the personnel. Even though I'm not going to write a speech out -- that's not my nature -- I will address those names and those people in that building. Those people have and still do mean a great deal to me. That was probably the hardest thing. It wasn't so much the football -- and I will address that, too, when I talk to the crowd -- it's more about the people, and I truly mean that. When I left, it was like leaving family and never knowing if you're going to be back.
You were in McCarthy's office for quite a bit of that night, right?
Favre: I don't know how long I was there. It was most of the day, and then they came over to my house. Mike had practice that afternoon and then came over. I went over there that morning not knowing how things were going to play out. I went in and saw [equipment manager] Red [Batty] and [trainers] Pepper [Burruss] and Flea [Bryan Engel] and that whole group and eventually worked my way up to Mike's office and Ted's office.
What were those conversations like with Mike and Ted? Rumors were that they were heated.
Favre: It was mixed. It was for the most part cordial. It was like, 'What do we do?' That was the million dollar question, I guess. I got a sense that there wasn't many options on my part. It was frustrating, and I know it was frustrating for them as well. ... When I left, it was like, I don't know if we're any closer than where we need to be when I got there that morning. Emotions were running high, but all in all I think it was pretty cordial, considering the circumstances.
In the most recent issue of Sports Illustrated, you said you could have avoided some of of the problems. How? By not retiring so soon after the 2007 season?
Favre: Well, yeah, first and foremost that would've solved a lot of problems. Maybe it would've created another set of problems if, come July, you say you just don't have it in you and you're not going to play. I think things would've been better at that point than they would've been the way it was done. But yeah, I would say that more than anything would've solved a lot of the problems. But I think better communication throughout the whole process. I can't speak for Mike or Ted and how they did things and how they feel about it.
When did you feel like the relationship with the Packers was mended?
Favre: Like with Ted, I think my family had more, I don't know what the word would be, rage or animosity, than I did. Two times this has happened -- after we lost to the Saints when I was with the Vikings and after this breakup with the Packers happened -- my family would say, 'Why aren't you as mad as we are?' For the most part, I think I held my emotions more in check, at least I like to think so. Don't get me wrong, I think from my end it was more just a simple way of putting it. I felt like I wasn't good enough to play there but was good enough to not play against them, and that bothered me. But every time I played against Ted, or when I was with the Jets and threw six touchdown passes against the Cardinals, which was the only time in my career I ever did that, Ted sent me a message. It was always: 'Nice job. Congratulations. Amazing game.' The day that I left in my meeting with Ted, he has a way of killing you with kindness. He doesn't say a lot, but I've known Ted ever since I got to Green Bay and always got along with him, but I can't say that things were mended [at that point], but I responded to texts in a polite way myself. And Mike, there came a point where he and I started exchanging messages, I think it was after I got done playing.
So there's no more hard feelings?
Favre: No. Not at all. There's no hangover. In fact, I don't know how much visiting I'm going to get to do, probably not much, but I look forward to seeing a lot of faces that I haven't seen in quite a while.
So you don't have a speech planned or written for the Hall of Fame induction?
Favre: You know, I've been thinking about it. I've talked a bunch in my life, never obviously given a speech of this magnitude. I look forward to it, and I think what I'll probably say initially is: 'I thought about writing something down. I thought about writing a script, but you know what? I figured I'd wing it sort of like I played, so just bear with me.' It's only fitting. I don't want to sit there and make it longer than the whole event is anyway -- and it's going to be long -- but I do want to acknowledge a lot of people and just maybe tell a few funny stories, kind of keep it as lighthearted as possible. It could be 20 minutes, it could be an hour, I don't know.
Who is presenting you?
Favre: Frank [Winters] is going to present me. I think Ron [Wolf] talks right before him. I'm not sure if Mike [Holmgren] is talking. I know Ron and Mike are going to be there. I was impressed that those two would be there. That's awful nice of them because I never reached out to them -- Ron and I talk all the time, and Mike and I exchange messages from time to time -- but I never said, 'Hey would you come?' In fact, I never asked anyone. I kind of feel uneasy about that I guess because I kind of feel uneasy when people ask me.
If you had to put a list together of your most memorable moments with the Packers, where would you start?
Favre: I get asked that question it seems like more than I care to answer, and I never know the right answers. There's so many, and I find that maybe I say something and someone says, 'What about this one?' And then I'm like, 'Oh yeah, right.' Obviously the first game I ever played in, in my opinion, gets overlooked probably way more than it should. How can I not put that high on the list? It was ugly but so beautiful at the same time. Who would've thought it that it would be 16 years later before I ever left the field? The Super Bowl, obviously. Winning the [NFC] championship game there against Carolina. I don't know, it's endless. I could think of something every year. Oakland, when my dad had passed away. There's just so many memorable ones. Denver in 2007, in overtime, the first play, hitting Greg [Jennings for a touchdown], I think about that one quite a bit. The way that game ended, I don't care how long you play, hardly ever will it go that way. There's just so many good Bear games. I don't know."
Speaking of the Bears, there was that five-touchdown game against them in '95 after you badly sprained your ankle the week before.
Favre: After what I would say was, for me, a very serious injury, I always played [well] the next week. I can say games after I was injured would be one of my memorable moments, and I don't know how many that was, but after I broke my thumb against St. Louis [in 2003] then next week on "Monday Night Football" against Minnesota, I played one of the best games I ever played in my life with a broken thumb. We never could win there with a good thumb, and yet we won and I played lights out. You know, 16 years there's a lot of plays, a lot of games, a lot of ups, fortunately not as many downs. Great memories.
Of the down moments, there was that St. Louis playoff game in 2002 with six interceptions. How did that happen?
Favre: What I would say to that -- and I totally agree with you -- but not a year goes by, whether I was playing or as just a fan watching, there will always be at least one game where you say, 'I thought I'd never see that.' I think this past year, New England ... got just crushed by Kansas City, and they were ready to run [Bill] Belichick and [Tom] Brady out of town. And then they won the Super Bowl. Sometimes you'll have a game where you're on the winning side of something like that, where everything you do works. And the Oakland game [after his dad died] is a good example. I made some terrific throws in that game, really some of the best throws I ever made. I also made some throws that were bad decisions that were thrown up in coverage, and Oakland never came close to touching them. That St. Louis game was like when it rains, it pours. I remember I had a couple of picks in that game, believe it or not, I was actually going to take the checkdown because they played a real conservative Tampa 2 defense and they relied on their offense to score a ton of points, which they did extremely well. Even when I was playing smart, if you will, they would tip it or we would tip it. Nothing we did was working, and that happens.