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January 23, 2002

Outtakes with Brett Favre

UNCUT OUTTAKES: A condensed version of Dan Patrick's interview with Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre appears in the Nov. 26 edition of ESPN The Magazine.

Brett Favre
Brett Favre won three straight league MVP awards (1995-97).
DP: Are you concerned about quarterbacks nowadays when they come out of college, that they don't have the opportunity to just sit and observe -- you've got to produce right now and if you don't, well, you're a bum and we're going to trade you. So the timetable for being a good quarterback has changed drastically.
BF: You're absolutely right. Fortunately for me I wasn't a first-round pick. I was the third pick for the Falcons that year. They drafted two guys in the first round, a defensive back and a receiver, and those guys got all the attention ... I didn't have a press conference. I didn't come in and meet the media and all that stuff like those guys. Cade McNown was a first pick for the Bears, not any different than Peyton Manning, Ryan Leaf, Michael Vick, on down the line. Just the tag of being the first pick for a team, you know, especially quarterback, so many expectations are put on you right away ... you're expected to be the savior.
DP: And they want you to do it right now, whereas any other position for the most part you can ease into the lineup. But if you're a QB, right now.
BF: That's exactly right, and that is tough. But the other side of it is, if a team drafts a quarterback high -- I'd say a top-five, top-ten pick -- they're putting a lot of money on that guy. You want to get some results quickly, and like you said, they want positive results now.
DP: But you weren't ready. Imagine if you started as a rookie.
BF: I wasn't ready. I wasn't ready, and I really wasn't ready when I got here to Green Bay [from the Falcons]. I mean, I had to start all over again. I was basically a rookie here because it was a new offense and I was thrust into the position sooner than I expected. Sooner than anyone else expected because the starter was hurt and I wasn't ready. I made some plays, luckily got away with it, and it helped me survive for a year or two. But had I failed in those first couple of games knowing that I wasn't ready, and got sent somewhere else, got cut, I would always look back and say if they'd have just given me a little more of a chance ... some guys are not getting that.

DP: You had three coaches in three years. Do head coaches have to get used to you or do you have to get used to them?
BF: I think it's a combination. You know, I think I was blessed, I know I was, to have a great coach in Mike Holmgren and see how things were done the right way. He was a great play-caller. He really was a fair coach, but he was also a disciplinarian ... I've been around some great coaches and it's really helped my career.
DP: Did you have to change for them, or did they have to change for you?
BF: I think we met in the middle. I think that's one of the reasons I've been as successful as I have, is that they've allowed me to do some of the things that I do well but also have asked me in return to give a little bit, and I've been able to do that. I feel like I'm a very coachable guy. I don't always agree with what I'm asked to do, but so what. I mean, in life that's the way it is, and I'm able to deal with it and we're able to meet in the middle. You know, it's not like pulling teeth. There are some times they call a play -- whether it be Holmgren or Mike Sherman or Ray Rhodes, whoever -- and I may not agree with it. But the chain of command has to work that way. The head coach has to be the leader of the team. As a player, I have a lot of responsibility as far as leadership is concerned, but I don't run the team. As long as I understand that, I'll be fine. Sometimes I think a veteran player who's been around for a long time and has achieved a lot of things feels like, you know, it's his way or the highway. More than likely that player will be gone before the coach ... I'm willing to learn no matter how long I've been in this game. I know I don't know it all, and I think coaches appreciate that and that's why I've been able to last this long.

DP: Can you be the MVP of the league if your team doesn't go far in the playoffs or dominate during the regular season? Can you go 8-8 and be the MVP?
BF: I think so, and I'm not necessarily talking about myself ... I see different players from different leagues talk about it from time to time. I saw an interview with Mike Piazza, and he talked about how several years ago he felt like that was his year to win the MVP. He didn't win it, and his comment was there are so many different votes for so many different players and everyone's view of an MVP is different. Most Valuable Player is not necessarily a guy who leads his team to the Super Bowl. A lot of factors go into a team going into the Super Bowl. Obviously you've got to have some pretty damn good players to get to the Super Bowl, and maybe one stands out more than the next. But you look around the league every year in any sport and you see a guy who just dominates the league, and his team may not be very good, but why not give it to that guy? It's no different than the Heisman Trophy. Sometimes it's given to the guy who has the best team.You know, Randy Moss, when he was at Marshall, he should have been the Heisman winner. He had 28 touchdown catches in one year. That's phenomenal. And he did it out of just a ho-hum school at the time. So I think your team could be 1-15 and you could be the MVP. It's not going to happen, but I don't see why it shouldn't.

DP: This year's Super Bowl is in New Orleans. You know what that means.
BF: We're supposed to go back?
DP: Yep.
BF: That's what everybody says ... I can't tell you how many people at home said hey, we've already got our ticket.
DP: Now it's up to you.
BF: Yes, but no pressure. You know, it would be great to go back. I mean, just to get to the Super Bowl was amazing, and especially to play it basically in my home town [a Louisiana native, Favre and the Packers beat the Patriots 35-21 in Super Bowl XXXI in New Orleans]. I mean, what more can you ask for ... I hadn't thought about it being in New Orleans and ... I hope we have a chance, and I think we're a better football team now than we were last year, but you never know. Who would have thought Baltimore and the Giants would have got there last year?

DP: Is there part of you, being a competitive guy, that wants a piece of the Ravens' defense?
BF: Not really. Reality sets in from time to time.
DP: So you're getting smarter.
BF: I am getting smarter. I don't know if that's good or bad.
DP: Like, you know, eight years ago you would have said, yes, let me take on Ray Lewis.
BF: You're probably right. Eight years ago I would have said that. I mean, they're a great defense, like Warren Sapp and the Bucs. I mean, I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. He gets on my nerves sometimes, but he's a damned good player. People say, "Man, you all just go toe-to-toe. I know you love it." I say, "No, I don't love it." I mean, I wish he was a wus, but he's not. But I appreciate the challenge. I appreciate the competition, because that's what makes this game great -- and I'm not scared of anybody or any defense. That doesn't mean I want to go up against them. And I think sometimes people get that confused. Hey, we're going to play great teams and great players week in and week out -- and the good players, the great players are ones who are not afraid of that situation. Who rise to the challenge in that situation. I feel like I do that. But it doesn't mean I enjoy it all the time.

DP: The Buccaneers are leaving the division after this year. Anything planned as a going away gift for Sapp?
BF: Uh, not as of yet. We haven't figured out how to stop his butt yet, but we're going to try to come up with something. He's damned good. Their defense is damned good.
DP: Better than the Ravens?
BF: I haven't played the Ravens in four or five years, but statistics in my opinion don't lie sometimes and their defense, I mean they were good last year. I don't see any reason why they shouldn't be as good this year.

Brett Favre
Brett Favre and the Packers won Super Bowl XXXI over the Patriots.
DP: Why do you guys do well in the cold and your opponents don't? As a QB, you're undefeated when the temperature is 34 or below at Lambeau. Is that because of you or because the teams going in there get caught up about playing in the cold?
BF: Well, I'd like to say it's me, but I think that's the easy way out. I haven't played bad in cold weather, but there have been games like Tampa this past year when it was cold and I didn't have one of my better games, but the rest of the team rose to the challenge. Tampa played well. They really did, and we got a couple of breaks here and there, but I think it's a mindset and it all starts with the head coach. Mike Holmgren used to say, "We've got to use this to our advantage." When teams come in here to play us, they know it's going to be cold and they're looking for the easy way out. If we can jump on them early, it's over ... I really believe that. ... It's cold to me too, it's cold for every player out there. But if you're going to play in it, and you have to, you might as well play well ... and I think that's the way we've handled it.

DP: Do you owe your success to the West Coast offense? If you were in a different system, would you have three MVPs?
BF: That's hard to say. I know the offense is a very successful offense. I mean, you look at Joe Montana, you look at Steve Young. Those two guys have put up unbelievable numbers and have won Super Bowls. The offense has catered to them some, but still, you have to make quick reads. You have to make great, accurate throws and you have to throw it on time and you have to be able to move around a little bit and make things happen. I feel like I fit that mold well, but more than the offense, I feel like my success is credited to the coaches I've had. Steve Mariucci, Marty Mornhinweg, Andy Reid, Mike Holmgren ... yes, I still have to play the offense and do the stuff on the field with my own decisions, with my own talent, but I think those guys have really helped me get to where I am today.
DP: Do you have another name for the West Coast offense?
BF: Now it's the Midwest offense ... I just thought of that. I don't think anyone else knows about that, but maybe I can start a little trend here.
DP: You know what? When I do the SportsCenter highlights, I'll say Favre is running the Midwest offense.
BF: There you go.

DP: Three favorite young NFL quarterbacks.
BF: I would say Peyton Manning, Daunte Culpepper ... oh, let's see ... Aaron Brooks. Of course, Aaron was here, so I'm a little biased there.
DP: Do you see anybody as you?
BF: For their sake, I hope not -- of course I can't run like Dante, but I think he's got a little bit of me in him, you know. I can't move around like him, but he's able to move around and make plays. He's got a big arm. I think Aaron Brooks can be that way. And unlike the last five or 10 years, there's a good crop of young quarterbacks in the league today. It's exciting to watch.

DP: What position would you ask the coach for a shot at?
BF: Offensive line. I've got the mentality to play it, and maybe I can get in and cut one of these guys who has been harassing me for all these years. I'd have to cut their ankles out beneath them.
DP: So we would throw you in at center or guard?
BF: Center probably would be better.

DP: Is is possible to throw for 3,000 yards in 10 consecutive seasons?
BF: If I can survive this year it is.
DP: I mean, that's pretty damn impressive. I don't know if you've considered it, but...
BF: I never really thought about it. Of course, I know about it now because anytime you get close to a milestone people bring it up. But I never really thought about it, and that's probably another reason I've been successful: I don't get caught up in what I've done, and if I stop and think about all that stuff, yes, I guess it's fairly impressive. But I'm waiting till it's all over to really sit back and take a look at what I've done.

DP: Have you looked at some of the items on e-Bay connected with you?
BF: No ... I don't know how to get on the Internet.
DP: You haven't logged on?
BF: No. My daughter would have to do that for me.
DP: There are 1,474 items related to you up for auction on e-Bay right now.
BF: Really.
DP: Yes. There's actually a gold ball for $9.99 signed by you.
BF: Huh.
DP: Just so you know.
BF: That's good to know.
DP: Yes, you're being sold.

DP: How's the golf game since we last spoke?
BF: Not bad. I'm hanging in there around a 2-handicap.
DP: Two?
BF: About a two.
DP: That's not bad.
BF: Some days less, some days more.
DP: Yes, but last time we talked, you said you were cheating.
BF: I don't cheat as much, but when the opportunity arises, I just always draw one out of my pocket here or there.

DP: What kind of coach would you be?
BF: A damn good one.
DP: Why? Because you know how to do it wrong and know how to do it right?
BF: Exactly. Yes, I know all the little tricks and trades of the game. And I can tell when a guy's trying to pull my leg, because I've done it for years. But I think I'd be a good coach because I think I'd be fair. I mean, I know what guys are thinking. It helps sometimes -- just because you play the game doesn't mean you'd be a great coach. But I really believe I could be a good coach, though I don't think I ever will be. When I leave the game I see myself playing golf, riding a tractor and getting as far away from it as possible.

DP: Does anybody refer to you by your middle name?
BF: Not really. Every once in a while my mom or my grandmother will say Lorenzo, but...
DP: Will they say, "Brett Lorenzo..."
BF: Usually Lorenzo.
DP: Would it bother you if an opponent said that? Imagine if John Randall said, "Hey, Lorenzo."
BF: What can I say to him? "Yes, sir."
DP: Would it make you laugh? Or would it bother you if somebody started saying that to you?
BF: No, I'd laugh ... I don't get too upset. Things don't bother me like they bother other guys, you know. I'd laugh at it.

DP: You list cooking as a hobby. Can you really cook?
BF: I can cook, like, two things: crawfish étouffée, and I can fry up po-boys. That's about it, so we'd better eat out.
DP: So you're Forrest Gump.
BF: Basically.

DP: Which Packer should we look out for this year?
BF: I would say Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, our defensive end from San Diego State. We drafted him last year. He's going to make an impact.
DP: How long did it take you to be able to pronounce his name?
BF: Right there was the first time. For the first year I called him by his number, or Hey You.

DP: Who's your favorite NASCAR driver?
BF: Dale Jarrett.
DP: I spoke to him recently. What a champ.
BF: Great guy.
DP: He's great. He has a sense of humor -- he gets it. He's one of my favorite people, not just favorite NASCAR drivers.
BF: I got a chance to know Dale in the last few years, and he's just a class act.
DP: Would you say that playing quarterback is similar to driving in NASCAR?
BF: That would be hard for me to compare, because I've never driven -- but I know one thing: You have to be focused on everything that's going on around you, more in NASCAR probably than football, because the least little mistake can be very costly -- and you have to do that for, what? Three, four hours?
DP: Yes.
BF: That's difficult. I have a lot of respect for those guys.

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